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Get to know the NMH team

Angelita Castañon, dean of students

Debby Ghezzi, athletic director

Grant Gonzalez, assistant dean of faculty

Stacie Hagenbaugh, director of alumni relations

Joe Latimer, director of college counseling

Kristen Peterson, dean of student life programs

Dr. Sara Rourke, director of medicine

Beth Ruane, library director

AUG. 11, 2021 | Stacie Hagenbaugh


Stacie Hagenbaugh has joined NMH as Director of Alumni Relations. Previously, Stacie served for 15 years at Smith College as director of the Lazarus Center for Career Development. At Smith’s career center, she designed and built a program to connect “people to resources” — providing students and alumni with opportunities in career development and professional networking. Under her leadership, the program at Smith has transformed lives. In addition, her work and career have focused on many of the values that NMH shares, including lifelong learning, service, and inclusion, and she has been committed to developing programs that best serve people from traditionally underserved communities. Stacie earned a bachelor’s from Rutgers University and a master’s in education from the Harvard University Graduate School of Education. 

What drew you to NMH? 
NMH is such a vibrant community of learners with so much wonderful history. As a resident of nearby Montague, Massachusetts, I have been an admirer of NMH as a neighbor and have known many families whose children simply thrived here. It has also become very clear to me that there is an unwavering commitment to diversity and inclusion here and that has deeply impressed me. It’s a value I hold at my core — when it aligned so perfectly with NMH, I knew I had found my next professional home.

What motivates you in your work? 
I am a builder, a maker, and a designer at heart. I thrive when I can observe, notice, and learn, and then begin to stitch together something that doesn’t yet exist that also serves a need. That was a big draw for me in this role. There is an incredibly loyal and vibrant alumni population here with so much potential for engagement in new ways. I’m motivated by the possibilities and eager to tap a professional community of alumni who can help empower students to discover the kaleidoscope of pathways beyond NMH. 

What are some of your priorities or initiatives for the fall and beyond?
Naturally, I am eager to get to know the community more deeply. I also want to have conversations about what professional networks exist and how helpful they can be when someone is curious to learn more about professional and academic pursuits. I plan to build opportunities for students and alumni to connect around shared experiences and interests, and a priority will be to further that work for students and alumni of color.

What are your passions, hobbies, or interests outside of work?
I am an avid native species gardener with a big heart for pollinators, especially Ruby-throated hummingbirds. My gardens are all designed with them in mind. I also love photography, especially capturing the natural world. My wife and I are also BIG dog lovers. We have five pups and are blessed to live on a property where they can roam and just be curious dogs. 

What will you bring to NMH from your previous role?
Smith College has an incredible alumnae/i population, and as the director of career development, I quickly learned that they would do anything for students. So many of them were assisted by other alums, so reaching back to give a helping hand to students beginning their professional journeys was instinctual. Smith also has a very diverse student population and many students did not see themselves as having the social capital to call a “network.” It was particularly powerful to connect students from diverse backgrounds with alums whose lived experiences mirrored their own. I am very excited to build out these kinds of professional communities here at NMH. 

What lessons did you learn during the pandemic that you would like to carry forward at NMH?
It has been a very difficult year and a half. It was harder to connect with people and really make sure they were doing OK. And, many were and are not doing OK. I learned to reach out to people more often and sincerely check in on how they are doing. I am a naturally empathetic person, but I think I have come to realize how critically important it is to have that mindset in order to be a good citizen in a community. 

Are you going to serve in any additional roles at NMH? 
I am sure I will. I am still learning the campus and the community and what the opportunities are but I am eager to invest myself in NMH.


JULY 5, 2021 | Beth RUANE


We are pleased to welcome Beth Ruane, who will become the new NMH Library Director in August. Previously, she was library director at Marlboro College, where her responsibilities included collection management, administrative leadership, oversight of the archives, and strategic vision. The heart of her work at Marlboro was supporting the growth and advancement of the library as a center for academic excellence. Previously, Beth worked at Skidmore College, DePaul University, and University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign. Throughout her career, she has been dedicated to teaching students research and information literacy skills. She has a strong background in educational technology and has helped libraries incorporate it into its programs to better support students and community members. Beth is excited to use her experience at colleges to give NMH students a solid foundation of information, digital, and visual literacy that will help them be better prepared for their college experiences. 

