Student Support and Wellness at Westridge School



Westridge School understand the importance of social-emotional learning (SEL) and it places that at the forefront of student learning.

Each year research reveals more about how social and emotional well-being and skills, including self-regulation and empathy, are critical to both personal development and to achieving academic excellence. Students must feel grounded and secure to be ready to learn, and they need skills and support to do so while managing the natural disruptions of adolescent growth and change, challenges in their personal lives, and increasing levels of stress and anxiety among young people across the country.

We take seriously our responsibility to provide the most comprehensive network of support possible for our students. Student well-being and social emotional development is one of four focus areas in the school’s strategic plan, ensuring we have the best team in place for our students to turn to and the resources necessary to stay on the cutting edge of this rapidly expanding field. We are prioritizing faculty training in social-emotional learning so that it can be woven throughout our entire academic program and it is a part of Westridge’s unique human development program, which spans grades 4 through 12 and includes dedicated classes once per schedule rotation (every six days) in grades 7 through 12.

Above: Peer-to-Peer students organize several events for the student body to discuss topics related to body image, mental health, and more.

Student Support Team

Westridge School’s student support team is skilled in providing emotional support and social-emotional skill development as well as in supporting students with different learning needs.

• Dr. Lisa Carruthers, Psy.D., Director of Counseling & Student Support
• Cindy Conteas-Wood, RN, M.P.A., Director of Health & Wellness
• Tami Millard, MA, M.Ed., Upper School Learning Support Specialist
• Susie Murdock, M.Ed., Lower & Middle School Learning Support Specialist
• Sarah Simon, M.A., Human Development Coordinator
• Regina Wei, MA, M.A. MFT, Human Development Teacher
• Bonnie Martinez, MA, Upper School Dean of Student Support
• Masami Hansen, Lower & Middle School Dean of Student Support
• Advisors and deans in grades 7-12

Above: Upper School students meet with their faculty advisor in small groups during a dedicated advisory period.

Peer-to-Peer

One of the fastest growing programs at Westridge is its Upper School Peer-to-Peer counseling program, a group of nearly 40 specially trained Upper School peer helpers, educators, and empathic listeners. Student counselors are trained during a one-year intensive elective course. In addition to providing peer support, those who take a second or third year of Peer-to-Peer lead on-campus programs to raise awareness of issues relevant to adolescents, such body image and mental health.

Human Development

The Westridge Human Development (HD) program is framed by four pillars—Self & Society, Relationships & Human Reproduction, Consent & Safety, and Health & Wellness—with age-appropriate curricula spanning each area and themes of identity and self-reflection central to the program.

In the Lower School, the human development program takes the form of “council,” a dedicated time for 4th-6th graders for girls to discuss themes of empathy, integrity, conflict resolution. In council, Lower Schoolers gain the confidence to express themselves and their emotions, and learn about tools to build and sustain friendships. They also discuss respectful boundary-setting, puberty, nutrition, and more.

Westridge School’s Program

In the Lower School, the human development program takes the form of “council,” a dedicated time for 4th-6th graders for girls to discuss themes of empathy, integrity, conflict resolution. In council, Lower Schoolers gain the confidence to express themselves and their emotions, and learn about tools to build and sustain friendships. They also discuss respectful boundary-setting, puberty, nutrition, and more.

In Middle School HD, students learn about issues that impact their social, emotional, and physical lives, in and out of school. The curriculum provides an introduction to technology and social media use, boundaries in relationships, and bullying. Identity is a core theme throughout our 4-12 HD program, but it is especially pertinent in the 7th and 8th grade when girls experience much transition and change; with faculty facilitators, Middle School girls participate in HD “open sessions” in which they have the opportunity to share personal experiences, ask anonymous questions for class discussion, and talk with one another and their teachers about cultural and global issues.

Upper School girls are engaged in a carefully scaffolded program of social, emotional, health and college-related topics that respond to age-appropriate concerns with increasing sophistication over time. The courses guide students through Upper School and provide a foundation for self-awareness and personal growth.

9th grade HD is designed to help students transition into high school, with a focus on identity and belonging, consent and safety, and building soft skills (including professional email writing, a road map to meeting with faculty advisors, and more). Girls also receive an introduction to female reproduction and sexual health in coordination with the science department’s 9th grade Biology curriculum.

In 10th grade, girls are introduced to self-defense through practical, hands-on workshops with a female-led team of professional consultants. Our trained faculty also guide girls through in-depth discussions of their personal values, creating a safe environment for the broad range of perspectives represented in our community.

As students enter The College Process in 11th grade, the HD curriculum shifts toward strategies to manage stress and anxiety, providing space to practice mindfulness techniques and self-compassion.

Finally, 12th graders receive a final self-defense refresher and dive into topics that prepare them for college and beyond such as budgeting and finances, healthcare and independence, and mental health.

Westridge School, 324 Madeline Drive, Pasadena, (626) 799-1053 ext. 200 or visit www.westridge.org.

 

 

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