Stephanie Wistreich ’24

NYU Steinhardt, Mindful Education Lab, New York, NY

This summer I was an intern for the Mindful Education Lab at NYU Steinhardt. The lab primarily looks at the psychological and neurological effects of mindfulness on student learning, teacher effectiveness and school and classroom climate. Educational interventions developed at the lab have been successful in boosting student achievement, test scores and learning. My work as an intern mostly entailed research regarding both mindfulness and various types of educational strategies at the K-12 educational level. I researched the benefits and the processes of both project-based learning and service learning while writing papers about these topics. I also had the opportunity to meet and do some work with the Innovative Schools Network (ISN). They have done groundbreaking work in teaming up schools across the country that take a more non-traditional approach, primarily along the lines of project-based learning and experiential learning. It was amazing to be able to connect with this organization and many of the directors of the schools they work with to hear, through their firsthand experience, about how the methods I spent most of my summer researching are being implemented.

These professionals were specifically interesting to hear from as they have been leading K-12 schools through two of the toughest years this country’s educational system has ever seen. Working and meeting with the ISN was an important step in a project that I was working on for the Mindful Education Lab. The project involves the lab’s partnership with Crellin Elementary, which is a small public school located in Oakland, Maryland. The lab is doing amazing work with this small elementary school, involving alternative methods of learning, a mentorship program and the implementation of mindfulness in the students’ everyday lives.

My work in the lab this summer solidified my interest in the fields of social and developmental psychology. I gained skills with writing at a more professional level and firsthand exposure to the research, editing and drafting that goes along with this higher level of writing. I feel incredibly lucky to have worked in a place that is doing groundbreaking research on child psychology and educational psychology. Much of the research I did included project-based learning and service learning, both found to be incredibly helpful in re-engaging students. After two years of remote/hybrid learning, figuring out how to offset these learning deficits that children have faced is of a high priority at the lab and is something I am very interested in. Therefore, I feel so grateful and fortunate to have had the opportunity to work in an environment with people who are not only passionate about what they do but with people who are making an immense positive impact on the K-12 educational system in the U.S. I have appreciated this opportunity immensely.