What drew you to NMH? 
I strongly believe in progressive education and educational experiences that encourage students to discover their passions and take ownership of plotting their own course of study within a small, intentional learning community — one that welcomes diverse voices, new ideas, and creative thinking. I found all that at NMH. And while previously my focus has been in higher education, I’m excited to work with NMH students and support them as they prepare to enter college and continue their journeys to become critical thinkers and engaged citizens of the world. 

What motivates you in your work?
Hands down, it’s working with students and talented, dedicated colleagues. At the start of every academic year, there’s a real sense of renewed energy and excitement as everyone returns to campus and is eager to begin the business of learning together. I imagine that this year in particular, coming together will feel especially celebratory as we reflect back over the past year.

What are some of your priorities or initiatives for the fall and beyond? 
Thinking about the fall, it will be a huge thing for us to figure out how we emerge from pandemic restrictions and how we navigate a new stage of life still influenced by COVID-19. At the library, we’ll need to evaluate which services and resources implemented during the pandemic we want to keep and what’s the best way to integrate them into what the library was doing in the “before times” — with the goal of offering an exemplary level of support for students, faculty, and staff. The library is such an important space for the NMH community, and it will be exciting to reopen the building with all of our rooms back in use. 

What are some of your all-time favorite books and why?
It’s hard for me to pick favorite books because a story can mean very different things to you depending on when you read it in your life and what else is happening that might influence the way it impacts you, but I do find myself returning over and over again to certain authors, such as Margaret Atwood, Cormac McCarthy, John Irving, Haruki Murakami. 

What are your passions, hobbies, or interests outside of work?
I love living in New England and making the most of each season. In the fall, it’s apple picking and admiring the changing foliage; in winter, it’s snowshoeing and reading by the wood burning stove; and in spring and summer, I love hiking, visiting swimming holes, and gardening. I will forever feel like an amateur gardener. There’s so much that goes into successfully growing vegetables and so many variables you can’t control. I’m always trying to learn from more experienced gardeners and farmers. I also have two toddlers who keep me running! I’m excited to introduce them to the NMH community in the fall. 


JUNE 22, 2021 | joe latimer


NMH welcomes Joe Latimer as its new director of college counseling starting July 1. He comes to NMH from the University of Rochester, where he spent the last 15 years as assistant dean for enrollment diversity and outreach. He also served as undergraduate advisor to first- and second-year students, and advisor to the Puerto Rican Student Organization and Men’s Club Lacrosse. He brings 28 years of experience in college admissions at Hobart and William Smith Colleges, Northeastern University, and the University of Massachusetts Dartmouth. A native of Fitchburg, Massachusetts, and a first generation LatinX college student, Latimer says his admissions career has been committed to access, equity, and inclusion and that he believes in supporting the holistic development of students. 

What drew you to NMH?
As a college admissions officer, you learn about secondary schools across the country and abroad. I have known about NMH for quite some time, particularly its reputation for academic excellence and the richness of its cocurriculars. The many members of the NMH community I met convinced me — pretty easily — this is indeed a very special place. My wife and I did a driving tour through campus, and by the time we were headed home, we knew NMH was the perfect place for us. 

What motivates you to do this work?
I find great joy in sitting across from a student who tells you their dreams, hopes, aspirations, and fears. Thoughtful and compassionate advising and counseling is meant to guide students as they make important decisions about the present and future. It’s my hope that my counsel — and the counsel of my colleagues in the College Counseling Office — guides their choices at NMH and beyond. Developing trust between students and family members has always been the foundation on which I build relationships. I am most proud of the moments when parents have told me during move-in, “It’s comforting to drop my child off knowing you are here.” 

What are some of your priorities as you look to the fall?
I have always felt that college admissions, focused on high school juniors, seniors, and post graduates, forget about younger students. However, there’s valuable information younger students need to know as they navigate high school. For example, most, if not all, secondary school students hear from their peers, “Junior year is your most important year.” I want students to know that all years of high school are important. 

Often, students try to take on too much to impress colleges and universities. Students should make cocurricular choices based on their interests and curiosities. I hope to understand where there is capacity during the academic calendar to help younger students make decisions that lead to optimal wellness during high school and exciting outcomes as graduates. 

The Class of 2022 will arrive on campus eager to immerse themselves in their last year of high school. They will look to college counseling to help support their goals after graduation, and I want to learn as much as I can about NMH to understand areas of strength and areas for growth on behalf of our students. 

