Anique Pegeron

MA in Educational Studies: Teaching and Learning

Anique  Pegeron, School of Education

Student status: Alum, graduated 2016

Geographic region of origin: Ann Arbor, Michigan

Education prior to Ed Studies MA: Northwestern University: Major in Human Development and Psychological Services, Minor in French Language

Prior to joining the program: 

I graduated from college with a strong desire to help others in my career, but I felt lost as to how. My interests lay somewhere between psychology and education, and I had a deep curiosity about how people lived around the world. My journey began with WorldTeach, an education-based international development program. After an initial training period, I set out for a small town in the Andes mountains of Ecuador, where I taught English classes, lived with a local family, and joined community development efforts. While there, I started learning mindfulness—a life-changing practice that allowed me to engage with daily experiences in a more present, centered, and compassionate way.

At the end of my time in Ecuador, still unsure of my purpose but inspired by an amazing year of cross-cultural teaching and learning, I continued to seek out roles in international education and development. This journey took me from Latin America to Europe, India, North Africa, China, southeast Asia, New Zealand and Australia. I tried out a variety of professional roles, but nothing felt like my true calling. I was in Australia – on the opposite end of the Earth (literally) – when I finally realized what I wanted to do with my life. The biggest asset during this period of constant change had been mindfulness; practicing it regularly had enhanced my focus, resilience, and emotional well-being, providing me with a set of tools to manage the highs and lows of life.

I thought: If we could teach these simple yet powerful life skills to children and youth, imagine the positive impact it could have on their lives. Luckily, I was not alone; mindfulness in education was a nascent but fast-growing field. I moved back home to Ann Arbor and joined the movement. I received in-depth training from Mindful Schools (and a few other organizations), made lasting connections with mentors, and got my feet wet volunteering in classrooms.

As I gained experience, I transitioned to paid work teaching mindfulness in the Ann Arbor community. Two years ago I launched Mindfulness, Movement, and Nature Camp, a mindfulness-based day camp with a dynamic curriculum including games, yoga, crafts, and nature activities. Soon after I founded my own small business–Mindful World, LLC–and continue to teach mindfulness and create mindful education programs for children, youth, families, and schools. 

Why the Teaching & Learning program? 

As I created new programs and curricula, I wanted guidance from the experts in the field of education, which is where the Teaching and Learning program came in. I wanted to be up-to-date on the latest research on effective teaching and learning. I wanted to know how to best teach mindfulness skills to different populations so that it would have a lasting impact on their lives.

Since my interests were unconventional and cross-disciplinary, I wanted a program that would allow me to draw from different fields to design an individualized curriculum in line with my career goals. I wanted a graduate degree from a respected institution that would give me credibility as I continued to teach and develop programs. 

Finally, I wanted to make connections with other educators, professors, innovators, and families who were part of the vast U of M community. The Teaching and Learning program was the only program that fulfilled all of these goals. It also provided experiences that allowed me to grow in ways I wasn’t expecting—both personally and professionally.

Individualized course of study: 

Courses I chose included:

With the help of my advisor, I chose courses that fit my specific professional interests, both within the field of education and beyond it. I loved all of my classes; they provided both depth and breadth of knowledge in the areas I was seeking.

My cognate classes in the social work and music schools were among my favorites. SW 715, a.k.a. “the adventure class,” is a must for anyone interested in outdoor education, or incorporating adventure-based activities into their work.

I would also highly recommend the contemplative studies program. Housed in the jazz department of the School of Music, but having little to do with jazz or music, these courses explore themes and practices in meditation, spirituality, and consciousness. What I gained from taking them went beyond traditional academics, expanding my sense of how to engage with the world around me in a deeper way. 

Highlights of the Michigan experience:

I was blown away by every single one of my professors. They each put as much passion into their teaching as their research (if not more), and were as kind and approachable as they were driven and intelligent. I also couldn’t have asked for a better advisor; she was so sweet, supportive, and helpful. And again, the range and depth of knowledge I gained from my courses was invaluable.

Diversity, equity and inclusion:

The U-M School of Education provides a nurturing environment in which individuals with a variety of perspectives, backgrounds, creeds, cultures, genders, orientations and ethnicities collaborate to learn, teach, and grow together. During my time there, I found my voice as a champion of mindfulness in education, which (in my view) holds promise for promoting equity and inclusion in our educational system.

Empowering students with the ability to improve focus, manage emotions, calm their nervous systems, and increase empathy in the face of personal, psychological, and socioeconomic barriers increases their capacity to learn and to participate positively in their school communities. It sets a supportive foundation into any educational culture, equipping all learners to thrive emotionally, mentally, and academically. If adopted on a large scale, teaching mindfulness in schools could aid in closing the persisting achievement gap in education. 

Life after U-M:

I continue to teach mindfulness and run mindful education programs and workshops for children, youth, families, schools, and organizations. Thanks to U-M and the Teaching and Learning program, I do this work with more expertise, credibility, and connections than before.

I am constantly drawing from the knowledge and skills I developed as part of the program, such as how to get my students motivated, how to create curricula for meaningful learning, and how to use hands-on experiential activities to promote personal growth. With the help of the entrepreneurship clinic at the law school—an opportunity for free legal counsel open to U-M students—I’m in the process of gaining LLC accreditation and legal protection for my business. Being a part of the U-M community has opened me up to a web of people, knowledge, and resources that help me to continue growing in a career that I love.

Anique invites prospective students to contact her with any questions about the Teaching and Learning program or mindfulness in education. For more information on her summer camps, classroom programs, family/individual sessions, and other educational mindfulness opportunities, visit www.mindful-world.com or email anique.pegeron@gmail.com.

Pegeron’s program of study:
Teaching and Learning

 

Affiliations