Acknowledge, address, and educate the whole person – child or adult – by recognizing the role that social, emotional, physical, & mental health plays in a person’s ability to thrive in school & society.
Executive Director & Lead Teacher
Kara Schmidt was born in Goshen, IN, but her family moved to Paoli when she was just a baby. She grew up in Southern Indiana surrounded by woods and a close-knit church family that owned land cooperatively. Kara graduated from Paoli High School in 1992, and later graduated from Goshen College with a Bachelor’s Degree in Interdisciplinary Studies.
Throughout childhood and into her young adult years, Kara was very interested in health and wellness. This interest, along with her struggles with depression and anxiety as a teen, led her to yoga in 1996. While living in Goshen, IN Kara took yoga consistently. In 2000, she began teaching classes. This led to her opening her own yoga business in 2005, which turned into a thriving yoga studio that she sold in 2012 because of her move to Chicago, IL. After living in Chicago for several years, Kara and her spouse, Andy, moved to Paoli and purchased an old historic warehouse that had once been part of a Tomato Cannery. She and Andy have been married since 1998, and both have a vision and passion for finding creative ways to be of service to both the local and greater community. The “Tomato Products Company” is not only their home, but also houses their businesses and non-profit arts organization. Kara continues to teach yoga, movement, mindfulness and wellness classes to adults through her for-profit business, So IN Body. But most of her time is spent in working with the local schools, through Team Peace. Outside of her work, Kara enjoys spending time in her and Andy’s home. She likes to walk in the woods, garden, go cycling with friends, and doing puzzles. Kara spends a lot of time continuing her education by taking a variety of courses online. Some of her training in the last few years includes:
- ACEs Master Trainer through the Indiana ACEs Coalition
- Mindful Schools Year-Long Certficiation in teaching mindfulness in schools & in the classroom
- Applied Polyvagal Theory and Yoga through Embody Lab
- Integrative Somatic Trauma Therapy through Embody Lab
- Applied Educational Neuroscience with Dr Lori Desautels through Butler University
- Mindfulness Facilitator Training through MNDFL
- Classroom 180 – Creating a Trauma-Informed Classroom with Heather Forbes
Find out more about Kara and how she created Team Peace in the section Our Story.
Board Of Directors
- Story Asbell (Chair of Board) – Lead Teacher with Team Peace
- Kate Jones – School Counselor at Orleans Jr Sr High School
- Laura Line (Treasurer) – First Grade Teacher Throop Elementary School
- Heather Nichols – Journalism Teacher Paoli Jr Sr High School
- Pam Phillips – Pre-K Teacher Orleans Elementary School
- Kara Schmidt – Executive Director & Lead Teacher of Team Peace. Owner of So IN Body
- Sherry Schmidt – Healing Arts Center Committee Member
- Brandy Terrell (Vice Chair of Board) – DSW, LCSW Southern Indiana Community Health Care
- Jamie Walker (Secretary) – School Health Coordinator of Orange County, Community Health – IU Health Bloomington
Community Partners, Supporters, & Donors
We would like to aknowledge and thank all our partners, sponsors and donors. Without you we would not be able to continue doing this important work!
Team Peace grew out of the work of Kara Schmidt, a yoga, movement and mindfulness teacher of over 20 years.
Kara began teaching yoga classes to adults in 2000. But in 2007, Kara took a kids yoga teacher training with Radiant Child Yoga. and began offering some classes to children at Spacious Heart Yoga, her yoga studio in Goshen, Indiana.
In 2009, Kara collaborated with a local Mennonite pastor, Steve Thomas, who was a black belt in taekwondo. They started a summer camp called Peace Camp which combined Kara’s expertise in yoga and mindfulness and Steve’s nonprofit called Peacemakers Inc. Through his nonprofit, Steve had created and offered a program for youth called “Empower”. The program was designed specifically to address bullying and give kids tools to address bullying in their lives, whether they were the victim, the perpetrator or a bystander. Steve’s program combined taekwondo and conflict resolution tools. Steve and Kara worked together for 3 years in their collaboration and served over 100 children. The program ended because Kara moved to Chicago in 2011.
Kara moved back to her hometown of Paoli, Indiana in 2015. In 2018, a group of people from Orange County began to gather regularly to discuss what it might look like for our county to focus on becoming more trauma-informed, across all sectors. These gatherings included law enforcement, educators, health care workers, mental health workers, faith leaders and other community organizations. Eventually this group of people became a coalition that is now known as Thrive Orange County.
It was through these meetings that Kara became acquainted with educators and was eventually invited to come to offer a yoga and mindfulness class to Laura Line’s first grade class in the spring of 2019. After a 6 week pilot program, Throop Elementary invited Kara to return the next year to offer these tools to 6 classrooms (about 125 students), mostly first graders. The teachers and administrators began to notice shifts in the children’s ability to recognize and talk about emotions and in their ability to self-regulate. All the teachers noticed a positive impact in classroom behavior and in the student’s ability to come back to focus after big emotions. The teacher’s reported that the tools that the kids were using were actually allowing for more time to be spent on academics.
Because of these results, more teachers wanted to come on board to include the program into their own classrooms.
Team Peace programs are now in two local schools, Orleans and Paoli and has expanded to serve approximately 900 students, grades K-12, in the 2022-2023 school year.
Kara had been offering her programs at the schools as an independent contractor through her small business, So IN Body, but in the summer of 2022 she decided to start a nonprofit to help support the continued growth of the programs.
While most of the programming that Team Peace offers is directly to students in the classroom during the school day, we have plans to expand the program to include supportive personal and professional development to educators and school staff. We believe that adults that feel confident in their own ability to regulate their nervous systems and handle stress and conflict in healthy ways lead to children who learn these tools through example. We want to support educators in feeling confident in practicing resilience-building tools for themselves and in finding creative ways to integrate these tools into their daily classroom routines.