A school’s course schedule can tell you a great deal about its priorities and Westridge’s practically shouts our belief that social and emotional health are central to both our students’ well-being and their education. Though at many schools health and human development is often limited to periodic, semester-long courses or carved out of PE classes, at Westridge, the human development (HD) program is an intentional, developmental program from grades 4 through 12, including dedicated classes once a schedule rotation (every six days) in grades 7 through 12.
“Our school counselor talks about the luxury of time we have to devote to human development and social emotional learning. This is true, but we have worked hard to make that time,” says Head of School Elizabeth J. McGregor. “Students’ social and emotional health is central to their well-being and personal growth and directly tied
to their ability to be ready to dive into learning. I think our investment in this human side of education shows in the authenticity, confidence, and compassion that people tell us they see across our student body.”
The HD program is framed by four pillars—Self & Society, Relationships & Human Reproduction, Consent & Safety, and Health & Wellness—with age-appropriate curricula spanning each area. For example, Consent & Safety begins with discussions of boundaries, kindness, and respect in the Lower School, addresses assertiveness and cyber-safety and social media in the Middle School, and includes formal self-defense classes in the Upper School.
The themes of identity and self-reflection are central to the program, culminating in an in-depth look at self-care and strategies to manage all that students take on in the upper grades, guidance in navigating the college application process in junior and senior years, and a final semester learning important life-after-Westridge skills that will serve students well into college and beyond.
“Being a well-rounded student means so much more than having a long list of extracurriculars,” says Human Development Coordinator Zoe Muñoz (pictured above with Human Development teacher Regina Wei). “Our program gives students space to explore themselves and what is important to them. By the time they graduate, we want them to be prepared to be healthy, independent adults and to have a toolbelt of resources for when they need to seek help and support.”
This story was originally published in the Summer 2019 edition of Surgere Magazine.