Promoting community wellness and balance are the GOALS


Lindsay Taylor '24

The Sacred Heart Greenwich faculty institutes GOALS time to promote extra-curricular enrichment and balance.

With the intent of providing an opportunity for students to dedicate time to areas of educational enrichment outside of the core curriculum, the Sacred Heart Greenwich faculty integrated a GOALS period into the Wednesday schedule for this academic year.  During this time, students can participate in activities centered around the five Goals and Criteria of a Sacred Heart education.

Mr. Kevin Bailey, Director of Academics, accepted a position at Sacred Heart due to its well-defined mission and welcoming atmosphere.  He believes that the new GOALS period contributes to Sacred Heart’s community-oriented environment by allocating students the time to achieve their personal objectives for the school year.

“What I see as really exciting about that GOALS time is that it’s kind of like putting our money where our mouth is,” Mr. Bailey said.  “If we say that all of these co-curricular programs are essential to a student’s growth, development, and sense of self, we have to commit time to it.  If we say we trust Sacred Heart girls to benefit from an atmosphere of wise freedom, we have to give them some freedom.”

During GOALS time, Environmental Stewardship Committee members Emily Sedgwick ’24, Jane Cary ’24, Avery Kim ’24, and Frankie Marangi ’24 gather ironweed seeds for the campus native meadow.  Courtesy of Dr. William Mottolese

Mr. Bailey also emphasizes that the Goals of a Sacred Heart education do not solely comprise curricular endeavors.  He instead highlights that true education incorporates areas of growth outside of a purely academic setting.

“Calculus class is awesome, and it’s really important.  The time that we spend reading historical documents and doing science projects, that’s essential to growing into the student, the learner, and the problem solver that you’re going to be, but committing to your sustainability project is essential too,” Mr. Bailey said.  “Spending time in the robotics lab or in the chapel is part of educating the whole girl, and we’re committed to that.”

Similarly, Upper School Dean of Students Mrs. Sarah Bergin believes that GOALS time allows students to build community according to Goal Four in a more personal way.  She wants the GOALS program to be an accessible and inclusive environment that provides fun and relief for all students and faculty.

“This time is a great opportunity for the whole community to be together in a different way,”  Mrs. Bergin said.  “It’s a time for students to do what they feel they need to do to help them feel grounded and centered, whether that be engaging in a club or going to the chapel to meditate.”

Student leadership are also contributing their values and needs into this weekly event.  Senior and Student Council Vice President Annie Finn worked alongside her fellow council members to plan a grade-bonding activity through sports and games during the first GOALS period of the school year.

“The student council came up with that fun day for the first GOALS period because we wanted an opportunity for all the student body to get together,” Annie said.  “We wanted to use it for the newer girls in the community to get to know everyone and kick-start a little bit of fun before academics truly get hard.  We thought it would be a good welcome to Sacred Heart.”

Annie looks forward to more community-building activities during future GOALS periods.  She and the rest of the student council are developing potential uses for this time based on the feedback from the student body.

“We had this idea to open up GOALS time to activities students weren’t directly involved in,” Annie said.  “I don’t take art, but we can have an open studio time.  Hopefully, when we all get used to the GOALS period we can plan more and open up more activities for students to try because I know it’s hard to get involved in a lot of things because of the limited time we have at school.”

Interim Head of Upper School Mrs. Marcie McDonald was instrumental in developing the GOALS period.  She believes these revamped Wednesday afternoons will provide a space and time for wellness and togetherness.

The original intention behind the GOALS period was to continue the early dismissal time on Wednesday afternoons that emerged during COVID-19.  The Upper School faculty decided to modify this schedule slightly to create a communal time during school hours that provides activities and support for students while giving them the opportunity to focus on their mental and physical well-being.

The Environmental Stewardship Committee learns about bees and the process of honey extraction.  Courtesy of Ms. Ellyn Stewart

“Hopefully, this approach not only provides that same opportunity for students to focus on things that alleviate stress, but also enriches it,” Mrs. McDonald said.  “Students will feel less stressed if we provide time that is specifically committed to giving extra help; if we provide these departmental learning hubs where they can go and have the time to dedicate to getting for a specific course.  But then, we also wanted to provide things like an open art room, where if you’re not in an art class, you can go explore that; time for programs like Chess, Speech and Debate, or Mock Trial; or time to learn a new skill like Podcasting.”

Mrs. McDonald sees planning events that support student development as an important aspect of her role as Interim Head of Upper School.  She hopes this new period will help Sacred Heart students become more balanced and joyful during their time in high school.

“My goal is to provide a place where we help girls find that all-important balance in their lives,” Mrs. McDonald said.  “We want you to become well-educated and articulate young women, but not to the extent that school and learning become a burden or stressor in your life.  We want all of you in the school to love being educated young women.  My goal is to create an environment and find that perfect balance between being the best we can be academically while also putting that into perspective and having a really balanced and happy four years of high school.”

Featured Image by Lindsay Taylor ’24