Meditation Impacts at Visitacion Valley Middle School
Visitacion Valley Middle School (VVMS) first introduced Quiet Time (QT), a stress-reduction program that includes Transcendental Meditation (TM)* as an optional activity, in the spring of 2007. The program consists of two periods, 15 minutes each in the morning and afternoon, when students may choose to sit quietly or meditate. Throughout the year, the San Francisco-based Center for Wellness and Achievement in Education has provided students with anywhere from one to five hours of general QT training, and, for those who opt for it, TM instruction. Teachers receive training in how to oversee and facilitate QT in class ( PDF 178KB), and they can also choose to receive TM training for themselves.
Since the schoolwide implementation of Quiet Time in 2008, suspensions have been cut in half, from 13 suspensions per 100 students in 2006-07 to six suspensions per 100 students in 2010-11. Truancy rates have dropped by 61 percent. In 2010-11, only 7 percent of students had unexcused absences or were tardy for three or more days, compared with 18 percent in 2006-07. According to data from the San Francisco Unified School District, VVMS currently boasts among the highest number of middle schools students who say they like their school and would recommend it to others.
In addition to the economic hardship experienced by most students at VVMS, 88 percent of whom receive free or reduced-price lunch, stress is compounded by the high incidence of violent crime in the surrounding neighborhood. In 2011 in the Ingleside neighborhood, there were 37 shooting victims, a 28 percent increase from 2010. The area also experienced 10 homicides, a 25 percent increase from 2010, which constituted the second-highest number of homicide and shooting victims in San Francisco.