On a perfect fall afternoon, I found myself in a room full of women who were astonishingly authentic, unapologetically themselves, and unconditionally joyful. It was the Golden Graduates luncheon attended by more than 115 alumnae from the classes of 1947 through 1968. The senior class president of the class of 1968 began her speech with, “ St. Mary's Academy gave us the confidence to find our voice.” Boom. Right out of the gates, she nailed the essence of the educational experience at our High School – building unshakable confidence to find one’s voice. A culture of confidence is fostered as we encourage our students to:
- BE PERFECTLY IMPERFECT - Brilliant blunders, epic fails, and glorious imperfections are the cornerstones of confidence. Aiming for perfection is an unrealistic goal and erodes self-esteem. It is completely different from the healthy pursuit of excellence. When students identify themselves as perfectionists, my standard response is, “Don’t worry, there is a cure!” Creating a safe space to fail and to be real is the cure and that’s what we do best at the High School.
- BE BOLD - Girls’ schools empower girls to be brave enough to listen to their hearts, bold enough to find their voice, and strong enough to speak their truth. Being bold, daring greatly, and taking risks is essential to building self-esteem and confidence. Risk-taking and resilience are actively promoted in the High School and help our students get a stronger sense of self as they form their own identities.
- BE AUTHENTIC – Trying to pretend to be someone else is exhausting. Being your authentic self leads to self-assurance. The culture of our High School encourages our girls to be completely comfortable in their own skins. In Maya Angelou’s words, “Nothing can dim the light that shines from within.” Our students are empowered to be fearless of judgment even if being authentic means going against the norm. They know that that they should show up as themselves. Always.
Confidence is a practice. Confidence comes in all shapes and sizes. At St. Mary's Academy High School, confidence is contagious!