Salina Gray, PhD, (she/they) has spent 26 years teaching in traditional public, charter and graduate schools. In 2014, she received her doctorate from Stanford University in Curriculum and Instruction in Science Education. She is the coauthor of a published framework called ‘The (W)holistic Science Pedagogy’ as well as various articles on climate education and justice. She currently volunteers for Trauma Informed Los Angeles (TILA) and the Human Rights Cadre for the California Teachers Association (CTA). Salina obtained her 200-hour yoga certification through Breathe for Change, and is a certified Resilience Toolkit Facilitator, through Lumos Transforms.
Salina is a graduate of Cohort 4, and works in Moreno Valley, CA. We had the pleasure of speaking with Salina this month to learn more about how she is integrating The Resilience Toolkit into the incredible work she does.
Describe your experience of facilitating The Resilience Toolkit in 1-2 words.
How are you working with The Resilience Toolkit?
I’m a middle school science teacher, so I would say I’ve definitely been using it in my classroom with my students. I’m also part of the CTA, California Teachers Association, Human Rights Cadre, and I’m on the committee that focuses on social emotional learning. We’ve done workshops at different California teacher/educator conferences, in Northern and primarily Southern California. So I’ve definitely brought the work there. I’ve done a few other conferences, as well – ITOC, Institute for Teachers of Color – I brought it there. So anytime that I present at this point, I bring aspects of the Toolkit. And it’s pretty much the foundation of my work at this point, different aspects of it.
My background prior to the Toolkit, which is what led me to the Toolkit…it was just such a divine part of my journey, you know? Like, we all go through things, and we’re like, “yes, that had to happen!” I think I was bound to be led to the Toolkit. My background is very much social justice, education, trauma-informed education – even before we called it trauma-informed. That’s been 20 years for me…doing “yoga” with fourth graders having no yoga training, but taking some classes and knowing that getting my students to move, to tap into their bodies and their breath, was good for them. And I combined it all of my personal healing work. The therapies, the cognitive behavioral therapy, all the things that have been a part of my personal healing merge so beautifully with the Toolkit, and the Toolkit actually helped me make sense of literally the decades of healing work. Things were working, but there was always a feeling like there was something else. I kept thinking, “there’s something else, there’s something else.” And the Toolkit was that something else that I needed to help me make sense. And really, the embodiment. That’s what was missing with all the work. Even if I was doing physical practices, somatic practices, I still didn’t really get it. The Toolkit gave me the language to really understand and make sense of what all my healing modalities were doing. And once I understood it, it literally changed everything.
What has been most satisfying in your work as a Resilience Toolkit Facilitator?
Across the board at this point, I can say it’s probably been at least a little more than 1000 folks I’ve shared this with, to be honest. During COVID, I did a couple of virtual trainings, and I think one of them, there were more than 600 people. So I’ve done a few really large events like that. And overwhelmingly, there’s been this consistent message. I get emails, I get messages, I have people who talk to me, who thank me and say, “you know, I’ve never thought about these things,” though they’ve maybe heard different aspects in different ways. And across the board, this is life changing. Often what happens is when I present someplace, I get invited someplace else, by someone who’s there. I get a lot of “everybody needs to hear this. Everybody needs this information.” And that’s every time I present, I get that kind of feedback.
Describe a challenge you have encountered in your work as a Resilience Toolkit Facilitator.
The challenge is really me, to be honest. As I said earlier there are facets of the Toolkit that I bring in. Part of it is because while I do go into my stretch zone, I don’t go in as much. And so there are certain aspects that I don’t bring in. And so that’s the challenge. The challenge is, I guess, me wondering: what is keeping me from more implementation, more explicit implementation in certain spaces? And so it’s really me, that’s the challenge – it’s’ me, because people are very open and receptive. And they want more. I’m always like, “Whoa, this is all I can offer!” But then for everything I do, for the past five years, including my wedding, I find a way to link Lumost Transforms and Nkem. Her face is bread and Lumos Transforms the spread, because I include it as a resource in everything I do. So I think the challenge is me, I suppose.
How are you seeing alchemical resilience and transformation show up in the work that you’re doing?
This is how I have used the Toolkit, since being trained. I went through the three intro sessions first, and then I went and enrolled in a certification program, so that’s actually for the past few years, how I have used the Toolkit. And I called it a pedagogy of resilience, and it really was this idea of alchemical resilience.
