February 1, 2023
Dr. Beth Reaves – Head of School, Washington School for Girls (WSG)
Washington School for Girls is a co-sponsored ministry of the Society of the Holy Child Jesus.
Many students make it through middle school without learning public speaking, persuasive writing, and the etiquette of professional interactions. And yet, students are expected to put these skills into practice as they apply to high schools. Because the vast majority of our students apply to Catholic or other faith-based independent schools for high school, it is important that they know how to present themselves authentically.
We make sure students can develop these skills in low-stakes environments before it “counts.” Recently, our 8th graders worked with volunteers to strengthen their personal essays and practice their interviewing skills. By working with volunteers, including non-teaching staff, Board members, and other community members, students had experiences that were more reflective of real-life scenarios than practicing with their peers and teachers who already know them so well.
Each student shared her essay with a volunteer, who offered insights as to what he/she learned about the student from the essay. They then worked together to emphasize the student’s strengths and how the student could contribute to the particular high school to which she was applying. In a later session, each student was paired with a different volunteer for a mock interview modeled after a high school interview. The outcome? Students learned to receive constructive feedback and how to write compellingly about themselves and developed confidence talking to professional adults before they jumped into the application process.