Educators and parents alike have long known that how a student feels about herself directly impacts her availability and investment in learning. When a student feels self-confident about herself and her abilities, she is motivated to approach her learning with interest and attention. On the other hand, if she feels anxious or pessimistic about her abilities, she is less available to attend and learn. We know - and research affirms - that self-perception and social and emotional wellness affects learning.
That is why at Purnell we have founded a new department for Learning and Wellness. We use our experience in teaching diverse learners and empirical studies in teaching and learning and neuroscience to guide what we do. The Learning and Wellness Department intentionally merges our health and guidance resources with academics to address this relationship between our students' well-being and their learning.
All members of our committee will work closely with our Head of School, Anne M. Glass EdM, our psychologist Dr. Martha Torres, our counselor Lindsey Skerker, our Dean of Dean of Students Donna Andeskie and our learning specialists to make sure our students have the social and emotional support necessary to engage fruitfully in the rich academic offerings at Purnell. This effort will include close collaboration with our Advisory program led by Lindsey Skerker. We will also draw on the expertise of Dr. Torres to ensure that each girl receives the accommodations and instruction she needs to be successful. Our aim is to raise to bar for all of our students to engage with curricula to maximum effect.
We aim to optimize the learning experience for every girl at Purnell, with deliberate attention to her individual learning style and needs. That goal is actualized by our whole school commitment to Universal Design for Learning, an approach to teaching that seeks to remove barriers to learning for each of our students. All of our faculty receive professional development in UDL in order to give them the tools and perspective they need to reach and teach all students.
Our dedication to Learning and Wellness is confirmed by recent research on the impact of self-perception on academic performance. It is further reinforced by our recognition of relevant educational theory by Erik Erikson and Carol Dweck on the construction of identity and its relationship to risk-taking and attention. At Purnell, we are dedicated to helping each girl see herself as vibrant and capable.