Harwood Union High School
Tara Cariano, a ninth guidance counselor at Harwood Union High School, is doing her best to promote self-care and mindfulness practices among the students, staff and the community at large this year. “I began practicing mindfulness some years ago and discovered how much better grounded I am as the result,” she said. Her passion didn’t stop there and in ensuing years, she has immersed herself in additional mindfulness oriented courses. “Last summer I participated in a course at UC Berkeley, at the Greater Good Science Center, where I learned more about how to live a meaningful life and spread mindfulness practices,” she said. True to form, as we looked around her office, we spotted a stuffed Yoda on her rocking chair, (he is the epitome of mindfulness), a dish of all things special and a variety of photos and messages supporting mindfulness practices.
This past fall, Harwood Union and the surrounding communities experienced the tragic loss of several students. Several students, parents and educators continue to cope with their pain and grief. “Because of the tragedy enveloping the community, I believe our colleagues need double the amount of self-care,” Cariano said. “We are offering multiple self-care activities to staff including sound healing, tea drinking, yoga and Reiki.
“As a part of the crisis team, I ask every student who comes into my office if they want to breathe. I see my role as integral to helping others slow down,” she said. Cariano practices using all five senses with the students and often engages them in walking. She also shares her expertise with her colleagues, providing instruction on how advisors can make use of mindfulness practices with students and how teachers can bring yoga into the classroom.
Originally from the Midwest, Cariano found herself in Vermont first as an AmeriCorps worker stationed at the Winooski Teen Center. From that experience, she became much more interested in working with young people ultimately pursuing her master’s degree in counseling from the University of Vermont. She worked in Northfield as a guidance counselor and is in her second year at Harwood Union. “I am passionate about building good relationships with students and am thrilled to be working specifically with ninth graders,” she said.
When she’s not in her office, you can find Cariano outside on the playing field serving as one of the schools’ soccer coaches. She is also a member of the Vermont Women’s Soccer League.