A Roadmap to Personal Passion

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The final post in our five-part series of blog posts from Academic Dean Rebecca Redlon discussing the New Academic Vision at The Maine Girls’ Academy.

Mercy Matters: A Roadmap to Personal Passion

One of the greatest gifts we can give our students is control over their learning.  We begin preparing students for this during their first year, when we talk about growth versus fixed mindsets.  Students need to know that they are responsible for much of what they learn.  Teachers provide students with skill and opportunity — the rest is up to the students themselves.  

Because we want students to be active rather than passive learners, it is imperative that we give them the opportunity to reflect on their process.  This metacognition is built into the Mercy Matters Program through each year’s “theme” which can relate to any class a student is taking at the time.  During the first year, students are encouraged to reflect on who they are — as learners, as human beings — and what they might like to become.  Many assignments and projects in their first-year classes lend themselves to reflecting on these aspects.  Over the course of the sophomore year, students expanding their sense of self by trying new things.  Students are encouraged to take risks, solve problems, and think about themselves and the world around them in new ways. In the junior year, we ask the girls to think about their relationship to their community and to the global world; they apply problem-solving to self-selected social justice issues, thus further expanding their understanding of self.  Finally, in their senior year, the theme is personal passion.  Students select courses that pertain to their particular area of interest, and we work hard to accommodate those students with special requests. During this capstone year, students reflect on the kinds of learning opportunities they have been given and those they have chosen.  The goal is for students to select a topic about which they are passionate and to explore it in greater detail, using all of the academic and related soft skills they have been developing throughout their high school career.  

One of MGA’s greatest strengths is its flexibility in relationship to student needs. It is our belief that students invest more in their education when they have greater choice.  Our new Transcript Designation policy, which we hope to put into effect next year, will allow students to receive commendation for pursuing areas of interest that the school identifies as integral to a girl’s education but that a student pursues beyond the walls of MGA.  Students who complete a certain number of hours outside of school along with a core set of courses, will receive a special designation on their transcripts and recognition at their senior Baccalaureate awards ceremony.  Students will have the opportunity to pursue special designations in the following areas: Leadership & Global Citizenship, STEM, and the Fine Arts.  

I hope you have enjoyed the Mercy Matters blog post series; if you have any questions, comments, or suggestions please don’t hesitate to contact me.  Happy Spring!

by Rebecca Redlon, Academic Dean

Past posts in this series:

Learn more and experience Mercy Matters for yourself by visiting the school or scheduling a shadow day. Contact us today.