Dr. Alexis Harris is the Compassionate Schools Project Director for the Contemplative Sciences Center at the University of Virginia and a Research Assistant Professor for the School of Education and Human Development.
She is interested in the intersections of developmental science, education science, and prevention science. Her work employs qualitative and quantitative methods to develop a better understanding of how the interactions between developing youth and their school and community contexts influence social emotional development and wellbeing. She has been involved in the implementation and evaluation of multiple intervention strategies to promote social emotional competence and wellbeing and to prevent the negative consequences of stress, including school-based universal social-emotional learning interventions, contemplative/mindfulness-based approaches, and professional development for educators. Alexis received her Ph.D. in 2014 from the Pennsylvania State University, where she developed a contemplative wellness-promotion intervention for educators, the CALM program. She is currently located in Louisville, KY, directing implementation of the Compassionate Schools Project.
Dr. Patricia (Tish) Jennings is a Professor of Education at the School of Education and Human Development at the University of Virginia and an internationally recognized leader in SEL and mindfulness education. She has authored several books, including Teacher Burnout Turnaround and The Trauma-Sensitive Classroom. She studies the social and emotional dynamics of educational settings and applies this understanding to develop and test interventions designed to enhance teachers’ capacity to cultivate supportive relationships with their students and provide a supportive and engaging social and emotional context for academic learning. She also develops and tests curricula and interventions for pre-K and elementary level children with a focus on social and emotional learning. She conducts basic research to better understand these relationships and evaluative, efficacy, effectiveness, and dissemination research to determine whether intervention efforts are effective and sustainable in educational settings. She is particularly focused on applying recent findings on mindfulness-based approaches to reducing teacher and student stress and improving teaching and learning environments. She applies this research to improve pre-service teacher education at the pre-K and elementary levels.