What lessons did you learn during the pandemic that you would like to carry forward?
I was reminded that college admissions officers and the schools they represent are compassionate and empathetic. We met students and families where they were: we made decisions based on pass/fail grades. We considered applicants with no standardized testing, whose cocurriculars and summer plans were canceled, and were part of families who were facing financial crises. My message to students was to feel confident that their candidacy will be contextualized by caring people, and to make sure they show care and concern for others. These are qualities that are increasingly important in college admissions, and at NMH, students have many outlets and opportunities to exhibit such behavior.

Can you describe how college counseling will support students this year? 
College counseling will provide lots and lots of accurate information and work to dispel misinformation. For example, some of my counselees, who are members of the Class of 2022, believe that if they don’t submit test scores, they’re hiding something (such as a low score), and that this will result in their candidacy being penalized. From my experience, no such calculation takes place — test-optional means test-optional. Having said this, if a student would rather engage in an activity that brings them more joy or helps develop their potential than practicing for the SAT/ACT, or taking the exam, I believe they should engage in that activity.

Are you going to serve in any additional roles at NMH? 
My wife Megan (who will be joining NMH as Alumni and Parent Programs Manager in the Advancement Office) and I love the idea of living in MacKinnon and being involved in the lives of those who reside there. In addition, supporting athletic events, volunteering for lacrosse teams, and serving as an ally/advisor to LGBTQ, low-income, first generation, and underrepresented students remain important to me. 

What are your personal passions, hobbies, and interests?
My wife and I cherish being around family — my parents, my sister and her family, and my oldest daughter and her children live in Leominster, Massachusetts — and we love spending time at our other home in Guánica, Puerto Rico. We enjoy going to concerts (indie rock is our favorite genre) and attending sporting events — born in the Bronx, I’m a Yankees fan but love the New England Patriots! I enjoy playing lacrosse every chance I get, and I’ll be searching for adult leagues in the area. And we seek recommendations for destinations near campus, Northampton, Providence, Newport, Vermont, New Hampshire, and Montreal. High on the list, once the academic year begins, is competing in the annual Pie Race!




Angelita Castañon, who previously served as an NMH associate dean of students, will begin her role as NMH’s new dean of students on July 1. She returns to NMH after a two-year stint as dean of students at Cranbrook-Kingswood Upper School in Bloomfield Hills, Michigan. Before that, she spent seven years as an associate dean of students at NMH, and one year as interim dean of students. She has held several other roles at NMH including Spanish teacher, class advisor, and student advisor. She began working with NMH in 2002 through the Upward Bound Summer Academy. 

What drew you to NMH? 
I was drawn to NMH because of its mission to educate the head, heart, and hand. Starting with my time with Upward Bound, I saw that the faculty were ambassadors of this mission — they lived it out in their daily work with students. So, when the opportunity arose, I jumped at the chance to join a community that embraces the potential of the whole child. 

In many ways, NMH has been home for most of my adult life. With every position I held, I was welcomed, my talents were nurtured, and I was supported to grow as an educator. Now, I have the opportunity to give back during a time when we want to innovate and elevate programs — not just for the students but with them.

What are your priorities? How will you enhance residential life programs and foster community building? 
We’ve all lived through a challenging 18 months. Its impacts will be felt even as we “return to normal.” What we needed was physical distance from others, and the use of “social distancing” resulted in physical separation, but in many cases, social disconnection. My priority is to focus on re-establishing what it means to be in community with one another. How do we live, work, and play together? How do we show up for one another and embrace a common purpose to care for others just as much as we care for ourselves? To realize this, I hope to spend time with our students, our faculty, and our staff to identify and create opportunities to come together that are reflective of the needs of all. 

What motivates you to do this work?
Working with teenagers, and specifically in a boarding community, is something I love dearly. Adolescence is all about growth and change, as students engage in experiences that will help shape who they become. Key to this growth is the ability to authentically belong. With belonging comes safety and with safety comes the ability to take risks, to make mistakes, and to fail — sometimes spectacularly — thus allowing for reflection and learning. I thrive on creating a community with my students and my colleagues that emphasizes belonging and that allows students to grow from their mistakes rather than be labeled by them. I also thrive on creating a community that allows us to have fun, too.

How will NMH support students this coming school year?
NMH has a long history of supporting students. As we go into this new school year, we will continue to focus on building authentic relationships through advisory and bonding as a community through dorm programs, weekend activities, and other student-centered interactions. And we will continue to make space for student voices — support has to include the people for whom the supports are created.

