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Upper School Director's Notes

A message from Director of Upper School, Dr. Anna Barter:

Dear Upper School Families,

During the past week, I had the chance to address the ninth and tenth grade students. As the girls walked into DeChantal, I said a quick prayer that I would find words that would resonate with them. Working with high school girls for more than a decade, I have come to understand how what I say matters and can be the difference between them having a good or bad day. Vis girls are smart and they know when the person in front of them is being genuine. Today, my topic was academic buoyancy, a term that was at the forefront of panels I attended at the International Coalition of Girls Schools’ Global Forum in Boston this past summer. Academic buoyancy refers to a student’s ability to successfully deal with academic setbacks and challenges that are typical of the ordinary course of school life, whether it be poor grades, competing deadlines, exam pressure or difficult schoolwork. Just like a muscle that gets stronger with specific exercises, academic buoyancy gets stronger with specific strategies. Hence, the reason that I found myself in front of the girls with a slide deck prepared and a basket of candy to encourage participation (something that was hardly necessary but nice to have in light of the class taking place right before lunch).

The girls were quick to participate and offer their thoughts about the challenges that they faced as high schoolers. Without knowing the definition of the term, they were able to pinpoint that which can cause stress as well as what might help to alleviate it. We discussed strategies that included getting fresh air, eating three meals a day at regular times, and establishing a nighttime routine to ensure better sleep. We also discussed the importance of sharing our goals aloud with someone and remembering to keep in mind what is going well in our lives. From there, the girls drafted individual goals, and I am eager to review them in the weeks ahead. A lesson that will continue not just for school, but for life. 

I know that it is my responsibility as Director of the Upper School to ensure that not only my ninth graders and tenth graders but also my juniors and seniors continue to develop the skills to bounce back – to be buoyant – when faced with the inevitable challenges that await them in their professional and personal lives. To know that they are capable is one of the greatest gifts that a Visitation education can offer our young women, and I am heartened to know that this learning takes place in earnest from the moment students enter our doors and continues to such an extent that our graduates are ready to go out into the world to be and do good in their communities. What a gift.


Anna Bachman Barter, PhD
Director of Upper School