I’m seeing it in teachers. My argument was, and I got this from Nkem, that resilience is not a cure, it’s not going to heal you. And so my spin on it, what I would present to folks is that what it will do is help you develop the capacity to envision liberation, and make choices and make decisions. And so sharing that with educators, I’m seeing it in the folks I talked to, when I see them later them saying, “you know, I’m using this, and this this is how I’m using it.” That’s one place that I’m definitely seeing it. Then I’m seeing it in my friends who I’ve shared with, and how they are using it. And they’re different environments. So I’d say it’s very microscale. Partially because I just don’t interact with a whole lot of people outside of education, but that is definitely where I’m seeing it. I’m seeing how educators of all sorts are really latching on to this idea of internal capacity building, by really developing this embodied self-awareness, managing our nervous systems, recognizing where we are.
And I’m also singing it in the kiddos. Just today, one of my bosses came up to me and said, “Keep doing what you’re doing, because I had a really good conversation with a student.” So I’m assuming that student talked about some of what’s going on in my class. So that’s one way I’m seeing it in myself, too, and how I’m showing up for students who have a lot of challenges and are very spicy. And yet I am able to love them. Because I have this embodied practice.
Describe any special projects you are working on.
I’m recently married two years ago, and my partner and I are both educators and both very committed. He’s a life coach, and we talk a lot, and he gets to see my presentations, and so he has really latched onto this embodied self-awareness as well and incorporates that also in his work. So together, we, mainly he, created a business called Brown & Gray Healing. He does some live coaching and I – again, being the challenge for myself was like, “Well, I don’t know what I can really do.” I’m trained, but just not feeling the confidence and not feeling like I really have a skill set. But I recently had the opportunity through an organization here in the Inland Empire, to develop a multiple week program to bring in activist community members, and to basically take them through my way of embodying and applying the Toolkit along with the other things that I do. It’s a four week program, it’s going to be free for the folks in the community. This will be our beta test starting in a couple of weeks. But the foundation, my vision – everything comes from the Toolkit and Nkem, convincing me that it’s embodied awareness is central to everything. So I’m trying to bring it to a small group. The idea is they’ll get a certificate through Brown & Gray Healing that will allow them to take this into their communities and develop some kind of program with these principles, and just go from there. I’m calling it Healing Community Activism. I like the double entendre – it’s a healing form of community activism, but also, community activism and activists need some healing. So that’s what’s going on now, and it is only because of my time, under the mentorship and guidance of the great Nkem, that I could even have the confidence to try to embark on something like this. I feel like she has trained me, she has taught me, she has modeled so much. I want to do this work justice – and not just keep it in my safe place with my students and other teachers.
What’s something that has piqued your interest recently that you would want to share with other Toolkit facilitators?
If you have not taken the Toolkit 2 workshop I just did with Nkem a few weeks ago – oh my God, THAT is the thing that has piqued my interest. I know I’m a big fan, and I’m always like, “l’ll go see…” but I did not think I could have more mind blown, and I absolutely was. That’s where my brain is. And, yes, I have to say, I’m loving this alchemical resilience.
And I will say that this embodied awareness via the Toolkit is the lens that I look at and read everything through. I’m going into late perimenopause, and it’s pretty dramatic. But the way I’m experiencing it is so different than other people I know. And I know that it’s because of what I’ve learned with the Toolkit. So that is something that’s piquing my interest as well – is thinking about how to bring the Toolkit to the perimenopause, menopause, post menopause set. Because I mean, it’s what’s been keeping me from pulling my hair out. So I’ve been thinking a lot about that and reading everything I can on this age and stage of life. There certainly is not much that talks about it, from going through it in a way that’s embodied. So something I’ve been fixated on.
Anything else you’d like to share?
In my early years, I used to say, “last night, the DJ saved my life.” Because music and dance literally kept me in my body. And so I’m just so blessed to say right now that literally the Resilience Toolkit has saved my life – literally – and has allowed me to thrive. And I mean, I’m thriving! Even on my days when I’m sad and crying and weepy, the hopelessness that I’ve struggled with as one who was diagnosed with Complex Post Traumatic Stress Disorder, dysthymia…for decades…that even in those moments of depression, a strong sort of embodied depression, it’s a such a different experience. There’s a hope, and an understanding that I have in those moments. There’s never the question, “can I get through it? Can I make it? I can’t do this anymore.” It’s like, “okay, I’m tapping into my body. I’m tapping into my nervous system. I’m trying different practices.” That’s what I want folks to know. It literally saved my life.
If you are interested in connecting with Salina, you can find them on https://brownandgrayhealing.com/.