How can supporting students now help them in the long run? 
Our students are amazing individuals and, in many ways, are mature beyond their years. Sometimes though, we can forget that they are still adolescents. Critical to supporting students is reminding them that it is natural to struggle and that is not the end of the world. In moments of struggle, we need to know how to reach out for help because help is always within reach. This is a life skill that will support students in life, not just in academics.

What lessons did you learn from your work this past year?
At various points throughout this pandemic, we were functioning in survival mode, which meant that the ability to slow down was not always present. As I reflect now, I am reminded of several truths. We all want to do our jobs to the best of our ability. We all want to live in a community that is respectful, supportive, empathetic, safe, and fun. We all want to be seen, heard, and valued. My job is to support these truths in all aspects of my work with faculty, students, and families. This year, I would like to commit to re-establishing not just communication, but conversation.

How does social-emotional wellness show up in your life?
Being a dean is very rewarding because we get to help students grow through some of their most vulnerable moments. Oftentimes, this means that we are navigating through complex emotions with families. Because we care so much, the weight of this work can be heavy so it is really important for us to take care of ourselves, too. Finding balance and having fun with students — helping them to see me as more than just the dean — is key to my social-emotional wellness. I also work really hard to remind myself that self-care isn’t selfish, it’s necessary.

What are your passions, hobbies, or interests outside of work?
I grew up on Lake Michigan so for me, spending time on the water is one of the most restorative things I can do for myself. Other than that, I love to gather with friends or family. Feeding people brings me joy so cooking is something I do often. When I can, I combine these two passions with travel and have been blessed to have visited many places throughout the world.

Are you going to serve in any additional roles at NMH?
As an associate dean, I was able to teach and serve as a faculty advisor to our affinity group for domestic Latinx students. I hope to be able to re-engage with one or both of these roles if my responsibilities allow.

Is there anything else you’d like to share?
NMH is a really special community. Having spent time away, I can say with full authority that the people — students, faculty and staff — are what make it so. I am thrilled to be coming home and can’t wait to welcome new students and families in August! 


Sept. 3, 2020 | Debby Ghezzi P’23

NMH Athletic Director Debby Ghezzi recently joined NMH as our new athletic director. A long-time educator, athletics administrator, successful coach of several sports, and a one-time Division III athlete, she has served as athletic director at Lake Ridge Academy and Beaumont High School, both in Ohio. At the collegiate level, she has served as director of athletic facilities at Case Western Reserve University, director of athletics at Notre Dame College, head tennis coach at Lamar University in Texas, assistant women’s basketball coach and recruiting coordinator at Colgate University, and assistant athletic director at Mount Holyoke College. 

What are you most excited about this year?
Meeting the student athletes and watching them perfect their craft. I enjoy going out to practices and seeing the improvements that occur with each athlete as the season progresses.
How will athletics be different this year?
Our biggest challenge this year is the COVID hurdle, and yet, at the same time, it’s one of our most exciting challenges. In the early part of the school year, we will not be participating in any early competitions. Our athletes will have the opportunity to focus on skill development, strength, conditioning, and tactical training. Often, aspects of this get overlooked when there is constant game preparation. After a few weeks, we will begin intrasquad scrimmages. Our teams are strong top to bottom, so these scrimmages will be competitive and fun to watch. As the fall progresses, and assuming all things remain as safe as possible on campus, we may be able to assess whether controlled contests can be arranged with several schools that have shared our diligent safety protocols. That's a longshot right now, of course, so our focus remains on strengthening NMH teams here on campus.
What initiatives are you working on to support student athletes? 
In addition to running an athletic program known for its excellent coaches, trainers, and strength and conditioning folks, the athletic department will also be working with our student athletes on dealing with anxiety and stress, and improving and maintaining their overall mental health and wellness. We’ll work with coaches to bring in speakers to talk with our athletes, and we’ll create special programming in this area. The department will also be working to create a social justice curriculum that teams will move through as the year progresses. We’ll meet in both small and large groups to exchange ideas and be in dialogue.
What makes a good team? What makes a good athlete? 
A good team is one where the players and coaches are on the same page. They set the goals and visions for the season together and there is total buy-in. Team leaders evolve and work alongside the coaches to create a positive, winning culture. Communication is important as individual roles are developed and accepted.
What are your favorite sports or hobbies? 
I am an avid golfer, albeit not a good one! I enjoy reading books on leadership, and also a good mystery.
What do you most want the NMH community to know about you?
I am passionate about athletics and working with the coaches and campus community to provide the best possible experience for every student-athlete.


