Our "Alma Mater"
Choate Rosemary Hall is my alma mater.
For those of you who do not know; Choate is a private preparatory Boarding and Day School in Connecticut, U.S.A. Famous people attend(ed) this school like, J.F.K., Ivanka Trump, and me. ;)
A few weeks ago, my alma mater released a report that detailed evidence of numerous sexual encounters and mentions of abuse between faculty members and students from the 1960- present day. Five of the faculty members mentioned were active teachers while I was a student there.
Three of them were my teachers.
This brought up a lot of emotion for me; I spent a few days in a bit of a fog about it, because there were so many feelings.
1) There was validation: of my intuition, of the truth coming out, of revealing what I had always felt to be true but never really knew why.
2) There was disappointment: disappointment that the school would let all of this behavior happen, disappointment AND TOTAL grief that TEACHERS would behave in this way with a student, disappointment that sexual assault and abuse is still so taboo, disappointment in my self, because I had heard rumors, and because I was 14, I did nothing, because I did not know WHAT to do.
3) There was motivation. Motivation because Choate- as an academic institution- gave me access to the structural framework of who I am today. Without this school, I would never have been able to nourish the facets of me so deeply during my adolescence that resulted in the woman I have become, the teacher I have become, and the human being I have become today.
It is BECAUSE of my experience learning at Choate that I walk proudly in the belief that "anything I set my focus on, I will achieve and create." My four years at Choate are a living testament to that belief.
This got me thinking, what does "alma mater" mean anyway? Well, literally, it means "nurturing mother." HOW DID WE GET HERE, where our nurturing mother becomes a place where students' bodies are not considered in the nurturing?
Teen-aged students look like adults in many ways; they act like them in many ways.
It is a confusing time for everyone, because it is an important time of transition for these remarkable adolescents.
Some of the best work I did my senior year in high school, was inspired by these teachers, who, were not being entirely honest in their role of creating nurturing environments for students to grow.
There is a way to inspire students and nurture them safely. As a teacher, parent, or leader, it is OUR responsibility to guide these important souls through this time, so they come out the other side, not only nurtured intellectually, but in full awareness that they are empowered in their bodies, as HUMAN-BEINGS who believe that they can DO anything.
Do not throw away this time in your students', your childrens' lives. This has a tendency to be the forgotten time, but what happens if we, as teachers, as educators, remember it, honor and and hold it so utterly sacred?
How do we become more full of integrity and fidelity- how do we create an alma mater whose motto holds weight?
Take stock, right now, what motto are you raising your children, your students by? How much are you upholding that motto?