A Reflection on Dr. Lisa Miller's Talk
Meg Black, Upper School Learning Support Specialist

Imagine you are setting a table, and you are inviting everyone you love to sit there with you…

This was the start of an activity that Dr. Lisa Miller invited us into at the conclusion of her talk on the importance of spirituality. The timing of her visit was ideal. It was the Tuesday evening during Catholic Schools Week, a time when we focus on and appreciate the contribution of students, parents, family members, staff, volunteers, and other community members in supporting our mission of education. As staff, we had the opportunity to read some chapters of Dr. Miller’s book, The Awakened Brain, and then discuss them through the lens of how we can support the spiritual development of our students. In the book, and in her talk, Dr. Miller shared many interesting facts and figures about the positive influence of spirituality on adolescents, but a few in particular have stuck with me in the weeks following…

  1. Spirituality is mostly environmentally formed. While about one-third of a person’s spirituality is innate, the other two-thirds depend on environmental factors. Our school environment can be an important part of a student’s spiritual development and help cultivate feelings of connectedness.
  2. Asking students to reflect on the question, “What is life showing you now?” I appreciated this question as a thoughtful way to respond when students are inevitably challenged by something at some point during their upper school experience. Instead of responding to a disappointment or challenge with the refrain of “try harder” or “maybe next time”, we can face a struggle trying to see the path forward and the opportunity for a lesson to be learned.
  3. Viewing our school as a community of faith and of contribution. The benefits of practicing our faith are balanced with the benefits of helping others. These are values that go hand in hand. We invite others to sit at our table- a reminder that we are not alone; we are always connected.