About Us

There is a growing need to support children of color,
not only academically but emotionally and socially.

According to the article, “Promoting student behavior and learning through multi-tiered systems of support,” written by Barbara Bole Williams, Ph.D, a multi-tiered system of support (MTSS) is critical for student learning. MTSS is an evidence-based framework that effectively integrates multiple systems and services. As a result, MTSS simultaneously addresses student academic achievement, behavior, and social-emotional well-being. According to the recent Achievement Gap Recommendations report, the Montclair Public School District have distinct unacceptable paths of learning. For this reason, a crescendo of inequality is present at the most critical moment of a young person’s life: high school graduation.

 

 

The South Orange-Maplewood School District is among one of the New Jersey school districts with the highest racial disparities in tracking and student discipline.

Montclair Public School District and South Orange-Maplewood School District are just two of the local districts that MAAC may and/or could serve. It is important to note that, unfortunately, these districts are not alone in regards to the Achievement Gap. Other local and national data mirrors similar trends and this simply is inexcusable and unacceptable.

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MAAC Programming Updates

There's been a lot of recent changes to MAAC programming due to the COVID-19 pandemic, and we wanted to make sure we kept everyone up to date. Click the buttons below to learn more about our upcoming programs, as well as our restart and recovery plan.

Our Staff

meet the team


Andrea Smith-Morgan

Founder and CEO of Mindful Awareness Academy for Children (MAAC), Andrea Smith-Morgan has an M.A. in curriculum and instruction from Columbia University and a B.A. from West Virginia University.  Her certifications include English, Special Educations, LDTC and K-8.  She has been a teacher in Montclair Public Schools for over 20 years and has fostered lasting relationships with teachers, students and educators.

DR. ELEANOR GIL-KASHIWABARA

Dr. Eleanor Gil-Kashiwabara earned her doctorate degree in clinical psychology from Pacific University and M.A. in Developmental Psychology from Columbia University. She completed her predoctoral internship and residency training at Oregon Health & Science University. She is licensed as a psychologist by the Oregon Board of Psychologists. Her training and professional experience focuses on children and families experiencing a variety of issues including, but not limited to trauma (including intergenerational trauma and historical loss), early-childhood attachment disruptions and maltreatment, neurodevelopmental disorders and mood disorders.

​As a bilingual Latina psychologist of Puerto Rican and Cuban descent, Eleanor has a passion and commitment to providing culturally responsive services to all clients, though much of her work has emphasized addressing service inequities and culturally-specific service provision in Latinx and American Indian/Alaska Native (AI/AN) communities. Over the last 14 years, she served as Associate Professor at Portland State University School of Social Work, where she was a Principal Investigator on numerous children’s mental health grants using a Community-Based Participatory Research (CBPR) model with tribal and Latinx communities (both rural and urban). Currently, she is the Director of Culturally Responsive Care at Mindsights in Portland, Oregon where she integrates attention to the cultural context for all of the children receiving services in this mental health setting. In addition, she is a certified yoga instructor and is especially interested in the positive benefits of yoga on mental health functioning. Dr. Eleanor Gil-Kashiwabara is honored to serve as Board President of Mindful Awareness Academy for Children.

TAMARA C. WILLIAMS

Tamara C. Williams is a jazz vocalist and composer with extensive experience developing music programs with non-profit organizations, colleges, and universities. Prior to arts administration, Mrs. Williams volunteered with domestic violence and sexual assault organizations in the greater St. Louis area. Using spoken word poetry, she became a spokesperson and advocate for the prevention of violence against women, HIV/AIDS prevention, and recovery for substance abusers. In 2012, Mrs. Williams was recognized for her work with arts programs by receiving an award from the National Coalition of 100 Black Women as a Trailblazer in Arts and Culture. She received her A.A. in English from Southwestern Illinois College; her B.A. in Music with an emphasis in Classical and Jazz Voice from Southern Illinois University-Edwardsville; and her M.M. in Jazz Studies from Michigan State University. Mrs. Williams founded Music Beyond Measure in January 2013 where she continues to promote the arts as an aid in trauma recovery for survivors of domestic violence, sexual assault, child abuse, and individuals suffering from PTSD.

JIGISHA VYAS

Jigisha Vyas is a university professor, instructional coach, a certified mindful educator, and yoga instructor. She has taught both special and general education working primarily with students in grades K-5. In her free time, she teaches yoga and meditation to all age groups! She finds passion in the work of building student voice and student agency, while actively leading and promoting equity and anti-bias teaching in education. She also enjoys hiking, traveling, playing on a volleyball league, and spending time with friends and family. Jigisha is based in New Jersey (but escapes to the sunshine whenever she can!)

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Weekly Mindfulness Sessions • College Seminars • Guest Speakers
Wellness Programs • Community Exploration • Academic Support

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