Three years of political turmoil, a global pandemic, and an explosion of social media influence have greatly affected young people nationwide. Terry St. Laurent, Notre Dame Preparatory School’s Director of School Counseling, recognized that NDP students were not immune to these influences and sought to proactively address the issue for the wellness of the entire community.
St. Laurent’s 30+ years of experience as a counselor allowed her to identify challenges for students that had not presented themselves before. “Wavering confidence, increasing anxiety, and lack of coping strategies were a few of the areas in which girls have been struggling,” says St. Laurent. Encouraged by school administrators, St. Laurent expanded her department to include a Wellness Specialist position. Now, with the hiring of Elizabeth Piper, it is believed that Notre Dame Prep is the only private school in the area with a designated on-campus Wellness Specialist.
With 10 years of wellness experience as a professional speaker and motivator, Piper brings a young, vibrant energy to the position and a passion for helping women realize their own inherent self-worth. Different from the traditional counseling, wellness is focused on being proactive, not reactive. Piper teaches girls how to identify and direct their thoughts, how to manage and validate their emotions, and most importantly, how to use self-awareness as a tool to solve everyday challenges. “This understanding of self builds a solid foundation of self-worthiness and confidence. When the students feel empowered to meet the small challenges, the larger challenges are far less intimidating,” explains Piper.
In addition to emotional understanding, wellness is a key component to fostering female leadership. “When girls are nurtured in their mental and emotional wellness, they grow into empowered, confident women,” says Piper.
Piper is a passionate believer in breaking down limiting beliefs and encourages a growth mindset, a belief that even if you struggle with certain skills, your abilities are not finite, that with work your skills can and will improve. A shift to the growth mindset teaches NDP girls to acknowledge their accomplishments, plan for improvement, and look forward to the next level of challenge without fear of failure or embarrassment.
At Notre Dame Prep, wellness is not taught in one presentation but through practice and application throughout the NDP experience. Intimate discussions, workshops, and various exercises are scheduled at each grade level and take place throughout the school year, including scheduled Wellness Days. As the next generation of young women come into the world, Notre Dame Prep girls will have the additional self-assurance, resilience, and fortitude to transform the world.