Kathy Witherspoon, Dean of Student Life, offers perspective on student growth during time at AHN.
All of us are working to figure things out, but teenagers and pre-teens especially. Our middle school students, who come to us as 10-or 11- year-olds, are figuring out what kind of teenagers they want to be. They are figuring out how they want to interact with their peers, their families, and larger communities. For many, the focus of their attention and influence shifts from their family to friends. They begin to develop their sense of self by how they see themselves through their friends’ eyes. What their friends think of them becomes paramount.
Our high school students are entering a period of incredible change. They begin ninth grade as 13- or 14-year-olds and leave us as legal adults ready to take on the world. During high school, students are figuring out what kind of young women they want to be and what is important to them. They begin to surround themselves with people who reflect their values and priorities.
As educational professionals, and as parents, it is our job to help students along this journey. While I never want to see a student in distress, it is sometimes the struggles that produce the most growth. Along with our team of dedicated educators, I support, guide, and care for students as they learn to figure out who they are and how they are going to live in this world.
This road is seldom smooth or without pit stops and detours, but that is part of the excitement of this developmental stage. It is a time of incredible growth. One of my favorite parts of this job is watching a confident young woman walk across the stage at graduation and remembering her as a shy sixth grader filled with uncertainty when she first started at Holy Names.
While I know our graduates have much they will still learn and experience when they move on, I hope we have helped them “figure it out” while they were here with us.