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Beyond Academic Excellence

This past Friday was our second Open House.  I enjoy the opportunity to speak to potential SCS families about particular aspects of our School. I feel a bit like I am ‘cheating’ but have used some of my words from assembly for this week’s blog.

Our mission at St. Clement’s is to develop outstanding women who are intellectually curious, courageous and compassionate. A wonderful mission- and, yes, a tall order.

We are very much aware of our school’s reputation for academic excellence, and we are very proud of it. However, I do want to share another vital component that must, in our minds, be in place in order to ensure a successful and challenging program that achieves our mission.

Discussions with colleagues working in education as well as a wealth of research point to the necessity of an educational approach that takes far more than just the academic curriculum into consideration. At St. Clement’s, we have made a commitment,  not only to affording our girls with academic as well as co-curricular options, but also to ensuring that we are equipping our girls to be authentic, to seek and expect healthy relationships and to have a strong self-image and, most importantly, to demonstrate resiliency. While St. Clement’s is blessed as a small all-girls environment with a true spirit of community, the capacity building and support of our girls such that they leave us as resilient and independent women is something that does not just happen.  In what has become an increasingly fast-paced world, with a deluge of information at our fingertips, it is a challenge for staff and parents to guide high-achieving girls with high expectations as they navigate through life and its challenges. The ability to recognize how to take things as they come, to slow down and to be mindful of our approaches is a complex skill. It is one that requires a comfort with discomfort– a tension- as all of us want everything to be perfect; we want to feel positive and have everything work out, yet life has taught those of us with some years under our belts that things just don’t always happen in smooth and uncomplicated ways. Thus we find ourselves, an institution of excellence, working to clarify that this means building capacity and understanding that excellence requires a journey- that it is not solely about outcomes but more importantly about understanding oneself.

Almost five years ago, our School introduced our LINCWell program: LINCWell is an acronym for Learning, Individualization, Nurturing, Creativity and Wellness. This program has been evolving since its inception and we see it as not an isolated department, but in essence, the umbrella under which all learning takes place. Our desire is to have our girls Learn Well, Lead Well and thus Live Well. The importance of ensuring that we embed this focus into our educational experience is very important to us. As an alumna of St. Clement’s, I know that this was a missing piece at our school 30 years ago. We are also very cognizant that the program must be dynamic- with our students being able to have a voice in its programs and their implementation as they are the main beneficiaries of this program. Not to leave anyone out, we are also fortunate to be able to host speakers and events for our parents and local community. We are thrilled to be hosting Rachel Simmons, author of The Curse of the Good Girl: Raising Authentic Girls With Courage and Confidence this coming Tuesday, and we all appreciate the wisdom an outside expert’s perspective provides.

We welcome you to St. Clement’s- a school of which we are very proud- and one that affords not only an exceptional academic experience but a commitment is to learning, leading and living well.

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