Nurturing Social and Emotional Wellness at St. John’s Episcopal School
The mission of St. John’s Episcopal School includes nurturing the development of the whole child. In addition to guiding our Cardinals through their “intellectual, physical and spiritual development”, there is an ongoing effort to enhance an emphasis on their socio-emotional development. It is understood that the pre-frontal cortex of the brain that helps an individual to organize information, plan and formulate strategies, engage in problem solving and decision making, is still developing during childhood and adolescence. During this phase of life, we are therefore still constructing our cognitive ability to navigate our social and emotional experiences.
Furthermore, we are aware that even the most highly competent individual can lack focus and the ability to function in a healthy manner, due to feeling consumed with personal turmoil. The application of coping skills is usually what helps us to remain functional, despite challenges. It is therefore essential to guide our youth in identifying and applying these skills, as well as gaining an understanding the importance of leading balanced lives that attend to the health of all aspects of themselves.
Learning opportunities regarding socio-emotional skills are created with the aim of preventing life challenges before they occur or become a crisis. Our faculty, Advisors, school leaders, the school counselor and guest speakers, use various forums for the instruction of these skills. Though we are striving to focus on skills which help with resilience from adversity, we hope to continue to address topics according to demonstrated need and include standard useful areas such as:
GOALS & VALUES
- Cooperation and Team Building
- Communication and Social Skills
- Stress Management
- Study Skills and Time Management
- Conflict resolution/Problem Solving/Decision making
- Relational Aggression
- Anger management
- Diversity and Inclusion
- Alcohol and Substance Use prevention
- Puberty, Hygiene, Reproductive Health, Consent
- Transitioning - Lower to Middle School, Middle to High School, High School to College
Short term individual and group counseling services are also available for our students. Students seen by our Counselor do so by self-referral as well as referrals from faculty, Administration and parents, however, generally, all are welcome. The Counseling approach used tends to be eclectic, knowing that each student is unique and may respond to a variety of modalities. However, cognitive-behavioral methods tend to be most useful, as students develop an understanding that our thoughts influence behavior and emotions. Therefore, learning to restructure thoughts from destructive to constructive can be, among other practices, a magical key to survival and happiness.
Peer Helping is also a newly emerging vital resource for socio-emotional well-being at St. John’s. It is known that in the world of children and adolescents, peer influence is powerful, and statistics show that our youth are more likely to be inspired by their peers in ways that are more lasting and profound. With that said, student leaders identified and interested in helping their peers-PALS, are trained in basic peer helping, peer mediation communication skills by the School Counselor and PALS supervisor, and are available on an as needed basis to support their peers.
USEFUL RESOURCES FOR PARENTS
Mindset, Carol Dweck - developing the growth mindset encouraged in today’s world
The Mindful Child, Susan Greenland- helping your child “manage stress, become happier kinder and more compassionate”
Girls will be Girls: Raising Confident and Courageous Daughters; JoAnn Deak, Ph.D.
Raising Cain: Protecting the Emotional Life of Boys, Dan Kindlon, Ph.D., Michael Thompson, Ph.D.
Creating Innovators: The Making of Young People Who will Change the World, Tony Wagner
ScreamFree Parenting: Raising your Kids by Keeping your Cool, Hal Runkel
Sticks and Stones: Defeating the Culture of Bullying and Rediscovering the Power of Character and Empathy, Emily Bazelon
How to keep your Teenager Out of Trouble and What to Do if you Can’t; Dr. Neil Bernstein
May I Kiss you? A candid look at Dating, Communication, Respect and Sexual Assault Awareness; Michael J. Domitz
It is Nadine's passion to guide children and adolescents through their socio-emotional development, especially with regards to learning the skills of resilience, effective interpersonal communication, problem solving, and conflict resolution. This passion is driven from an awareness that the application of these and other coping skills is usually what helps us to remain functional and engaged despite adversity. They essentially empower us to strive towards our highest potential in every aspect of our lives. This provides a significant rationale for students to understand from their foundational years, how to define and apply these skills.
Nadine's counseling approach is eclectic, embracing the unique needs of each student, however, she is keen on cognitive-behavioral modalities, knowing that our thoughts can significantly influence our emotional and behavioral responses, and this can be a magical key to optimal functioning.
A glimpse of some of the support services Nadine offers include, but not be limited to:
- Short term, individual counseling, and external clinician referrals for more intensive services
- Life Skills/Social-Emotional Learning Classes
- Training and Supervision of a Peer Helping and Peer Mediation program
- Parent support and education forums
- Consultation and collaboration with teachers, school leadership and external clinicians
- Professional development facilitation- already in progress having facilitated a session on Social Emotional Wellness during our recent PD week.
"My efforts to develop our Counseling program will be a work in progress and thrive with a village approach, in which all those involved in our student's development work as a team. We will aim to create a healthy counseling culture, pushing through stigmas attached to mental health knowing that, in reality, it is the glue that holds us together and must be nurtured."