Jennifer Scamorza has been providing direct yoga services to select students at the Harbor School on a weekly basis over the past 3 months. She has provided consultation to me (Karin DeMarco-Occupational Therapist) as well as my co- worker (Sarah McNulty-Speech Therapist) regarding additional means to integrate yoga practices into the classroom setting. She has also provided consultation to the physical education teacher, modeling additional yoga techniques that can be utilized through this venue. This has truly been a collaborative effort in which techniques, resources, and materials have been shared between us. Jennifer is a true collaborator and a superb consultant as she is always respectful of the current “trends” of the school. Additionally, she consistently asks for and is open to feedback regarding her practice and is extremely mindful of the rules and regulations under which the school operates. She provides her service in a non- judgmental, gentle manner and is extremely flexible in shifting the classrooms and students she is working with in order to provide her services in the most productive manner possible.
Over this short period of time, there have been multiple positive outcomes emerging in the school environment that I have observed as a direct result of Jennifer’s services:
1. Select classroom teachers have become more open and receptive to utilizing simple yoga practices as part of their daily routine.
2. Educational staff have had increased exposure to seeing the benefits of using a more accepting, child centered approach in the classroom.
3. Classroom teachers have observed the calming effects that yoga practices can have on the classroom environment and have commented about this to me directly.
4. Integrating school wide monthly yoga goals are starting to develop the positive effect of having students strive toward a common purpose, increasing their sense of a family community at school.
5. Select students have become more introspective regarding their own emotional state and able to verbalize and/or initiate self calming strategies.
6. Select students and educational staff have retained frequently taught yoga practices that they now carry out on their own time.
7. Select students have shown increased sense of mastery and self esteem when they are able to teach a yoga pose and/or yoga practice to a peer or the general classroom.
8. Select classroom staff have witnessed additional proof of the positive influence yoga themed music and movement activities can have on gaining skill and regulating behavior in their students when carried out in the classroom setting.
It has been a pleasure to collaborate with Jennifer and it has thus far been a highly positive experience through which many benefits have been gained.
Karin DeMarco- OT Sarah McNulty-ST
I have been an instructional assistant at Long Branch Middle School for the past six years. Ms. Jen is amazing with the students. Her personality is so calming and it is apparent she truly loves the children. For the past two years I have been privileged enough to witness her working with many different levels of middle school children. I bring in special needs students and she takes extra time to work with them on their level of understanding. I would think anyone would benefit from a session with Ms. Jen. I know we appreciate her very much.
Yoga has made a world of difference for our students with autism. It is a time of relaxation, reflection, and is a period of time where the student can "just be." Students have said that they feel more grounded or in their bodies when completing a yoga class. Teachers have noticed students more focused and on task with learning that happens after yoga. Conversely, a reduction of negative behaviors such as flapping and vocal outbursts have significantly reduced. With a diagnosis of autism comes an inherent difficulty with change. Through patience, encouragement, and flexibility (both figurative and literal) Ms. Jen has helped our students, not only become comfortable, but thrive in a setting that is continually flowing and changing. Students look forward to a class in which they are comfortable to explore and even teach their peers. Ms. Jen has taught our students that flexibility is not just something to practice, but a way to approach challenges in life.
Katherine Gooch and Jonathan Trzeszkowski
Jennifer Scamorza has volunteered her time for the past two years, two days a week to teach yoga to the students of Long Branch Middle School. Her program allows students to be still in a world consumed with chaos. The students were able to learn deep breathing practices, which helped them stay focused, relieve stress and unclutter the mind.
Jennifer's commitment to the children of Long Branch is extraordinary. She has a passion for what she does and expresses how much she cares about the well-being of all children through her teachings. I applaud her desire to give back to our community. Jennifer has been an asset to our health and physical education program.
Laurie A. Cancalosi, EdD.