Over more than three decades at Antilles, Verian Tuttle has worn many hats. Starting out as a substitute teacher, she then became a fixture in our Early Learning Center before putting her background in school psychology to good use as our Lower School Counselor.
In this role, Verian says her philosophy is simple.
"For me, it's just about making students feel good and connected, and supporting teachers in the classroom," she shared. To achieve that, Verian encourages open discussion at home and on campus about the importance of having good mental health - which, at a Lower School level, often translates into simply reducing stress and anxiety for students so they can focus and interact positively with one another.
Some days, that may be easier said than done - but employing mindfulness techniques like breathing help, and they are easy to bring into the classroom.
"Everyone has strengths, and everyone has areas they need to work on," she said. "Earlier in my career, I loved working in the ELC, but I saw more and more kids struggling with attention deficit. Often times, being able to meet students where they are at, understanding how they learn, taking away distractions, providing them with the resources they need to be successful, can make all the difference, and that is what I love being able to do."
Through the Character Counts program, Verian is also able to strengthen students' understanding of what it means to be kind, respectful, and fair.
"It's that kind of social-emotional learning that we want to embrace and have in our curriculum," she said. "And, it lends itself to great discussions. When you bring those traits to the forefront every year, students at every level get something different out of it, they think about what those traits mean in their own lives, and they start to connect them to who they want to be."
With the foundation laid at school, Verian said the third part of her philosophy hinges on fostering a strong home-school connection, which weaves families into the process and offers opportunities for deeper understanding and reinforcement.
"Research shows that when you bring these two worlds together, students do better in school, teachers gain high self-esteem, and parents become empowered and invested in their child's life," she said. "It's one of the most important pieces of the puzzle and also lends itself to the building of a great resource program that gives us the chance to look at offering student services for a wide range of learners - not just students who may be struggling, but those in the middle, and those gifted students at the opposite end of the spectrum."