Sustaining Ourselves and Each Other

By Geordie Mitchell, assistant head of school for enrollment management and outreach

The pandemic has introduced stresses in all of our lives that most of us could never have imagined two years ago. As the projections of when life would return to “normal” stretched further into the future, our reaction shifted from short-term crisis mode to one of adaptation of the “new abnormal.” A new wave of the pandemic in late summer seemingly pushed us backward. Hope mixed with frustration was exacerbated by the unknown. We know the short-term impact of the pandemic on adults and students alike and the challenges we have all faced as a result. We don’t yet know the long-term effects of stress, anxiety and isolation.

This year, I joined the Upper School advisory team with my co-advisor, Assistant Director of Admission Keri Worth. In our 11th-grade advisory, we recently discussed “Wellness: Recognizing and Reporting.” We reminded students when and how to use our Say Something Anonymous Reporting System and discussed the importance of being an upstander. The system, created by the Sandy Hook Promise nonprofit organization, encourages students to submit secure, anonymous safety concerns to help peers who may be going through a challenging time. 

These kinds of honest conversations and the reminder that we need to look out for each other have never been more critical. The discussion and training reflected words and concepts that are relevant and important to this campus: dignity and community. The most encouraging aspect of this meeting was the almost universal agreement by our 11 junior advisees that they either had a specific trusted adult(s) on campus with whom to share their own challenges or were comfortable going to an adult at the school to report a concern about a peer. In fact, some questioned the need for the app given their comfort level with adults both on- and off-campus. That is good news!

At the risk of using a perhaps overused term, I believe in a “holistic” approach to education, which we have at LJCDS. Reading, writing and arithmetic (and science, world language, etc.) are important, but so too are the social and emotional skills our students need to truly inspire greatness for a better world. If the small sample set of my advisee group is any indication, we are on the right path.

I encourage this community to check in with ourselves, keep an eye on each other, and “say something” if we sense someone is struggling. That is what community is all about. 

<strong>Geordie Mitchell</strong>
Geordie Mitchell

Assistant Head of School for Institutional Advancement

Geordie Mitchell joined LJCDS in 2020 as assistant head of school for enrollment management and outreach after spending 30 years in admissions and 39 years in independent schools. He comes by his passion for education honestly as it is the “family business.” He grew up on a school campus in Baltimore and his mother, father, wife, daughter and son have all held various positions in independent schools.

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