Hands holding a group of people illustrating community

Building Compassionate Communities
in a New Normal

Ideas and strategies to create compassionate learning environments for students.

Dr. Kimberly Schonert-Reichl, Dr. Linda O’Neill and author Monique Gray Smith share their expertise on fostering wellness and compassion spaces for students, especially during times when the learning environment is ever-changing.

The three presenters detail how innovative concepts and practical approaches can assist educational staff in building compassionate learning environments in which both students and educators can thrive.

  • A New Kind of Fitness, Dr. Kimberly Schonert-Reichl (Social Emotional Learning)
  • Love is Medicine, Monique Gray Smith (Resiliency and Indigenous Lenses)
  • ACES-Informed Schools during COVID-19, Dr. Linda O’Neill (Trauma-informed Practice)



image of Dr. Kimberly Schonert-Reichl

Dr. Kimberly Schonert-Reichl

Dr. Kimberly A. Schonert-Reichl is an Applied Developmental Psychologist and a Professor in the Human Development, Learning, and Culture area in the Department of Educational and Counselling Psychology, and Special Education in the Faculty of Education at UBC. Before beginning her graduate work, she was a middle school and high school teacher.

Kim’s research focuses on understanding the processes that foster positive human qualities such as empathy, compassion, altruism, and resiliency in children/ youth. Her projects include studies examining the effectiveness of universal social and emotional learning (SEL) programs, including the Roots of Empathy, MindUP, and Kindness in the Classroom. She is the recipient of the 2015 Joseph E. Zins Distinguished Scholar Award for outstanding research on social and emotional learning (SEL), and the 2009 Confederation of University Faculty Associations BC's Paz Buttedahl Career Achievement Award in recognition of her sustained outstanding contributions to the community beyond the academy through research over the major portion of her career.

Kim has been involved with many scholarly committees and consultancies. She has served as an advisor to the British Columbia (BC) Ministry of Education on the development and implementation of the redesign of the Curriculum and Assessment Framework with focus on the promotion of students’ personal and social competencies. She is currently an Expert Advisor to the Organization for Economic Co-Operation and Development’s (OECD) Education 2030 initiative, a Board Member of the Collaborative for Academic, Social, and Emotional Learning (CASEL), an advisor to UNESCO’s Mahatma Gandhi Institute of Education for Peace and Sustainable Development (MGIEP) on SEL, and the Chair of the Scientific Advisory Board for the Goldie Hawn Foundation.

image of Dr. Linda O’Neill

Dr. Linda O’Neill

Dr. Linda O’Neill is a practicing counsellor, a certified trauma specialist and counsellor educator in the Department of Psychology at the University of Northern BC. She is also the Clinical Coordinator at the Community Counselling Centre in Prince George.

From years of trauma practice with children, youth and adults in the Prince George community and the far North, and through research on all aspects of trauma effects and interventions, Dr. O’Neill has compiled and designed trauma informed training with former research assistants and colleagues. Linda customizes the training for each professional group to ensure the greatest relevancy to practice. The training is constantly being refined to reflect the most recent research in the rapidly changing world of trauma support. This training has been customized and delivered to early childhood educators, teachers and support staff in school districts throughout BC, graduate counselling students, BEd students, counsellors, drug and alcohol programs, youth justice, Corrections professionals, Parole and Probation, Crown Council, John Howard Society volunteers, and practitioners in Mental Health and Addictions and Primary Health Care teams within the Northern Health Authority.

image of Monique-Gray-Smith

Monique Gray Smith

Monique Gray Smith is an award-winning, and best-selling author of books for children and youth, as well as adults. Her children’s books include: My Heart Fills With Happiness, You Hold Me Up, and When We Are Kind. Her YA/Adult books include: Tilly: A Story of Hope and Resilience and Tilly and the Crazy Eight. She is a proud mom of teenage twins, and is of Cree, Lakota and Scottish ancestry. Monique is well known for her storytelling, spirit of generosity and belief that love is medicine. She and her family are blessed to live on the traditional territory of the WSÁNEĆ territory, also known as Victoria.

image of Dean Shareski

Moderator Dean Shareski

Dean Shareski is an award-winning leader, teacher, speaker, coach and author. He has worked as a classroom teacher, district leader and built community throughout North America. He also has over 12 years of experience in online instructional design and teaching. Dean is a seasoned presenter who brings high energy, humour and isn’t afraid to challenge himself and others with provocative thinking and ideas. You can connect with Dean on his blog: http://ideasandthoughts.org or on Twitter @shareski

This presentation originated as a recorded webinar from September 9, 2020, part of the Ministry of Education’s Teaching Tenaciously: A Webinar Series to Support Educators as They Navigate Through Times of Uncertainty and Change.