Layers That Bind by Dean of Students Marcela Maldonado
We recently experienced the loss of Devin Nwanagu '05, a beloved colleague and alumna, who dedicated her all too brief life in service to Nobles. Even in our own personal sadness, as a small group of administrators gathered together to discuss how to disseminate this horrible news to the community, I couldn’t help but be reminded of the extensive services we have in place that speak to our commitment to students. This is especially true at this very difficult time, but we are well resourced on every level and every day to provide appropriate care and support for your children.
We pride ourselves on the unique student-teacher relationships that are fostered in and out of the classroom. Without question, it is these very relationships that serve as the bedrock for creating a climate of well being for our students. But it doesn’t end there. Indeed much of the research in the last few years attests to the fact that everything that happens outside the classroom has a stronger bearing on the future of a student than anything in the classroom. And so what it means to educate at Nobles is multi-faceted and multi-layered.
What is generally referred to as “Student Life” in most independent schools is not something ancillary but an integral part of a student’s educational experience at Nobles. It is also everyone’s responsibility at this school. The adults in this community, in our various capacities and roles, work together to create a culture of care for students and families by providing exemplary programs and services designed to enhance a student’s academic and personal success.
Your child’s advisor is the “front line” in that regard. He or she is the person a student or parent should reach out to for direct assistance, or for guidance and direction on who to go to next. No one makes decisions on their own or without input from others, and advisors certainly have a myriad of people they work with in the care of their advisee. A hallmark of this school is the climate of mutual trust and respect among adults, and we use our different talents in constructive ways.
Class Deans serve the role of overseers for the layers of adults necessary for securing a student’s educational goals. They help to coordinate academic support for students, and work with teachers to develop and implement strategies to help students succeed. The deans also marshal their respective classes forward by staying abreast of trends and tone, and ensure the transition from one class to the next via annual class retreats held each September that serve to reconnect students to each other and to the school.
The larger “adult layer” in the life of a Nobles student is that of the Student Life Team, comprised of the Dean of Students, Provost, Dean of Diversity Initiatives, the three school counselors, our two nurses, the Director of the Academic Achievement Center, and the school’s consulting psychologist. Each week we meet as a team to discuss issues and concerns within the student body or the larger Nobles community, and we work proactively on what might be on the horizon. Our goal is not merely to provide a band-aid to situations or concerns, but to be intentional, forward-looking, and broad-based about issues before us. These evolving issues can include the concerns of students seeking counseling, assisting those seeking academic accommodations, the role of public media, issues of academic dishonesty, under-age drinking, social concerns, etc… None of these issues are certainly unique to Nobles but part of the reality of high school culture today.
Experience has taught us not only how to best support students throughout their time here, but also the significance of working with, learning from, and involving others every step of the way. What makes Nobles thrive and singularly sets us apart is that the adults in this community work collaboratively and intentionally in the complete development of a child in our care. Devin benefited as a student and contributed to this paradigm as an adult. She understood the importance of what we do, and we are a better community for her having chosen to contribute to the experience of others who followed her here.