Hyde School Hosts “Know Yourself, Be Yourself” Workshop for Area Middle School

Students from Hyde School and Woodstock Middle School worked together during one of the morning activities of the Know Yourself, Be Yourself workshop.
Students from Hyde School and Woodstock Middle School worked together during one of the morning activities of the Know Yourself, Be Yourself workshop.

On March 30, Hyde School, a national leader in character-based education, held a workshop for 100 local Woodstock Middle School students entitled “Know Yourself, Be Yourself.”

The program brings together Hyde School students with groups of seventh graders from the middle school to focus on their character development as maturing teenagers. Hyde School students led the seventh graders in exercises geared toward their goals and personal experiences, labels they feel they have, and their attitudes toward family and friends.

“I believe this will help with our local community as it connects [Hyde] students to area teens in a positive way,” says Donna Dubinsky, Hyde School Director of Family Education and program facilitator. “The students had a great time working with the seventh graders, and there was a positive response from the kids.”

The purpose of the “Know Yourself” workshop is to help students understand how to take risks to discover more about themselves, and to help them find the courage to be themselves, even when others may not support them – a common scenario among teens. Parents may also do this program at home with their teens, and now is a great time as they prepare to spend more time together during the summer.

There are three tenets of the program:

1. We are all unique and we all want to be somebody.
2. It takes courage to be ourselves.
3. We need the support and challenge of others to find our uniqueness and
to know who we truly are.

At the end of the workshop, students from both schools joined together to sing a rendition of “Lean on Me” in the Hyde School Cultural Center theater.
At the end of the workshop, students from both schools joined together to sing a rendition of “Lean on Me” in the Hyde School Cultural Center theater.

“The greatest gift that parents and the schools can give is that of helping kids to become their authentic selves — and the courage to remain true to themselves,” says parenting expert and executive director of Hyde boarding schools, Laura Gauld. These are themes that develop in adolescence, but remain with us through life.”

As they work the sessions, teens are invited to talk about each of the above points, explain them, define them, and perhaps share a personal example of how they have struggled with this.

They are invited to participate in interactive, often fun exercises, including The Human Knot, and important “Public Self / Private Self” exercises. There is also an essential session on labeling one another, or how students are boxed into categories — the smart one, the dumb one, the fat one, the bully, the one who is creative, or angry, athletic, responsible or irresponsible, etc. — another challenge for teens, and indeed for their parents as well.

Finally, teens are invited to create declarations about themselves, answering two specific questions:

1. What dreams do I have for my future?
2. What do I want to stand for as a person?

“These are guiding principles that will help teens to form their goals, as well as the journey of achieving them,” says Gauld. “And a process of self-discovery supported by their families, better prepares them for school, and indeed for life.”

The Hyde School approach to education has been developed since 1966 at the Hyde boarding campuses in Bath, Maine, and Woodstock, Connecticut, and through public school initiatives in New Haven, Connecticut, Washington, DC, and Bronx, New York. The organization, based in Bath, also includes national parenting workshops and wilderness experiences.

Ninety seven percent of Hyde School graduates are accepted to four-year colleges. To learn more about Hyde Schools, its summer leadership programs, and parenting and teen workshops, log on to www.hyde.edu.

For more information about the “Know Yourself, Be Yourself” program, Hyde Schools, or parenting expert Laura Gauld’s work, contact Pam Hardy at phardy@hyde.edu, call 207-504-6792, or visit Hyde.edu and greatparenting101.com.