Print Page   |   Contact Us   |   Sign In
News & Press: General Articles

From SAIS President Debra Wilson - September 2019

Thursday, August 29, 2019  
Posted by: Anna Taylor
Share |

Dear friends,

Here we are in early September and the new year is in full swing. My social media feed is full of posts by delighted parents sending hopeful progeny off to school after often action-packed summers, days interspersed with hammock reads and rainy afternoons. Schools are also spreading the joy with videos and photos of the return to school, sports, and extracurriculars. School colors, songs, and traditions abound.

And yet, as I watched my own 14-year-old head out the door to her first day of high school, I found myself thinking what every parent likely thinks: “Please be kind to my child. Please know her and recognize her talents. Please nurture her and help her grow. Let her find her people who provide her with another base from which she can continue to thrive, learn, and become the person she is meant to be.” For all of the joy there is in schools – and there is a tremendous amount of it – there is also an incredible amount of pressure around the student experience.

This pressure is amplified by health and wellness struggles we know this generation is facing. As you know, there is no one thing causing our students to struggle. Some people like to blame technology; others look to the pressure from anxious parents. Students in high-achieving schools have special stressors and vulnerabilities, too, that are important to understand.

This golden time of year, my student experience thoughts go directly to two areas of student health and wellness that have been getting more attention: student belonging and loneliness. Belonging and loneliness are obviously two sides of the same coin. Belonging in the school context concerns whether a student feels accepted and supported in the environment. It is an important tool in schools that fuels engagement and academic success. Belonging can also reduce levels of anxiety and depression. This is an important data point to track and an area in which we can do better; in 2018, the Independent School Health Check reported that only 50% of independent school high school students reported they felt they belonged at their school.

Loneliness is a rising concern in the United States as a whole, but particularly among iGen as it goes through school. This generation has fewer face-to-face interactions, which are important to staving off loneliness. A lack of belonging and loneliness tie directly to depression, and this issue is resounding across college campuses in particular.

Given this background, now is a good time for your school leaders to reflect on how to keep this initial wave of enthusiasm for campus life and engagement high, and to address engaging students who are new to your school or might be on the periphery of the excitement. Helping students find their home in your school now will not only improve their time with you; it will also build skills that will support them in college and beyond.

Other notes…

SAIS will be hosting some online conversations this year. These events are designed to address key issues of interest to our schools. Our first one is October 3rd on creating compensation systems. What would you like to learn about this year? Participate in our online survey!

Finally, fall always seems to bring a watershed of new resources and this year is no exception. Here are some links to some articles that have got me thinking.

Wishing you the best as the school year unfolds,

Debra P. Wilson
President, SAIS


1619 Project
The New York Times has started releasing pieces of its ambitious
1619 project. The podcasts are free and will be released every Saturday. An overview and insight into the beginning of slavery in the United States as well as the history of African American race relations and beyond in this country, the series will likely be an incredible resource.

Four Trends Influencing Education

Parent Perspective:

Sleep and Students

Fundraising Issues


Legal Issues

Calendar more
Academic Support Conference
January 26-28 | Atlanta, GA

Athletic Directors Conference
January 26-28 | Atlanta, GA

MISBO-SAIS Academy: Operational Leadership

January 26-28 | Atlanta, GA

Leadership Retreat
April 20-21 | Chattanooga, TN

More Events

Membership Management Software Powered by YourMembership  ::  Legal