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Queens assistant principal helps students shine in neuroscience classes through meditation

Scott Silverman, assistant principal at John Adams High School in Ozone Park, used his doctorate in sports psychology to create a high-tech curriculum giving students a chance to succeed in neuroscience classes.

A Queens educator wants his high school to be the neuroscience capital of the world — by focusing on meditation, mindfulness and biofeedback.

Scott Silverman, assistant principal at John Adams High School in Ozone Park, has created a high-tech curriculum at the once-struggling school. And his efforts appear to be paying off.

Since Silverman began his efforts six years ago, the school’s graduation rate has climbed to 66% from 53%. Attendance is up. Tardiness and behavioral problems are down.

Silverman, who has a doctorate in sports psychology, has already rolled out eight classes in meditation and mindfulness. Nearly 300 students have enrolled.

And, starting in the fall, all ninth-graders will take a six-week unit on meditation as part of their mandatory health classes.

Silverman has also created a meditation center that opened at John Adams in 2016 and will kick off new classes in biofeedback, filmmaking and virtual reality in the fall.

For giving his school a 21st century makeover, the big-thinking assistant principal is nominated for a Hometown Heroes in Education award.

Silverman, 54, said he has big dreams for John Adams.

“My overall vision was to become a model school for creating resilient students and staff by utilizing evidence-based practices that support the whole person and not just the academic person,” Silverman said.

“I want John Adams to be the neuroscience capital of the world,” he added.

Silverman aims to get there with a complicated mix of tech-enabled lessons aimed at increasing students’ and staffers’ mindfulness, a state he describes as a sort of ongoing meditation that reduces stress and creates awareness.

Silverman, sits in one of the meditating pods at John Adams High School, in Queens.

(David Wexler/For New York Daily News)

Classes will include activities such as the use of biofeedback machines, which measure skin temperature and heart rate, so that students may employ to them train themselves to lower their stress levels.

Silverman’s unorthodox approach to education is informed by his background in sports psychology and years spent as a personal trainer and consultant for athletes who sought to improve the mental aspect of their game.

He believes that today’s teens suffer from greater levels of stress and anxiety — partially due to social media — and that addressing those issues will transform his students into more-complete adults.

“Not only do behaviors improve but they understand why and they become more aware of their behavior,” Silverman said.


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