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Best of the Week 2019-2020: Teaching to the Future


This month, St. Ed's is providing students with engaging, hands-on opportunities to dive into topics such as mental health and masculinity to commemorate Men's Health Awareness Month. St. Ed's Department of Student Life has developed four immersive and instructive workshops for students to gain a better understanding of themselves and their peers as men in our world.

"When we chose not to participate in 'No Shave November' this year, a group of students were inspired to come up with a new way to raise awareness about men's health while also providing an effective means to help students become better young men," says Director of Student Life and Leadership Mr. Matt Wallenhorst '05. "A small group of students have met with me over the past two months to come up with this plan to achieve their goal. Our hope is that students will walk away with a better understanding of their own manhood while also having a toolbox of different conversation points, methods and relationships with one another as they mature."

Providing a safe space for students to ask questions and confirm their feelings, the workshops offered this month will cover "Traits of Positive Manhood," "Better Mental Health and Coping with Stress/Anxiety," and "Typical Male Illness Prevention." On Thursday, students, along with Mr. Wallenhorst, Principal KC McKenna '00, Dean of Students Mr. Mark Urban and Social Studies teacher Mr. William Van Why '13, gathered to participate in the first workshop entitled, "Defining Masculinity." Participants listened as their mentors shared what masculinity means to them and reflected on how they can turn to the Seven Standards of an Edsman as reminders for how to not only model masculinity, but also how to understand their emotional intelligence. Additionally, participants were asked to reflect on what it means to be a "real" man versus a "good" man. Some answers shared among participants labeled a "real" man as tough, dominant, protective, and emotionless whereas others felt that a "real" man is someone who is loving, trustworthy, brave and a leader. Participants discussed how they feel society views what a "real" man should be and collaboratively agreed that "good" men are honest, understanding, supportive, good listeners, respectful, humble and dependable. "There are a lot of things that come up during adolescence that some students might feel too embarrassed to bring up or might wonder if they're the only ones who think that way," says Mr. Wallenhorst. "Our committee felt that these workshop topics needed to be relevant to our students and provide them with a space to learn from one another's experiences and perspectives. I think our society has changed and we've become more beholden to things like social media and the pressures that have dialed up socially on everyone. There aren't enough real outlets for teens to come together and voice their feelings on their challenges in a collaborative way. These workshops will provide them with the chance to hit the 'pause' button on their lives and learn more about themselves."

The students who have been serving on the workshop development committee with Mr. Wallenhorst have helped shape and form what they want their peers to gain from these experiences. Students have tapped into their leadership capabilities and have taken ownership of this opportunity to gain practical knowledge while feeling connected to their work in a personal way. "Our Edsmen need to be prepared for the world outside of St. Ed's," says Mr. Wallenhorst. "Right now, they have a lot of confusion about what it means to be a man and act appropriately in many facets of life. Our committee came to a conclusion that this programming opportunity serves a need so students can form a better understanding on how to discuss their emotions, show their vulnerability and deal with common feelings like stress and anxiety. We want to give our Edsmen an opportunity at an early age to help them mature and better understand themselves and the men around them."

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