Throughout my career working in boarding schools, I have been fueled by the growth and development of countless adolescents. During this time, I have come to believe that one of the most valuable skills we can instill in our students is the art of self-reflection. It is through this process that young people not only discover themselves but also allows them to become stronger community members, in turn making the institution a better place.
Self-reflection is the important mirror through which our students begin to explore their true selves. In our students’ busy lives, it’s easy for them to get caught up in the often hectic schedule of academics, extracurricular activities, and social pressures. Taking time to pause and look within allows them to consider decisions made, reassess priorities, and care for themselves. Moreover, it helps inform their values, interests, and goals.
At New Hampton, we aim to find those important opportunities to slow down and encourage self-reflection, whether at a school meeting, advisory session, community program, or other break from our everyday routines. In doing so, we hope that students learn to identify their strengths and weaknesses, their interests and dislikes. This makes for more purposeful engagement in our community. Their self-awareness guides informed personal choices versus following a path they might feel others want them to pursue.
I believe that emotional intelligence is a crucial skill for young people, and self-reflection plays a pivotal role in its development. Through introspection, students learn to recognize their emotions, understand their triggers, and manage their reactions. This awareness improves their relationships with others and allows them to manage the stress associated with high school while preparing them to navigate the challenges of adulthood. By fostering emotional intelligence, we create a more compassionate and empathetic community where students support each other in their personal and academic journeys.
As our school recently completed our ten-year reaccreditation process with the New England Association of Schools and Colleges—an exercise of institutional self-reflection—I am reminded of the power of self-reflection in cultivating a growth mindset. When students and adults learn to evolve by leveraging setbacks as learning opportunities, they become more resilient and adaptable.
From the beginning of my time at New Hampton, I have been impressed and inspired by the faculty and staff’s commitment to fearless experimentation. They understand that venturing beyond the conventional mitigates the fear of failure and provides fresh perspectives that can achieve desired outcomes. In modeling this behavior, I hope we will develop students who are self-aware and prepared to confidently tackle the challenges and opportunities that await them beyond graduation.