Our Story: Transforming Schools
As humans we long to nurture, educate and empower our young people, to help them realize their unique gifts and contribute to society. The Self-Leadership Collaborative endeavors to honor, integrate and build on the collective wisdom and creativity of in the field of social and emotional well-being.
Since 2011, Joanna Curry-Sartori, the Founder and Executive Director of the Self-Leadership Collaborative, has been implementing mindfulness and social and emotional well-being in school systems throughout the Greater Hartford, Connecticut. As she studied and practiced Internal Family Systems as a therapeutic model, she recognized its unique potential to address fundamental unmet social and emotional needs of children and adults in schools. Following the tragedy at Sandy Hook in 2012, Joanna joined colleagues at Central Connecticut State University (CCSU) to envision a fundamental paradigm-shift in how we nurture well-being in our school communities. From this collaborative effort at CCSU, a team emerged, including Dr. Ralph Cohen and Anna Tansi, whose focus was to envision the translation and integration of IFS into the school setting. In 2018- 2019, presentations and workshops were offered in schools throughout the tri-state area that introduced the core concepts and practices of Self-Leadership to thousands of educators. Since the fall of 2019, Joanna has pioneered the first whole-school implementation of IFS in three pilot schools in Connecticut- an elementary, middle and high school. This effort has been endorsed and generously supported by the Foundation for Self-Leadership (see link to their website below).
During this time, other teams around the world have simultaneously been appreciating the immense potential of IFS in schools and discovering creative ways to introduce the model into their communities. This has inspired the development of a collaborative approach to share best practices, innovate, and inspire each other with our discoveries (see Global Collaborators and Associates under “Our Team”).
As this Self-Leadership Collaborative model is researched and refined, it will be made available to schools worldwide. Our hope and intention is that educators everywhere will benefit from the core principles and practices of Self-Leadership, and use them to nurture their own experience of well-being, uplift our children's self-confidence, and create learning communities characterized by calm, compassion and courage. Our schools can lead the world in discovering our greatest potential to collaborate together to lead from Self.
TO LEARN MORE ABOUT THE FOUNDATION FOR SELF LEADERSHIP who is generously funding the research and implementation of our work in schools you can visit their website. The Foundation for Self Leadership is a public charity dedicated to advancing emotional and relational healing and well-being through IFS.
“It’s impact has been immediate because it's not an initiative but rather a shift in culture...with a focus on relationships, with a core of wellness and it's spreading.”
"One of the common themes was that ultimately (this sort of) leadership is about a way of being, being our best Selves so that in our daily practice we are better in relationships. We have to learn to differentiate our responsibilities and task orientated mind from this way of being - this needs to come first."-A Second Superintendent
"I can't wait for this model to take the world by storm.
- School Social Worker
“Teachers and administrators realize they first must do their own work, to be aware enough to notice your own triggers first ... Call me crazy: I think
we can do something differently and thanks to this approach we are
-A Third Superintendent
“Practicing this model has transformed me… for the first time in my career, instead of being anxious to go back to school in the fall, I could truly look forward to it.
I felt ready and relaxed.”
-Elementary, Special Ed
"Using this model has changed my entire life. I've seen a difference with my students. The last few months there has been a shift. The communications between staff ...people are taking more risks as opposed to keeping things in...there is more kindness and awareness with how we talk to each other... My hope is that we can shift the mindset of our schools through emotional empowerment. We need to cultivate a community of understanding; a place where compassion, curiosity, and connections lead our daily lives"