Aug. 21, 2020 | Grant Gonzalez

Grant Gonzalez serves in many roles at NMH. He’s the assistant dean of faculty and teaches the Rhodes Fellowship Course in Social Entrepreneurship. He’s also head coach of the boys’ varsity cross-country team and assistant coach in the track and field program. As NMH made a quick transition to remote learning last spring and prepared for the coming school year, Gonzalez took on a new role as director of the NMH Lab Program, the remote learning option for students who are unable to be on campus. While not exclusive to international students, the program is designed to meet the scheduling needs of most of NMH’s international students.

How did NMH develop the Lab Program?
In the spring, we were already thinking about the next school year. We heard from families and students that NMH did a good job of shifting quickly to remote learning in March, so we wanted to take what we did well and build on that.

How does the Lab Program differ from last spring? What lessons did you apply to the program?
We were on the lookout for ways we could improve remote learning. We surveyed families, students, and teachers, and their feedback helped us build a robust Lab Program.

We heard a desire for more class time; we slightly increased that for the Lab Program, but purposely kept it lower than on-campus classes to take into account screen fatigue. We also wanted to ensure that the times fit the schedules of most of our students so they could attend sessions live.

We heard that students wanted more opportunities to engage with each other beyond the classroom. We also heard the need for more emphasis on relationship-building and social and emotional learning. The Lab Program includes all of those components. We added time for athletics, cocurriculars, DSJ, health, SLS, and affinity groups — all really important elements to inject into a remote-learning experience. 

Families and students really liked the academic support we provided during the spring and thought it translated well to remote education. Extra-help sessions, CASA coaching, and library resources and support are some of the support tools we are providing Lab students.

Who are the students in the Lab Program?
There are 130 students starting the school year in the Lab Program, and most of them are international students who aren’t able to make it to campus due to COVID-19-related travel restrictions. Our Lab students come from all over the world — Asia, Europe, Africa, and North and South America. 

While they all have the option of staying in the Lab Program for the entire school year, every student and family has said they hope to return to campus at some point this year. And, we’ve set it up so they can do just that. Students can transition seamlessly from the Lab Program to an on-campus experience, or vice versa, during any marking period throughout the school year. 

Many schools are offering some kind of remote learning option this fall. What makes the NMH Lab Program unique?
This program isn’t a hybrid model. We're trying to avoid students feeling left behind with a program that is designed just for them. This is a robust program that is designed to offer multiple ways for these students to access NMH and be part of the NMH community to which they belong. 

What are you most excited about?
I’m really excited that we’ve created a program for NMH students that meets them where they are, wherever they are in the world. While we are not trying to replace the on-campus experience, we are bringing as much of the NMH experience as possible to these students. We’ve built in ways for them to join their friends and peers, to meet new students, to have support from and connections with their faculty while they learn remotely until they can come to campus. We’ve done a lot of planning, and I’m really excited to see these students start the school year and get the wheels in motion.

How have you personally prepared for a very different school year? 
It’s important to maintain our own personal wellness routines. I go running every day. I make time to be outside and be with my family, and I set aside time to do things outside of work so that I can stay grounded and refueled.

Aug. 13, 2020 | Dr. Sara Rourke ’94, P’23 

As NMH’s director of medicine, Dr. Sara Rourke has helped create the school’s health and safety plan for the 2020–21 academic year. But she’s also the parent of an NMH 10th-grader and the spouse of an NMH faculty member, not to mention an alum. Beyond all the medical measures that are now in place, how is she thinking about the coming school year?

You’ve been talking with lots of parents. What are you telling them?
Parents are really just looking for reassurance. The decision to send your child to school right now, whether it is NMH or a community public school, is a stressful one. We want to ensure that we are providing all of the information that students and their families need, whether they’re a boarding-student family or a day-student family. When they hear the details about what we’re doing, whether it’s about dorm set-up, quarantine, or health center services, they can see that we are putting their kids at the center of all our decisions.  

What did you learn in medical school that prepared you for this pandemic?
I’m a family practice doctor, so the training in how to communicate with people, making sure you think about the whole picture — that probably has helped me more than anything. I’m getting up in front of large groups of people on Zoom, balancing a lot of intense medical information with the need to convey it in a way that doesn’t overwhelm people. I want to make sure people see that we really are trying to make the safest, best choices for students and the entire community. 

