Life at Miss Hall’sNov 21, 2020

updated Dec 3, 2020

New efforts support our students’ wellbeing

In a year of particular adversity and uncertainty, Miss Hall’s is providing ever more ways to support our students

(Sophie Lane ’96)

Between COVID-19, racial injustice, the economy, and climate change, we all are experiencing a cascade of crises. And, our usual ways of coping with stress — hugs, gatherings, human connection — are largely unavailable right now. Teenage girls are especially vulnerable to this disequilibrium, piled on top of the societal pressures of adolescence.

Our job at Miss Hall’s School is to turn anxiety into action, commitment, and inclusiveness: to give young women agency in the world.

In this year unlike any other, we are:

  • Putting the power of digital platforms to work to support each other, to heighten awareness about women’s health and wellness, and to celebrate connectedness in the MHS community. On Giving Tuesday, December 1, 2020, we will spotlight the many initiatives and student projects happening around social-emotional wellness and lifting each other up. Our goal is to crowdsource energy and resources to benefit our shared wellbeing.
  • Supporting each student’s Personal Team. Every student at MHS has a Personal Team made up of her advisor, Proctor, dorm parent, coaches, deans, and counselors who can be activated to bolster wellbeing and ensure her success. Proctors five of whom are pictured above have been trained to have private conversations from a place of care and compassion. Every adult on a student’s Personal Team is checking in more frequently these days to make sure students have what they need, from access to reliable technology to downtime in their schedule.

Supporting Each Other

On December 1, we asked the Miss Hall’s community to support the wellbeing of our students by making a financial contribution to the myriad counseling, wellness, and health programs at Miss Hall’s. And boy did they deliver — sharing gratitude in abundance, and raising more than $70,000!

Read more about Giving Tuesday success
  • Scheduling humanely. With students in time zones around the world, the traditional, six-block school day was not going to work this year. Our new daily schedule — six, five-week terms, with two classes per term — asks students to dig deeper into their work, yet provides more time for access to teachers and advisors, College Counseling, ensembles, essential coalitions, and clubs. Each student’s schedule also includes a “What I Need,” (WIN) segment, built-in time that can be used for, well, whatever they need — extra help, time with an advisor, or a walk around campus.
  • Doubling down on women’s health education for all students. As part of the “me-to-we” curriculum of our signature Horizons program, MHS 9th-graders benefit from 12 sessions on mental health, mindfulness, nutrition, and sexuality. Our greenhouse programming always incorporates elements of social-emotional learning, and this year, we are redoubling efforts to slow down and disconnect from the fast-paced, uncertain nature of our current experience. Mornings at MHS often now begin with meditation and connection to one's body and mind before getting to work. In addition, this fall, ninth-graders have been hard at work planting garlic and cleaning up the Class of 1965 Senior Garden, hands-on projects that build connections among students and offer time away from screens.
  • Upping the volume on counseling opportunities. We have two excellent counselors at MHS: Kate Cimini who brings expertise in art therapy to the table, and Teresa Gentile, who has been a part of our community as a parent and a counselor for over 20 years. As we welcomed students back this fall, Teresa and Kate reached out in concerted ways to students on campus and around the globe. They also expanded the “Mental Health Way,” a system developed in-house by Kate to create a baseline for each MHS student, taking under consideration individual elements of wellness — exercise, eating, screen time, spirituality, and interpersonal relationships. This rubric allows adults to home in on what each girl needs and creates inroads for conversation and action steps.
  • Supporting student-led wellness projects through Horizons. On-campus Horizons internships this year offer opportunities to gain knowledge in various areas, including health and wellness. Five seniors are interning with the MHS Health Services Team, which includes the School Nurses and Counselors. Along with learning about careers in health services and following developments in the ongoing pandemic, they are exploring ways to provide physical and mental health and wellness education in terms of COVID-19 and in advance of the seasonal flu season, with an eye toward keeping everyone physically and mentally healthy. Other students, meanwhile, are developing a Meditation Garden on campus, at the intersection of Witherspoon, the Library, Centennial Hall, where they envision a tranquil, immersive space for raking gravel patterns, adjusting rocks, and setting cairns. Farther afield, an MHS student in China is doing philanthropic work connected to teenage mental health while another is working on a personalized project connected to music therapy.

Keep your eyes peeled to your inbox and to your social channels for more stories of these amazing, self-aware young women of Miss Hall’s School who know how to support one another!