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Heart Activator Shalini Breault
"Heart activator" Shalini Breault leads Intermediate East students in some breathing and relaxation exercises.

April 27, 2023—Intermediate East has integrated a new family-based social-emotional learning (SEL) book club series. “Hope, Activism, and Being Your Best Self” is an initiative funded by Toms River Education Association, and connects students and families with mental health experts and award-winning authors to help strengthen their family unit, selves and community.

The series kicked off this week with several special guests. Intermediate East students and their families learned Emotional Freedom Technique (EFT) Tapping with Mandi Scanlon, Mrs. Delaware Valley International 2023. Scanlon’s program, “The Beauty of Healing Anxiety,” helps people refocus and de-stress.

Students then took a soothing “sound bath” using crystal singing bowls, an exercise orchestrated by Shalini Breault, a Reiki master who visited the school in February for literary-themed celebration.

soothing sound bath Intermediate East

Each family received “Grateful Hearts, Healthy Minds” t-shirts, gratitude journal with emotional trackers, book baggies filled with fun journaling tools, and selected a variety of top mental health books for middle schoolers.

“I know we are all busy and want the absolute best for our families," said Intermediate East teacher Angela Germano, “and I designed this club to forge new family friendships, support for each other and give the tools to open up and share with each other opportunities to have conversations, ask or just listen to what the experts have to say.

“Our intention is to foster hope, inspire activism, and give our students the resources and tools to live their best life.”

Families will read or peruse the books with the intent that they spark conversation or help with some challenges that may arise in middle school. Twice a month, the Family SEL Book Club will connect virtually with an esteemed mental health author to listen and share some tips, thoughts, hopes and insight.

The initiative is certainly off to a positive start. “I think this is a tremendously beneficial program," said parent and local business owner Lisa Wacha after thanking the school for allowing her to take part.

For more information about the Family Social Emotional Learning Book Club Series: Hope, Activism and Being Your Best Self, contact Angela Germano at 267-243-2141 or

Shalini Breault Miss Mandi Scanlon pose with student
Shalini Breault and Mandi Scanlon spend one-on-one time with Intermediate East students during the kickoff of the school's new book series.
Book Club at Intermediate East
Intermediate East soothing sound bath
Intermediate East yoga for book series