Written by Pam Heintz, Head of School
The COVID pandemic has brought to light some interesting things. For example, we have learned that you can never have too much toilet paper in your linen closet, it is difficult to understand someone while they are wearing a mask, and we all measure 6-feet differently. Regardless of the COVID takeaways we will all be left with when we are on the other side of this pandemic, one thing is for sure, school-aged children have been emotionally affected by COVID. It has infiltrated their world, and for many of them, they have needed a safe place to process the many implications of this virus, as well as the social and political climate we currently find ourselves in at this juncture in history. NSCS was able to respond to this need by providing a safe place for our students.
We are thrilled that we were able to accelerate the launch of a new program at NSCS, as we responded to the need to provide Social and Emotional support to our students, and NSCS was able to open our doors in September with 100% in-person learning and our new SAFE Groups!
What is SAFE Group? SAFE stands for Students and Faculty Engaging. Twice a week our Middle School faculty team and their students hop off the academic track. Gathering in small breakaway groups, our faculty provides a safe space and critical time to engage students around social and emotional issues. Research supports the fact that students must have SEL (Social Emotional Learning) opportunities that are authentic and leave room for students to ask questions and wrestle with important, and often difficult, ideas, concepts, and experiences in a safe space. Especially now, during a pandemic and post-pandemic, students will need time to process and purposefully engage in community building efforts that support emotional well-being.
Research indicates that providing these intentional times for students will aid in increasing student learning by 11%, and will make for stronger communities. NSCS is thrilled to be on the cutting edge of this type of critical learning and student engagement. Our Deans of Students take very seriously their responsibility of providing the structure and oversight to these important groups, as well as being available to students as they provide emotional support.
SAFE Groups seek to foster Five Key Areas of important development for middle school-aged students; Self Awareness, Self-Management, Social Awareness, Relationship Skills, & Responsible Decision-making Skills. In keeping with our school Mission and our Four Pillars of Distinction, our SAFE Groups are facilitated through the lens of a Biblical World View, helping to shape confident, well-rounded, & faith-grounded children!