Head of School Update

By Patricia Swenson
Head of School

As the year of Caring for our Community continues, I’d like to provide an update on an important initiative that Duchesne is undertaking. As I previously announced, Duchesne is partnering with Challenge Success, a program out of Stanford University that helps schools create more balanced and academically fulfilling lives for their students.

In February, Denise Pope, one of the founders of Challenge Success, visited with our faculty, students, and parents to discuss the “Well-Balanced Student.” She shared current research along with practical strategies for our families to support their child’s health, resilience, and engagement in learning. Later in the spring, all Upper School parents and Upper School students were invited to take a survey about their experience at Duchesne and what challenges they face with school-life balance. The results from the surveys were then analyzed by the team at Challenge Success and found to be encouraging. They have provided a starting point for assessing and addressing the primary concerns as perceived by our community.

To continue our initiative, an initial working group comprised of administrators, faculty, parents, and students was assembled and is leading this important project. The members of the Challenge Success working group are as follows:

  • Patricia Swenson, Head of School
  • Tony Houle, Head of Admissions and Strategic Imperatives
  • Don Cramp, Head of Upper School
  • Alye Inman, Upper School Dean of Students
  • Alex Ferretti, Upper School Faculty and English Department Chair
  • Alaina Scorsone, Upper School Faculty and Academic Advisor
  • Liza Rivera, 6th and 11th Grade Parent
  • Melonie Dutton-Lewis, 8th Grade Parent
  • Kristen Huggins, 10th Grade Student
  • Isabella Zamora, 10th Grade Student

Several weeks ago, the entire working group traveled to Boston to participate in a Challenge Success conference with 18 other schools from around the U.S. The working group met with Jen Cote, our liaison to Challenge Success, and began to refine topics that may be our focus for the year. Some of the key topics include student workload, student engagement, student stressors, and college admissions. An example of resources we have received from Challenge Success include the white paper  “Fit Over Rankings: Why College Engagement Matters More Than Selectivity“ and its accompanying video.

The working group is encouraged that Duchesne is in a good place regarding the health and wellness of our students and the balance of our academic program. We are also mindful that there is still work to be done in order to reduce stress and anxiety and improve the overall wellbeing of our students. 

Jen Cote will join us on November 5 at 6:30 p.m. in the Burguières Chapel to lead a student discussion about the Upper School experience. I invite all Duchesne parents to attend this event which will provide a unique opportunity to hear directly from the students as they discuss the challenges they face. The success of our initiative will rely on the partnership with our students, faculty, and parents, and I look forward to continued communications regarding our progress in this endeavor.

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