Head of School Blog
Susan Tyree Dempf, Ph.D.

Growing into Wise Freedom

Dear Academy families and friends,

As we turn our attention today to Goal V  Schools of the Sacred Heart commit themselves to educate to personal growth in an atmosphere of wise freedom — these Criteria offer insight into ‘the why’ behind some of the practices supported at the Academy. Janet Erskine Stuart, RSCJ wisely offered the following:

There are two ways of educating: one, to give heart, mind, energy, everything to working for the children  doing things for them. The other, to try to teach the children to work for themselves. And this is the higher of the two. It requires more prudence, more foresight and there is less immediate return. We ought not to do things for the children which they ought to learn to do for themselves. We want to make them independent of us.

To this end, students and educators of the Sacred Heart “grow in courage and confidence as they discover new abilities, cultivate strengths, learn from mistakes, develop empathy and exercise resilience in meeting challenges.” Through trial and error, the scientist grows in understanding and the body of knowledge is advanced in their field of study. This is true for growing up as well! Life does not always present the perfect situations, children must learn to navigate the journey — a journey complete with mountains to climb and rivers to cross. “Initiative, creativity and agility” are essential skills that will be central to successful navigation of life.

The COVID-19 pandemic called for increasing reliance on technology as a primary mode of communication. The Criteria within Goal V call us to support the development of “safe, ethical and responsible use of technology.” So, too, it prompts us to “model and teach respectful dialogue in support of clear, direct, open communication.” The lessons learned in these areas will serve students well into their adult lives as technology continues to evolve and bring people and ideas together.

Yet another call to action brought forward under Goal V is an understanding of life balance. The pressures of adolescence are growing each year; this is brought on in part by the challenges faced in our communities and world. It is a privilege to listen to the prayers of our Academy students. They ask God for the protection of animals. They thank God for clean water. They recognize the needs of the homeless as the weather turns cold and seek ways to support these persons. These prayers are beautiful and bring much hope for the future. They also indicate that youngsters are not growing up in stress-free times.

The support of “a school culture that promotes spiritual, intellectual, physical and social-emotional well-being” is needed now more than ever. Teaching children and supporting the adult members of our community to model health and balance is a means of teaching strategies to support life-long wellness. So, too, does recognizing the needs of self and others support the development of transformative leaders.

For many, Goal V “Personal growth in an atmosphere of wise freedom” is their favorite Goal. It allows each of us to strive, to stumble and to try again. It teaches ‘grit’ and perseverance . . . and in this home of St. Rose Philippine Duchesne, whose feast we will celebrate on November 18, perhaps she serves yet again as our best inspiration.

United in mission,

Dr. Susan Dempf
Head of School