I only know one Latin phrase, and sadly, this basic lexicon may never improve. Mens sana in corpore sano. The motto of the old University School means, “A healthy mind in a healthy body.” If you are going to know only one Latin phrase at SMUS, this is it. As we embark on the next chapter of our student health and wellness journey, these words resonate more deeply with me than ever.
People understand the importance of a healthy body: the heart and lungs for sustaining life, muscles and bones for movement, exercise and eating well are ideas that are widely accepted, if not always embraced. The healthy mind may not be quite as well understood, and as a result, we often don’t take the care we should with it. As this blog unfolds, I will draw many links between the mind and body, which I believe underpin student health and wellness.
As we learn more about the brain and how students learn, this knowledge shapes the way we teach, and how schools as a whole operate. Personalized learning is deeply rooted in what we know about creating an optimum environment for students to learn. One of the most important breakthroughs is the understanding that students who are happy, healthy and balanced make better learners. As our Head of School Bob Snowden wrote in a recent blog, the Student Health and Wellness Team has been tasked with continuing to ensure that student health and wellness is embedded in what we do as a school, from Kindergarten through to Grade 12. The ideas of balance and resilience will anchor our program.
We are coming from a good place as a school, and this team will build on all that Virginia Ronning (our former Head of Counselling) and her team put in place. Students have been introduced to mindfulness and its many benefits, starting at the Junior School, right up to the Senior grades. Student health, wellness and balance have increasingly worked their way into conversations in classrooms and the staff room alike. This is a trend that our team will look to build on.
A healthy mind and body are necessary for our students to thrive in their SMUS educations, and to move on to balanced, fulfilled lives. The best schools make health and wellness a part of the broader conversation, and give students the tools to be healthy and balanced. I am looking forward to many conversations surrounding these themes in the coming weeks and months.
Ritch Primrose is SMUS’s Director of Health and Wellness, and Head of Physical Education at the Senior School.