Harmony in School

Ms. Howard’s home recording studio for Controlling stress class and YouTube videos

Everyday, people go through stressful moments and having someone to talk to or someone there to help you get through these moments can be very important for the body and for the brain. During 2020 we’ve been going through the pandemic, online school, unemployment, work and so much more, so there was not a lot of time to stop and calm down and restore your peace.

Ms. Marykay Howard takes time everyday to restore peace in the mind for her and others with her program Harmony in Schools. This program helps students and teachers understand the importance of controlling stress. In Ms.Howards program you would usually see yoga exercises and therapy for the body and mind. Ms.Howard is currently doing virtual training and virtual self care and stress relief for her program. Ms. Howard also has a YouTube channel with physical routines and important quotes to help control stress.

After the Economic Downturn in 2008, Ms. Howard created the Controlling Stress class in 2010. Ms. Howard says, “Students did a stress scale test and numbers increased.” She saw that many students were struggling and extremely stressed, and she wanted to do something about it, so she created the Harmony in Schools program. Ms. Howard also created the program because she wanted, “Other teachers to see what she was doing and wanted to help students also.”

During our interview she was asked, “So far what is the estimated number of students your program Harmony in school has helped?” Ms. Howard replied, “I would say controlling stress has helped thousands of students.”

After some research, it was found in a behavior health website, a study conducted during the pandemic of about 1,500 teenagers, 7 out of 10 kids reported that they were struggling with their mental health in some way. Over 50% of the teens said they struggled with anxiety, 43% dealt with depression, and 45% had felt more stress than usual.

It was also found that one of the most telling findings from the study was that 61% of teens said the pandemic had increased their feelings of loneliness. That’s a direct result of being isolated and separated from friends and classmates. When a teen is dealing with depression or anxiety, having a strong support system is crucial. Right now, those support systems have dwindled, and teens are struggling on their own.

Ms. Hannah Koch, Lafayette’s mental health specialist, says she has seen, “many students… stressed due to lack of interaction with peers/missing their friends and falling behind in classes.” Some ways that she suggests help for stressed teens is to, “Reach out to your friends, family, and supporters to let them know what is going on.” For help with stress around classes she suggests “Reaching out to teachers and staff that students feel comfortable with to let them know what is going on so they can work with you.”

With Ms. Howard’s program, many students have had wonderful results from her help. One of her students is quoted saying, “Thank you for teaching me to be more grateful, mindful, respectful, and helping me find inner peace. Ever since I learned to meditate in your class, I have made it a part of my routine and it has changed my life.”

Another student said, “Mrs. Howard’s Controlling Stress class helped me find a sense of self. Because of the skills I learned in this class, I’m now able to focus on what really matters.” We thank Ms. Howard for her wonderful heart and compassion to help others.