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Alan Brown '98 Skeptics
Alan Brown '98 Skeptics
Alan Brown '98 Skeptics
Founder of Learning to Thrive Alan Brown ’98 Immerses Himself within the Blair Community & Skeptics

Nearly two years have passed since the coronavirus turned the world upside down and brought unforeseen chaos into countless individuals’ lives. Even as the pandemic affected everyone differently, one thing became clear. Whatever came next would be considered a “new normal,” and working together to get the world spinning right-side up again would become the priority. To help offer his tips and tricks on getting back up to speed while emphasizing one’s health and well-being, founder of Learning to Thrive, alum Alan Brown ’98, spoke not only at his third Society of Skeptics on Tuesday, January 31, but also joined students and faculty inside classrooms and at extracurricular club meetings. 

Offering his experience working through change and “overwhelming” scenarios,  Mr. Brown worked with students in the Gay and Straight Alliance club, Be Well group, Belonging and Equity Committee, and Healthy Relationships Club. He also served as guest speaker for the Blair LEADS program, the School’s signature leadership education initiative focused on helping students better understand what they are passionate about and how they can translate that passion into a call to action that benefits others in their communities. 

With over 15 years of professional experience working as a teacher and school administrator with both public and private schools, Mr. Brown has developed deep experience building cultures of belonging and well-being for adolescents. He hopes to share his methods as a part of the school’s LEADS program.

“I am excited to contribute to the great work that is already happening at Blair. I appreciate how the LEADS program already thinks about the question, ‘What are the evidence based practices that help us to thrive? To live well? Intentionally healthy lives?’

“The conversation on what is ‘healthy’ for high schoolers has changed over the past 25 years and we’re, societally, being more intentional about the little things we can do each day to invest in our health and well-being.” With the 10th grade, Mr. Brown shared the PERMA model, a multidimensional approach to psychological well-being that “gives us a way to be intentional about nourishing ourselves and having the habits that help us to be our best, to be in service of others, and to be intentional about what it means to live a meaningful and connected life.”  

In addition to his experiences working with students on how to live healthier lives, Mr. Brown coaches educators and leaders on mindfulness and the science of well-being and resilience. 

During his Skeptics talk, Mr. Brown spent time with the entire school discussing myths and misunderstandings about mindfulness practice. “A lot of people think that mindfulness is synonymous with ‘calm’ and that practicing mindfulness means sitting quietly, still, and experiencing relaxation. In fact, mindfulness is actually about being aware of whatever is happening in the present moment. Sometimes that’s pleasant, sometimes unpleasant, but the skill of paying attention on purpose gives us the freedom to choose how we react to all that’s unfolding in our lives.”

In addition to his roles as teacher and trainer, Mr. Brown is also a contributing author and editor of Mindful Schools’ K-12 student curriculum and was a regional trainer and curriculum consultant for the educational organization GLSEN, where he also served on the National Advisory Board for several years.

He holds a bachelor of arts degree in film, cinema and video from Johns Hopkins University and a master of arts degree in humanistic studies from the University of Chicago.  Fulbright Fellowship recipient, Mr. Brown holds advanced certifications in Somatic Experiencing™ Trauma Therapy, mindfulness in education, Mindfulness-Based Stress Reduction (MBSR), positive psychology and positive education, and vinyasa yoga.

Click "play" below to watch Mr. Brown's Skeptics presentation.

History of Skeptics
The Society of Skeptics was established as a forum for students and faculty to discuss and debate important global issues; it has grown to become one of the premier high school lecture series in the United States. Each week, speakers from the political, social, scientific, economic and literary arenas share their unique perspectives with students, who are encouraged to engage with presenters, asking questions and debating points of view.
The program, which is funded in part by the Class of 1968 Society of Skeptics Endowment Fund, is an outgrowth of the Blair International Society, begun in 1937. Forty years later, former history department chair Elliott Trommald, PhD, Hon. ’65, established the modern Skeptics program as a regular forum for student discussion and debate; history teacher Martin Miller, PhD, took over in the mid-1980s and molded the program into a weekly lecture series, one that has since continued without interruption. Under the tutelage of Dr. Miller and his successor, history department chair Jason Beck, Skeptics has featured a wide variety of speakers who are thought-provoking, engaging, accomplished in their respective fields and often controversial. For a listing of upcoming Skeptics programs, please visit Blair’s website.

Recent Lectures

society of skeptics logo
Paula Hong '16

On Thursday, April 18 the Blair community welcomed the daughter of Holocaust survivors, Betty Schwartz, in a conversation moderated by Lisa Friedman in the forum of the Chiang-Elghanayan Center for Innovation and Collaboration. This event, graciously sponsored by the Alex “ARob” Roberts Forum on Holocaust Education, is part of an ongoing commitment to bringing impactful speakers to Blair on the subject of the Holocaust and is inspired by the legacy of Alexander Roberts ’18

Read More about Keeping the Stories Alive Program Helps Blair Remember the Holocaust & Its Survivors