“Our students (and staff and faculty) are surrounded by music; it floods the halls and classrooms, and . . . traditional collegiate conversations around clubs, organizations, and sports here are replaced with talk and comparison of performances, recitals, and master classes.”
Well, right now (March 25th) – with COVID-19 spreading rapidly and the shift to online learning for the remainder of the semester and the closing of our residence halls – our students have really had to adjust quickly. They have had to grapple with the loss of a traditional college semester and all the experiences both in and out of the classroom that come with it, all while having to adjust to online learning and being back home again. Luckily, we have an amazing team of administrators, staff, and faculty here. We have all been working with our students throughout this entire time to make sure they are safe and okay and that these changes and adjustments go smoothly.
Outside of that, on a normal day at Curtis, one of the most important things that my team and I do is to provide our residential community with opportunities to de-stress and socialize outside of the classroom and practice room. When not in the classroom or performing, our students spend most of their time practicing and perfecting their craft and often forget to take breaks, relax, and have some fun. That’s where residence life comes in, providing opportunities to grow and learn outside of the classroom as well as presenting programming and events that allow our students to practice self-care and also just enjoy time with peers and friends.
One of the best things about working in student affairs, and residence life in particular, is the impact you’ll have on the students you serve. I’m honored and privileged to have the opportunity to help students succeed both socially and academically while watching them grow and develop during such a critical time in their lives.
The rise of mental health issues is an area I think we are all struggling with in higher education. Many students are struggling with mental health concerns like anxiety and depression, which can have a substantial impact on their social and academic success. I think we need to rethink our approach in this area and how we support our students with mental health concerns; a more holistic and collaborative approach (combining res life, student life, counseling, etc.) might be more effective. Additionally, more emphasis on training folks (student staff, professional staff, and faculty) in identifying students at risk for mental health issues early on is crucial in successfully helping them as well.
There is a reason we are regarded as one of the best and most selective institutions in the country. The unique conservatory experience that Curtis offers is unlike any other in the world. Our students (and staff and faculty) are surrounded by music; it floods the halls and classrooms, and you will find that traditional collegiate conversations around clubs, organizations, and sports here are replaced with talk and comparison of performances, recitals, and master classes. It’s unlike any other institution I have ever seen.
One of my favorite Curtis traditions is one that dates back to the 1920s, and that’s our weekly tea. Every Wednesday at 3 p.m. during the academic year, students, faculty, staff, and administration gather in our main building for tea, light refreshments, and conversation. This distinctive and classic event provides the entire Curtis community a break from work and class to relax and catch up with colleagues and students while enjoying some of the best tea around.
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