School Days

People have been asking me how school has been going, so I’ll give a quick snapshot.  For the most part, things are settling down and the job feels very familiar.  I’m having lots of one-on-one meetings with seniors, both to get to know them and to talk about colleges.  I read and edit colleges essays, I answer parent emails, I worry that I’m behind on writing my recommendation letters (that would be an understatement, since I haven’t started yet).  These are rhythms and conversations that I know.

Then there are new territories, which I have been exploring (or unceremoniously dumped into) on an almost daily basis.  For example, this morning I gave a presentation to thirty-five parents of juniors who have just started at SAS this fall, coming here from all over the world.  I have never worked with this many kids in transition, especially this late in high school. And these kids are looking at colleges in places about which I have little to no knowledge, like South Africa and Korea and Australia.  Fortunately, I have a great team of colleagues who have lived all over the place. Then there’s the fact that we’re still working in a “comprehensive” counseling model, which means that I’m a social-emotional counselor as well as a college counselor (that will change next year).  So in the past week I have dealt with issues regarding bullying, terrible homesickness, and self-harm.  Again, I’m thankful to have colleagues to turn with questions about these matters, because while I’m not exactly new to kids bringing me their concerns, I haven’t always dealt with them at this level.

Then there are the surprises.  The faculty have lots and lots of small group meetings, far more than I expected.  There are a lot of three-letter acronyms (PLCs, SBG, PGE).  And as a whole, the culture of the school is not as welcoming as I had been told international schools usually are (apparently, SAS is widely known on the international circuit for being a little unfriendly).

The nicest surprise is that five kids started a Mock Trial club this year!  And I cheerfully signed on to help out.  It will be entirely different from Mock Trial at Park — there are no competitions in Singapore, we’re not technically a “team” at this point, and we only meet for one hour a week (that last point alone is nearly impossible for me to wrap my head around).  But we had thirty-five interested kids at our first substantive meeting yesterday, who appeared to enjoy the first round of activities.  And I had a blast!

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