New Life Skills Class Offers Practical Lessons

The number one question on every student’s mind when struggling with algebraic equations or memorizing every act of the U.S. Constitution goes like this, “When am I ever going to use this information in the future?” Ursuline’s administration has created a new course covering essential life skills where this question can be answered to a student’s satisfaction immediately.

The Life Skills course is described simply as a year-long class split into two semesters, one during freshmen year and one during junior year. The course teaches practical skills required for tackling life’s common predicaments.

An idea conceived by Ursuline’s Well-Being Team, the course is being implemented to cut down graduation requirements as well as impart lessons not taught in the curriculum’s core classes.

Dean of Students Kayla Brown referenced extensive research and studies prompting schools to teach teenagers the importance of simple life skills like finance and communication when she decided to adjust the Ursuline curriculum.

The life skills journey begins freshmen year with what Brown describes as a “welcome to Ursuline and study skills class.” She said that the semester-long class will usher in unacquainted freshmen to high school with quick tips on how to survive Ursuline and information about the school’s unique aspects such as schedules, lunch rotation and Ursuline traditions.

Once the freshmen feel comfortable in their new environment, the course launches into an overview of social and personal issues, subjects that are typically overlooked in the average math or history class. These social relations topics cover lessons from social awareness to interpersonal communications. The class will explore in-depth both friendship and communication with teachers, topics specific to the typical Ursuline freshman.

The course also aims to cover topics deemed important to personal growth, especially at the pivotal moment of entering high school. Some of these lessons include time management, study skills and mindfulness, skills that will not only ease the transition into high school but also prove useful for handling personal and mental health in the future.

The freshman year course concludes with a community inclusion session, finishing the semester with an emphasis on one of Ursuline’s core values: sisterhood.

The second half of the Life Skills course continues junior year. This semester-long class continues the teaching of life essentials but takes a different approach by focusing on skills related to life in and after college. The junior year class approaches the semester by preparing students with what they need to know for success after high school, something they often do not get the opportunity to learn.

Juniors will be taught personal safety and self-defense, care maintenance and cooking and digital leadership and values. The course covers a variety of topics all geared toward the students’ future independent life.

In regard to the logistics of the course, the class is in no way traditional. Students will get the opportunity to learn from different experts in multiple fields as well as hear from outside sources. Brown considers the project “an amazing puzzle in which the teachers and administration get to construct.”

Brown said that the topics will be so diverse that not one teacher could manage to cover them in the depth necessary, so the administration plans to involve many different departments. These will include both math and economics teachers assisting with a finance lesson and the personal counselors teaching mindfulness.

Isabella Zarmakoupis, Ursuline junior, says, “Knowing that I lack knowkedge in areas such as finance and self-defense, my hope is that this class will equip me to take on my future with as many life skills as possible.”

Overall, this course is an exciting new opportunity for all Ursuline students to gain a plethora of tools to feel comfortable and well-prepared for their path during and outside of high school.

Image courtesy of Kate Giebler ’21

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