Many people are looking to you for support. Who do you look to?
I’ve gotten together with an incredible group of doctors who work at New England prep schools. We have at least one Zoom call a week, and there’s probably five email threads that get started every single day. We are all answering the same questions, even though we tweak things differently according to our own school culture. 

As the school’s doctor and as a parent, what are you worried about and what are you not worried about?
I’m worried about the adjustment. For everyone: myself, health center staff, teachers, kids, custodial staff, dining hall staff. None of us have done this yet. We’re all going to have moments when we are struggling. That’s why it’s so important to remember to be kind and supportive to each other, to be able to pitch in and do things differently, things that maybe we didn’t have to do before. 

What I’m not worried about is having a big outbreak on campus. It’s one of the major lessons that I’ve learned as I’ve watched the pandemic unfold domestically and internationally. We are bound to get a case of coronavirus at NMH, but we can be absolutely aggressive in making sure we don’t allow it to spread. 

At the beginning of the pandemic, you talked to students frequently about self-care and life balance. How have you been maintaining your own balance?
I’ve been exercising a lot more. And I have three dogs, three goats, and a horse. I start my day doing horse and goat chores and walking the dogs. It’s very grounding. They don’t know that we’re in the middle of a pandemic. They just know that I take them for walks and feed them and love them a lot. And they give it right back to me. 

July 30, 2020 | Kristen Peterson

Kristen H. Peterson has joined NMH as its first dean of student life programs, overseeing social and emotional learning initiatives, as well as advising, student-leadership training, and health education. Previously, she was dean of students at Stoneleigh-Burnham School in nearby Greenfield for five years. She has also served at Suffield Academy, Miss Porter’s School, and Mercersburg Academy as a health, wellness, and leadership instructor; coach; athletic director; admissions counselor; and alumni relations director. A graduate of Trinity College, she is completing a master’s in liberal studies at Dartmouth College, focusing on the effects of technology on adolescent development and well-being. She shared a few thoughts as she prepared to move to campus with her husband, Jon, and their two children.

What drew you to NMH?
NMH would have been the best fit for me as a student, with its rigorous yet balanced academic program, competitive athletics, diverse student body, and the farm! Franklin County, with its natural beauty, is my home. I’ve traveled to many places and have never felt more connected to a place. At NMH, I can blend and share my passion for supporting adolescent development and well-being in a place that already feels like home. 

What motivates you to do this work?
I attended a small independent boarding school in Connecticut. Before that, I had low self-esteem, lacked confidence, and struggled to find my place in the world. The nature and structure of boarding school helped me grow in transformative ways. Small class sizes allowed me to develop meaningful relationships with teachers, and I was able to become a confident scholar and a talented athlete. 

I was also able to identify what was missing, such as strong female role models, support around health and well-being, and a community whose values of kindness and compassion mirrored my own. After college, I took an internship at a boarding school, and since then, I’ve made it my life’s work to support students through what I believe to be one of the hardest, most important times of their lives. 

Can you describe how NMH will support students during a very different fall?
We have to shift some of the ways we are living right now, but we can do that and still have meaningful experiences that feed our souls and brains. Students feel best when they are known and loved. Our work is to support them in maintaining their important friendships and connections to adults while also maintaining a healthy campus and community.

We’ve created a group of adults on campus who represent athletics, health and wellness, counseling, the dean of students’ office, equity and social justice, and global engagement — and we meet each week to talk about holistic student wellness. We want to hear from students and adults about what needs attention and focus. Our work is ever-changing and informed by overall student well-being.

How can supporting students now help them in the long run? 
During my first year as an advisor, a 9th-grade student came to me to share that she had been recently diagnosed with depression and might need to check in with me if she was having a difficult day. We were just getting to know each other, and I was surprised she shared something so personal. This was also back in 2005 when depression was not as widely talked about as it is now. I was struck not only by her bravery, but also by how aware she was of her own needs and her ability to advocate for herself. I served as her advisor for four years and we’ve remained connected. She went on to earn her master’s in social work from Smith College and is now a clinical social worker at an AIDS care facility and is pursuing a women’s leadership fellowship to engage in the legislative world at the state and federal levels. This story shows how connecting with at least one adult during difficult moments can help anchor a student and make them feel safe, known, and loved. 

How does social-emotional wellness show up in your life? 
When I’m at work, I love connecting with students and colleagues, but I’m a secret introvert. I love being home with my family. I also love running and being outdoors. Last year, we built a large garden with raised beds that we visit every day to see what’s changing, what needs care — our summer garden has become part of our family’s heartbeat.