Veteran and new PDS faculty and staff enthusiastically returned to campus this week for extensive rounds of meetings, planning sessions and preparation for the start of school. A key component of the week's professional development was a two-day interactive workshop with the deeply experienced counseling and mental health team from the Stanley King Institute. The Institute teaches school faculties intensive listening and response skills that promote learning, meaningful relationships, and responsible behavior for students.
Says Associate Head of School, Lisa Surace, "At PDS, our faculty is above all committed to being ever-present models for students. We act as guides through our responses, our actions, and our inactions. We know that students' needs are both evident and hidden, and that they seek adults who can handle feelings and experiences that sometimes overwhelm them."
The skills honed in the workshop augment the PDS faculty's extensive toolsets already in place at PDS and will be applied throughout the program: in advisory, teaching, coaching, conferencing, informally in gathering spaces -- anywhere. Everywhere. Faculty at all levels shared that the experience broadened and deepened their listening skills, and that they apply not only with students, but with colleagues, parents, and their own families.
It is perhaps one of PDS's greatest strengths that its faculty is so committed to being intentional mentors by fully listening and responding meaningfully to forge enduring connections with each student. The work is continual, and incremental, as Upper School English teacher and Peer Group counselor Tom Quigley explains, "My goal as a teacher for twenty-nine years at PDS is simple but complicated: to help each student figure out how to best lead themselves. At the center of my work with each student is to help them share and follow and realize a vision, no matter the dream or direction --in partnership with clear communication, patient resilience, a willingness to risk failure, and a lens guided by solid character." -Melanie Shaw
Read more about Princeton Day School's philosophy here.
Photo: Head of School Paul Stellato, second from left, hosted the Stanley King Institute staff at PDS: (left to right) Jonathan Wilson, Ellen Porter-Honnet, Paula Chu, Sam Osherson, Janet Sand and Melanie Drane.