This year, NJSBA’s Virtual Workshop keynote speaker is no stranger to the education world and is an expert in cultivating productive and healthy school climates and cultures.
Alisha De Lorenzo, a former educator for nearly 20 years and a licensed professional counselor, will speak live on educational leadership, forging relationships and connections and healing trauma, at 9 a.m. on Wednesday, Oct. 26.
The North Haledon, Passaic County native also has served as an advisor and resource to numerous school districts, the NJSBA, the New Jersey Department of Education and other education-related organizations. De Lorenzo has presented at Workshop conferences in the past and is back by popular demand.
Rooted in a passion for equity, mental health, education and contemplative practices, De Lorenzo knows that school leaders must make a conscious decision to add mindfulness practices and ensure that mental health is a priority. Such actions can sharply reduce student disciplinarian issues, open up learning opportunities for all and produce a more positive learning environment, where both educators and children can thrive.
“We know that the well-being of adults in schools has a direct impact on student outcomes,” said De Lorenzo, adding that if teachers are highly-stressed and have low coping skills, their students will be negatively impacted. “We can’t just talk the talk and say it’s important for self-care. We have to prioritize that and make sure that we make intentional space for that to happen.”
The Middletown resident is an experienced facilitator and speaker, who has provided professional development regarding social-emotional learning, mindfulness, leadership, trauma, equity and mental health at the local, national and international levels. She now serves on a state community advisory board to address trauma in all forms on the education community.
“If there’s anything that would be the key to looking at this pandemic and how we move forward from here it would be understanding the impact that trauma has on the brain, learning, relationships, and then creating interventions that address building relationships and connections and wrapping supports around young people and their families so they can be ready to learn,” De Lorenzo said.
“The more that we experience challenges and uncertainties, whether that comes on us and causes damage and harm and displaces people, it’s another trauma that’s added to the list that folks are collectively experiencing this year,” she added, while noting the destructive aftermath of Hurricane Ida. “We just have to be mindful that it’s impacting how people work and how they learn.”
De Lorenzo served as the first social-emotional learning coordinator in the Asbury Park school district and the state. De Lorenzo was charged with designing and implementing an integrative education model by taking trauma into account and integrating practical mindfulness techniques. After putting her initiatives into place, Asbury Park experienced a substantial decline in disciplinarian issues. De Lorenzo shared her experience with other districts in 2016, when she first connected with the NJSBA and county school boards associations throughout the Garden State.
As the founder and owner of Living YES, LLC in Red Bank, N.J. and children’s yoga instructor, De Lorenzo employs a multi-dimensional process to infuse wellness into classrooms through her work with teachers and students. Her goal is to create educational equity and to address the emotional literacy and trauma in K-12 communities.
“We know that young people and adults are being impacted by this trauma of a pandemic,” she said. “We know the answer, the best response, the most reparative and protective factor against trauma and to interfere with trauma, is relationships with caring and competent adults. Adults who can regulate themselves, who can pause without being reactionary…not just look to punish young people when it looks like they are misbehaving.”
De Lorenzo is the former interim deputy director for Garden State Equality, the state’s largest LGBTQ+ advocacy organization with more than 150,000 members. She received her masters in Psychological Counseling from Monmouth University, N.J.
She has been recognized for her dedication to the mental health field and for her community organizing as a recipient of the following: the state Department of Education’s New Jersey Governor’s Educational Service Professional of the Year Award; the United States Army Award of Excellence; Monmouth University Outstanding Alumni Award; and the Monmouth County, N.J. Latino American Society Outstanding Community Activism Award. According to De Lorenzo, however, the role of which she is most proud is being a mother to her two young sons.
About Virtual Workshop 2021 Virtual Workshop 2021, co-sponsored by the New Jersey School Boards Association, the New Jersey Association of School Administrators and the New Jersey Association of School Business Officials, will offer multiple tracks of live training sessions over three full days. It will also feature compelling keynote speakers, an interactive exhibit floor, and exciting special events.
Registration To make training accessible to more district members, NJSBA is offering a special group rate of $900 for up to 25 team members. The individual member rate is $450 per person. School business administrators must handle registration for their districts. Review the registration instructions before starting.
To learn more, visit workshop.njsba.org.