Student Confidence

By Rose Helm
Yesterday morning, I joined the sixth grade students and faculty as we traveled 26 miles across the sea to Catalina Island Marine Institute. I am so glad to be back on this trip as it is one of my favorite school trips ever since I went as an eighth grade student. In fact, when I reflect back on my middle school days, I remember both the joyful rush of independence and the agonizing moments of awkwardness.
One of my most awkward moments was in sixth grade when I competed in the Miss American Pre-Teen Pageant. In addition to the braces and feathered bangs, I brought to the table some impressive jazz moves, which advanced me to the semi-finals of the competition. Unfortunately, what cost me the title was my rather uninspired performance in the interview round. When asked what I would show someone visiting my hometown of Laguna Beach (home of the Pageant of the Masters and Festival of the Arts, by the way), I responded, “I would take you to the mall and buy you a sweater.” While it’s true that I spent most of my free time in 1989 at Fashion Island, hopping between Sam Goody and Contempo Casuals, my answer proved that I had limited experience talking with adults I didn’t know. While I cherished my 3rd runner-up trophy, I have always replayed that moment as a lost opportunity to put my best foot forward.

What amazes me about JTD students is how confident they are when speaking with adults. This starts in the classrooms with the roles our teachers give students. Just last week, I witnessed a Kindergartener give the class a weather report and a second grader stand up to give me a report on what they were learning when I walked into the classroom. Every day, in big and small ways, our students practice risk-taking and public speaking, both of which ultimately equip them with the skills needed to navigate the world beyond JTD.

Over the course of the next month, I will be meeting with each sixth grader to conduct mock interviews in preparation for their secondary school interviews. My goal for our time together is to help them be comfortable talking about themselves with someone other than their parents. When our students return to school feeling positive about how their interview went, I am glad they were spared at least one agonizing moment of awkwardness in their middle school years.

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The John Thomas Dye School

11414 Chalon Road
Los Angeles, CA 90049
Phone: (310) 476-2811
The John Thomas Dye School admits students of any race, color, religion, sexual orientation, or national and ethnic origin to all the rights, privileges, programs, and activities generally accorded or made available to students at the School. It does not discriminate on the basis of race, color, religion, sexual orientation, or national and ethnic origin in the administration of its educational policies, admission policies, scholarship and loan programs, and athletic or other school-administered programs.

Located In Los Angeles, CA, John Thomas Dye is an independent school for grades K-6. Students benefit from a challenging academic program, fine arts, competitive athletics, and a wide selection of extracurricular activities.