An Independent School • Grades 5-12

by Betty Benson, Upper School assistant director

One of the powerful experiences of being an educator is knowing that students see a pathway for themselves in your own life. At a critical time in their lives, young people look to their teachers, coaches, advisors, parents/guardians and other adults to discover ways they can exist in the world. It’s the reason why I became a teacher: to model for students that you could identify as female, as an elite athlete, a chemist, and as someone who loves working with people. 

Part of the practice of being a role model is regularly reflecting on how our individual journeys have led to this moment in time. Reflection is a powerful tool that can help us tap into the fabric of humanity to build empathy, respect, and consideration for others — an integral part of Lakeside’s community expectations. Honest reflection builds empathy — the capacity to understand others’ emotions, thoughts, and experiences and to use that understanding to inform our behavior. It’s something we ask all of our students and teachers to do, because it highlights how we are all interconnected. They are both part of the introspection and emotional intelligence competency of the re-envisioning.

That realization of interconnectedness can be powerful. It happened to me, recently, at the People of Color Conference hosted by the National Association of Independent Schools. And it happens to students, when we ask them to reflect during meetings with their advisors about grades and comments, or at the end of a sports season, or every single day during a GSL or outdoor trip.

As adults, we can share pieces of our stories and lives to help our young people see a pathway, even during times when they feel overwhelmed and filled with emotion — a pretty regular part of being a teenager! This act of sharing one’s story takes courage and vulnerability. But when we proceed with purpose and intentionality, the benefits can be huge. The more different people seem on the surface, the more powerful the experience of seeing one’s pathway reflected in someone else’s life.

As we continue into 2020, my colleagues and I invite you to join us in modeling reflection for our students and to give them opportunities to reflect on their own paths as they chart their course toward their futures.

Important February dates and events

February is a short month, but full of important (and fun) things. Keep an eye out for emails about GSL trips, and check out the online calendar for events hosted by college counseling and the PGA (including a suicide prevention training for parents and guardians), as well as the arts and athletics calendars.

Friday, Jan. 31 and Saturday, Feb. 1: Upper School musical, "Mamma Mia" is on stage for two more nights! The show starts at 7 p.m. in St. Nicholas Hall. Entrance is free. Learn more.

On Friday, Jan. 31 check out the last night of evening hours for the Midwinter Arts Show, featuring the work of our visual arts students. Visit the gallery in the Pigott Family Arts from 6-7 p.m. Learn more.

Wednesday, Feb. 5: General John F. Kelly will deliver the Belanich Family Lecture on Ethics and Politics. His talk will focus on the critical distinction between governance and politics and the impact it can have on organizations around the world. The full Lakeside community is invited to the free evening lecture at 7 p.m. in St. Nicholas Hall. Learn more and RSVP on the lecture series webpage.

Monday, Feb. 17 – Friday, Feb. 21: Midwinter break! No classes. Students return the following Monday, Feb. 24.

Betty Benson is Lakeside's Upper School assistant director. You can reach her at or 206-440-2968.