An Independent School • Grades 5-12

by Julie Lutton, 5-12 personal development and wellness department head

This article was initially published in September 2021.

One of the lessons all of us have learned during the pandemic is that we’re stronger when we work together. When parents/guardians and teachers work as a team, we can provide a powerful web of support for our students. 

This year, we will continue to strengthen the relationship between school and home with a series of educational webinars for parents and guardians. “Intersections of Identity and Wellbeing,” hosted by Lakeside’s personal development and wellness department, will offer parents and guardians opportunities to explore how identity affects people’s understanding of what it means to be healthy and well. 

Lakeside’s personal development and wellness curriculum centers personal and community definitions of health rather than a single “truth” about what it means to be healthy. When this exploration extends into the home, it strengthens the learning experience for students. Pre-teens and teenagers are going through a critical time of life: articulating who they are as individuals and what they believe and value. Even as our students go through this developmental stage, the COVID pandemic, calls for racial justice, and seismic shifts in society have caused all of us to ask, what does it mean to be mentally and physically healthy and well? It’s become increasingly clear that concepts of health and wellbeing are not universally shared and that everyone’s individual understanding of what it means to be healthy is deeply shaped by their identities and experiences, and may shift over time.

In 90-minute webinars we hope to: 

  • Help parents and guardians develop the skills and confidence to talk about identity and wellbeing with their students. 
  • Alleviate parents’ and guardians’ feelings of isolation, and calm concerns that “you are the only one” having trouble navigating these discussions with your students.  
  • Share how Lakeside’s Middle School personal development and Upper School wellness courses approach the topics of identity and wellbeing, and provide parents and guardians with jumping-off points for conversations at home.  
  • Encourage parents and guardians to consider their own values, upbringings, and perspectives on what it means to be healthy in these areas. 
  • Present multiple perspectives on the intersection between health and the particular identity-based topic being addressed.  

We will offer four webinars this year, beginning after winter break. Each will feature Lakeside faculty and staff as well as members of community organizations. Dates, times, and registration links for these sessions will be emailed to families. All webinars will be recorded and posted on the parents and guardians webpage.

Topic 1: Identity and Mental Health on Wednesday, Jan. 19 at 7 p.m. Watch a recording.

This session will explore questions such as: What does it mean to be mentally healthy? How do various identity groups define, express, and address mental illness? What options or resources are available for coping with and/or treating mental illness in ways that align with families’ culture and values? What practices or behaviors can parents and guardians model at home to promote mental wellbeing in their students?

Topic 2: Identity and Body Image on Thursday, Feb. 3 at 7 p.m. Watch a recording.

We will explore questions such as: What beauty standards is my student exposed to? How are beauty standards impacted by identities such as race, ethnicity, and gender? How can parents and guardians help their students investigate and challenge beauty standards? How can parents and guardians help their students develop habits that promote health, rather than beauty standards?

Topic 3: Identity and Experiences of Immigration on Monday, March 21 at 7 p.m. Watch a recording.

This session will explore questions such as: What are the challenges and opportunities of parenting a student who is growing up in a different place or culture than the one in which parents and guardians grew up? What do assimilation, acculturation, and cultural preservation mean for a family? How can parents and guardians and their students increase communication about the differences in their experiences of growing up?

Topic 4: Identity and Understanding Gender and Sexuality on Wednesday, May 11 at 7 p.m. Watch a recording.

We will explore questions such as: How can parents and guardians talk with their students about what they are learning (at school and from peers) about gender and sexual orientation? What gender and sexuality norms were parents and guardians raised with, and how do those compare with how they want their students to grow up? How can parents and guardians communicate the hopes and fears they have for their students in regards to gender and sexuality?  

In addition to these webinars, Lakeside will host two special webinars for parents and guardians this fall that will explore how identity and wellbeing intersect, and what families need to know about Lakeside’s new and existing policies in these areas. 

Sexual violence prevention educational webinar. This event is for Upper School parents and guardians. We’ll cover information about about our new sexual violence prevention curriculum in grades 9-12; provide tools for parents and guardians to engage students at home in conversations about sexuality, consent, and sexual violence prevention; and offer resources for further learning. This webinar will take place on Thursday, Oct. 7 from 7-8 p.m.; a link to register was emailed to parents and guardians on Monday, Sept. 27. Learn more about this new program

Bias education and policies educational webinar. All Lakeside families are invited to a webinar that will build understanding of implicit and explicit bias; discuss the effects of bias on learning; and share information about Lakeside’s new policy on recognizing bias and interrupting it with respect and grace, and with the purpose of growth and learning. This event will take place on Feb. 16 at 7 p.m.; families will receive an email with more information and a link to register. Check out the recording and resources from the Feb. 16 webinar with Greg Taylor. It is located on the Parents and Guardians Association webpage for DEI resources, under the tab, “Bias Education.”