Student Wellness

“Statistically, we know that young people have the best chance at success when surrounded by adults who are consistent, predictable and overtly interested in their success. We also know that a young person has to feel safe, and they have to feel like they belong, in order to thrive.”  – Paula Walter, Dean of Student Life

Portsmouth Abbey School places the health, safety, and spiritual wellness of its students before any other priority. If our children are the heirs to God’s Kingdom — as Christ tells us they are — then our stewardship of their education requires vigilant awareness, clear-eyed understanding and relentless compassion.

To assure the maintenance of appropriate boundaries between constituents of our community, whether they be students, teachers, administrators, or staff members, we work with Praesidium, an organization staffed by social workers, human resource professionals, attorneys and researchers. Praesidium assesses and certifies the policies and procedures that the Abbey has worked to enact. By collaborating with an independent, unaffiliated entity, we create a system of checks and balances that enhances our accountability when it comes to identifying, reporting, and following up on emotional, physical, or sexual abuse.

A set of rigorous hiring practices aims to prevent bad-faith actors from entering our community in any context. Every new hire interviews with Paula Walter, Dean of Student Life, during the application process. Paula details the Code of Conduct (which is reviewed and signed annually by every employee of the School), and outlines the School’s attitude of proactive prevention. Faculty and staff members also complete yearly training on recognizing “red flag” behaviors and upholding appropriate boundaries with students.

Our dedicated Infirmary staff keeps informed of new developments in child health and psychology and regularly shares its findings with a senior faculty advisory board. They also present to the faculty at large once every term. The School has a physician on call seven days a week and two mental health counselors whose services can be scheduled through the Infirmary three days a week.

Students at Portsmouth Abbey School are surrounded by caring adults, whether they’re in the classroom, on the athletic field, onstage, or in the house. Every student meets weekly with four to six classmates and a faculty advisor to discuss any issues related to their mental, emotional, or spiritual wellbeing. These faculty members creatively support the academic, athletic, artistic, and social success of their advisees throughout their Abbey tenure. Additionally, each student has three house parents in his or her residential house. These house parents oversee study hall, lead evening prayers, and cultivate camaraderie amongst residents of the house. They also appoint Prefects, Sixth-Formers who liaise between students and house parents, and aid in maintaining the discipline and togetherness that makes a healthy house community.

Additional information may be found in our Student Handbook