The Loomis Chaffee Log

Ask the Head – Week of November 19th 2018

With this year’s school theme being Mental Health, I was wondering if Loomis has planned any special events, convocations, or discussions to look forward to this coming winter term?

Stress is something that the faculty and I think about a lot.  We have a number of speakers who will be addressing the topic of mental wellbeing over the next few months. Our next Hubbard speaker on December 10 is Dr. Leon Chameides, who survived the Holocaust as a young boy.  For MLK Day, we have Professor Anthony Ryan Hatch of Wesleyan University, who is speaking on how racial inequality affects physical and mental wellbeing.   In February, we have Emily Esfahani Smith, author of the Power of Meaning.

Our final Hubbard Speaker (in conjunction with the English Colloquium) in April is poet and educator Clint Smith. He gave an excellent TED talk “Celebrating Resilience – Reframing the narrative around our students” We will also look to do more internally on this topic through advisor meetings and the dorms.  

Considering our all-school theme, what is your opinion on the concept of stress? Specifically in high school, I would consider myself and those around me to be stressed out by academic, athletic, and social pressures. Do you think there is good stress as well as bad stress, or that feeling worn down by work and our schedules is always detrimental?

Yes, I do think there is good and bad stress. A certain level of stress is necessary and can be motivational—it’s what gets us up in the mornings, encourages us to try our best, to get assignments in on time, etc….But I worry when this normal level of stress becomes distress. It is at this point that stress becomes harmful and can create anxiety and other difficulties. Distress is counterproductive and actually makes it harder for us to accomplish what we need to do.  I think it is very important that students learn to deal with the normal amount of stress that is always going to be part of their lives—by learning time management and organizational skills, by eating a healthy diet, by exercising, getting enough sleep, and building time into their days to have fun and to be with friends. As a faculty we try to encourage all of these behaviors.When a student’s level of stress become distressful, they should know that we are here to help and they shouldn’t hesitate in asking for help. We have lots of resources that we can use to work with students. 

We have all at some point become overwhelmed by things. As a community we are here to help each other past these moments.

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Ask the Head – Week of November 19th 2018