Student Life

Social Emotional Learning

A St. Andrew’s student puts others’ needs before their own, takes responsibility for their actions, and acts with compassion and empathy in everything they do.
The growth of life skills like self-advocacy, responsibility, and cooperation is supported by our robust Social Emotional Learning program, headed up by our full-time Director of Social Emotional Learning Scott Zimmerman. The program is one of the many things that makes St. Andrew’s unique -- it builds our authentic community by encouraging moral citizenship through self-awareness, healthy relationships, and compassionate action.

List of 3 items.

  • Lower School

    The SEL program in the Lower School is adapted from the Responsive Classroom’s CARES program. St. Andrew’s faculty and students emphasize, practice, and assess growth in each of the core value areas of Cooperation, Assertion, Responsibility, Empathy, and Self-Control. Our teachers are trained in Responsive Classroom strategies, techniques, and daily routines and faculty also uses a shared resource library, developed and grown by each grade level team and department.
  • Middle School

    As students move to the Middle School, they take more ownership in contributing to our community. Leadership opportunities are opened up in advisory, chapel, community service, the house system, the cabinet system, and more. Students learn that leading “from the middle” -- showing good moral citizenship during everyday community interactions -- has just as positive an impact as the actions of those leading “from the front.”
  • Upper School

    Upper School sees our students maturing and developing more self-awareness. With that, we put a great emphasis on service to the community. In order to serve oneself, one another, and the larger community, young people need skills like stress management, decision-making, time management, advocacy, and gratitude, which we cultivate through student-led advisory activities and discussions. Moving through high school, students are asked to reflect on the question: “How can I serve my peers and the greater community with my talents and skills?” They are able to develop these relational skills with myriad community service, mentoring, and leadership opportunities available in high school. From a variety of student councils to junior and senior groups that mentor our younger Highlanders on both the Middle and Upper School campuses, students are able to fulfill their potential and take advantage of all that St. Andrew’s has to offer.

Mindfulness Education

Our Mindfulness program provides students, faculty, and parents with comprehensive, age-appropriate trainings. Research demonstrates that mindfulness education improves attention, emotional regulation, working memory, academic performance, pro-social behavior, and self-compassion, while reducing stress, anxiety, and fatigue.

Our mindfulness director works with our school community inside and outside the classroom. Read more about how mindfulness is taught at St. Andrew's below, and contact Adam Ortman with any questions.

How It Helps

List of 4 items.

  • Faculty & Parents

    Faculty
    Through division-wide trainings, optional courses, and weekly guided practice, faculty have the opportunity to learn and cultivate a mindful presence they can bring into the classroom.

    Parents
    St. Andrew’s offers parents the opportunity to take a free eight-week mindfulness course, exploring the basic foundations of the practice to support their own well-being, while also learning the skills their children are developing in school.
  • Lower School

    • Social and Emotional Learning instruction includes mindfulness practices to help students learn effective methods for self-regulation, self-awareness, and kindness toward others.
    • Outdoor education includes mindfulness practices for connecting with the natural world.
    • Students learn practices to support focus in reading and writing.
    Lower School students say:
    “It helps me stay calm when I am frustrated or sad.”
    “At chess tournaments, I use mindful breathing to not feel so stressed.”
    “If I had something in my day and I needed a new start it helps me clear my mind.”
  • Middle School

    • Students in Science class learn mindfulness practices while exploring how they affect their brain and nervous system.
    • As they learn about bias and human group formation in Social Studies class, students learn mindfulness practices to encourage a sense of social connectedness and increase positive emotions.
    • In advisory, students learn mindfulness practices to help with test anxiety and focus.
    Middle School students say:
    “It helps in particular with situations when I deal with pressure.”
    “Mindfulness helps me to sleep and helps me to not be stressed out.”
    “It helps me with calming my body when I have a lot of unwanted energy.”
  • Upper School

    • Freshmen receive eight weeks of mindfulness instruction to learn how to deal effectively with stress, difficult emotions, and the world of thoughts.
    • Interested students join ‘Mindfulness Club’ to practice together every week.
    • Students in Religious Studies courses explore the relationship between modern mindfulness practices and contemplative practices of world religions. One course culminates in a 'silent retreat' day during finals week.
    Upper School students say:
    “It helps me focus on whatever I am doing a lot more than before.”
    “It has helped me be alone with who I truly am and to accept what I find inside of me.”
    “When I am taking tests, about to give a speech, or facing an insane amount of homework, I feel like I can notice my current emotions without letting them consume me.”

Meet the Team

List of 2 members.

  • Photo of Adam Ortman

    Adam Ortman 

    Mindfulness Director
    512-299-9711
  • Photo of Scott Zimmerman

    Scott Zimmerman   

    Director of Social and Emotional Learning
    512-299-9842