Wellness Seminars Help Students at NDA’s All-Girls High School Focus on Self-Care
Posted February 6, 2019
Students from the Academy of Notre Dame (NDA) are taking part in weekly Wellness Seminars to better understand and learn how to cope with societal pressures.
Facilitated by the Upper School guidance and health faculty, all grade levels at the Academy’s Upper School are required to take the new Wellness Seminar course. These classes cover a wide range of topics specific to each grade and address common issues for young women, such as stress management, spirituality, relationships and identity, and the impact of social media.
Each topic is viewed through several perspectives: social-emotional, spiritual and physical health. According to Stacy Marsden, NDA Guidance Counselor, all of these perspectives are equally important for young women to understand and obtain practical knowledge of for success in life.
"The Wellness Seminar helps our students to take a timeout and focus on themselves," explains Marsden. "As with a growing national trend, we are seeing students whose time and attention are in much greater demand and who feel a great deal of pressure to meet expectations. By learning more about themselves and practicing coping strategies our students will be more prepared for the challenges they will face in the future."
Integrating the Wellness Seminar into the curriculum is just one way the school focuses specifically on the needs of girls. Research conducted by the National Coalition of Girls Schools shows that the best learning environments for girls are those that provide immediate and frequent feedback, positive role-models, strong mentoring programs, experiential learning, and opportunities for collaboration and risk-taking.
“Students at NDA thrive in a learning environment that is specifically built with girls in mind,” says Interim Upper School Principal Pam Bernazani. “The advantage of a small school size allows continuity and close working relationships between students and faculty to provide individualized advice. The goal of the Wellness Seminar is to enhance the Academy’s mission and ‘teach them what they need to know for life.’”
"The Wellness seminar has helped me manage my school work more efficiently," says Sophomore Madeline Walent. "I have learned I can be more productive with good time management, making time for school, sports and my life."
Earlier in the year students in the Wellness Seminar explored different strategies for managing stress and school/life balance. Aligned with the NDA mission, the Wellness classes strive to promote a mind-body connection. Each class is started with breathing exercises and yoga, meditation and mindfulness have been practiced in class. Students have been given a variety of tools including self-assessments, inventories and group reflection to evaluate the sources of stress in their lives and explore ways to manage it. Whether it be through mindfulness, improving their time management or study skills, or finding time for exercise; students have personally developed strategies that help alleviate their individual stress. Currently, students are working with a grade appropriate Naviance curriculum that focuses on learning style, personality, career interest, and college exploration.