Educating the whole child- mind, body and spirit- is enveloped in the St. Thomas Aquinas High School mission. As a caring community guided by the light of the Gospel, STA sets itself apart from other high schools by truly connecting with every single student. Assuring every child that s/he is an important, cherished member of our school community is a well-established imperative. In addition to faculty, staff and administrators’ continuous attention to the students and their student life experience, the STA Guidance Counselors are a vital ingredient to our Saints’ overall healthy formation.
“We strive to provide a family feel to our Guidance program,” says Guidance Director, Jill Mahan (also an STA alumna, Class of 2000). “As opposed to a public school that must serve a large number of students, St. Thomas is blessed to be able to forge a much deeper connection with both students and families.”
During their first year, STA Guidance Counselors spend an entire day with freshmen, introducing them to a wide variety of high school concepts, including basic study skills, stress and time management, social media awareness. “We cover everything that will help the students adjust and transition to this new experience,” says Ms. Mahan.
Guiding each Saint through each year is simply a given at STA. Sophomore year, students are introduced to the college process and the school’s Family Connection online tool by Naviance. This program offers STA students a comprehensive college and career readiness solution and aligns each student’s strengths and interests to their postsecondary goals. The beauty of the program is that it helps our students comfortably navigate through the sometimes-daunting process of preparing for life after high school.
By junior year, students are well on their way to considering their future, enrolling in on-campus SAT prep programs and beginning to visualize their post-graduate plans.
Aside from academic planning, STA Guidance Counselors are extraordinarily gifted at addressing students’ life needs. Whether a child is experiencing anxiety, stress, a physical health condition, peer issues, or simply swings by for a “fireside chat,” our Guidance staff receives each one with tender hospitality and genuine care. “Because our caseload is smaller than most schools, we are able to do that which we most want to do- check in with each student regularly, ensure that his/her needs are being met and that each student feels successful in his/her efforts. Most importantly, we strive to ensure that every student feels that they are a vital part of our STA family.”
Ms. Mahan’s emphasis on family is echoed by her colleagues and all of us in the STA community. Again in continuance of the STA mission, we must ensure our St. Thomas Aquinas students view themselves as God sees them- lights in darkness who are destined to illuminate the world.