In Miami, teachers escape the fall hustle for an hour of yoga on the shore.
November 28, 2017
The Florida sun blazed down on the pier as they worked their way through tree and warrior poses and downward dogs. They could hear gentle waves breaking beneath them. Across a stretch of parkland, kids played in the sand. In a shady pavilion, teachers, alumni, and their families sat around picnic tables and shared favorite Friendsgiving potluck dishes.
A boozy happy hour event this was not. Rather, Teach For America alums and the team in Miami–Dade organized a recent Saturday social around the goal of helping teachers and other too-busy people sustain their physical and mental health during the last leg of the autumn hustle. They booked a pavilion in gorgeous Bill Baggs Cape Florida State Park, they invited people to bring their children, they turned on some music, and they tried to achieve some life balance.
“I felt very refreshed,” said Matt Campbell (Miami–Dade ’13), who spent 45 minutes at the gathering doing what he described as “hot yoga with the heat coming directly from the sun.” Campbell was drawn to the event, he said, “because any time I can center myself in that way, it’s good.” He added, “I have a high level of stress” at work, where he faces a new recruitment deadline every five weeks as admissions director for the coding boot camp Wyncode.
Members of the Miami–Dade chapter of The Collective, Teach For America’s association of alumni of color, organized kids’ games and crafts “so that people wouldn't feel stressed out about finding child care and families could be part of the event,” said Jesse Dong (Twin Cities ’09), a public defender.
Many of those who attended had moved to Miami from other regions where they did the corps. They came not only to re-charge but also to meet people with common interests.
“There wasn’t a lot of programming,” said Natalie Gonzalez (Jacksonville ’14), the operations director for the nonprofit Achieve Miami. “We were in a beautiful, serene park with time to unwind and relax without having to be at a certain session at a certain time.”
Throughout this fall, wellness has been a theme at many alumni and corps member events across the country. An organizer in Houston shared this reflection with other regional teams: “My biggest takeaway is that it takes more than focusing on developing our amazing corps members and alumni professionally as great educators. Our teachers truly can only be sustainably as good to others as they are to themselves.”
Photos by Azeez Bakare