Tierney Thompson is a special education teacher of 20 years working in the Bonner Springs school district. She started her teaching at the elementary level and for the past 5 years has been at the high school. She received her undergraduate degree from New Mexico State University in 1997 in elementary education and special education (with a focus on behavior disorders, intellectual disabilities and physical impairments). In May of 2005 she received her master’s degree from the University of Kansas with an emphasis on Autism. Throughout her years in education she has worked with students who have been diagnosed with Autism Spectrum Disorder, Down syndrome, behavior disorders, sensory disorders, cerebral palsy, and a variety of rare disorders causing language limitations as well as physical limitations.
Throughout her years of teaching in elementary school, she noticed how her students rarely participated in PE class, didn’t like sweating or moving quickly and had very few activities they were willing to participate in that were good for their bodies. So she introduced yoga to her students. In 2011, her class studied and practiced yoga daily and created a yoga dvd where the students modeled poses and created their own meditation music. She had such a positive response from her students and families, reporting behaviors had decreased, the students had more energy and were sleeping better at night, she decided to become certified in children’s yoga. She received certification through Yoga for Young Warriors in Denver, CO in September 2012 and in February 2013, attended a training class with the Yoga Patch in Kansas City, MO. With her training she created a class at the Bonner YMCA called Zen Friends: Yoga for ALL kids. She encouraged both general education peers and students from her life skills class to take the class. With this mixture of students, modeling behaviors as well as the yoga poses, an environment was created where ALL kids felt safe and encouraged. Four years later, Tierney has introduced yoga and meditation to her Life Skills class at the high school where they begin their day with sun salutations and guided meditation. Her students report that yoga practice allows them to feel connected within themselves and others in the class as well as manage the overwhelming feelings they often struggle with throughout their days. Yoga has become part of their school day and is something they look forward to daily.
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