Valerie York-Zimmerman has been a teacher and tireless advocate for Mindfulness-Based Stress Reduction and Mindfulness-Based Cognitive Therapy in South Florida since 1998 and 2002, respectively. Valerie received both her training and certification from the Center for Mindfulness at the University of Massachusetts where that work was pioneered by Dr. Jon Kabat-Zinn in 1979. She is one of only two CFM Certified MBSR Teachers in the state of Florida at this time. Ms. York-Zimmerman is also affiliated with the prestigious Professional Training Institute in the Center for Mindfulness at the University of California San Diego
After years of ongoing study and teaching her IJ-MBSR classes to adults, Valerie envisioned expanding these life-affirming principles to children. Convinced the most effective way to reach children was by training their teachers, Valerie embarked on this daunting task with indefatigable energy and focus:
- She created, developed, and taught the Mindful Teachers Training Program, also authored Mindful Teachers Training Program Manual, a useful reference and guide for educators.
- In 2011 Ms. York-Zimmerman and her husband Leonard A. Zimmerman, M.D., founded Mindful Kids Miami (MKM), a non-profit organization that brings the skills of mindfulness to children, grades Pre-K through 12, throughout Miami-Dade. From 2011 – 2015, she led the work of that organization in a number of capacities — as its Executive Director, President of the Board, Senior Teacher and Trainer.
- In 2015 Valerie obtained approval of a path-finding pilot project between Mindful Kids Miami and Miami-Dade County Public Schools, providing mindfulness training to hundreds of teachers and school counselors, who implemented the principles in their classrooms and schools. In just one year, results were remarkable: enhanced academic and social-emotional learning and improved student behavior. The program has tremendous potential for improving both school success and personal wellness of children for generations to come.
Perhaps one of the most impressive measures of the impact of Valerie’s mindfulness work in the South Florida community is the fact that she was nominated May of 2016 as one of three finalists for the Miami Herald South Florida Visionary Awards in Education