A singular experience

Students engaged in class discussion.“So, how are things at Dana Hall?”

It’s a simple question, right?


Should I start with the students? The curriculum? Faculty and staff? Alumnae? There are many layers of life at Dana Hall, so for me, a simple question gives me pause. My mind quickly turns to the familiar adage, “Show. Don’t tell.”

I talk about a wide-eyed fifth grader’s interaction with an accomplished junior in the science building. I mention a trusted advisor offering encouragement to a ninth grader before exams. I recount an eighth grader in Honors Geometry alongside her Upper School classmates. These examples aren’t accidents or unintended consequences. This is life at Dana Hall—a daily manifestation of learning, growth, and preparation.

Another question I’m often asked is “What is Dana Hall like?”

When I hear this, my mind turns to academics. Faculty expectations for our students are high. We know academic excellence is achieved when a student’s social and emotional growth complements her intellectual growth, as opposed to these elements of growth being considering as unrelated. And, in our classrooms, in the library, and in the dorm, there is a palpable sense of engagement and collaboration. Here, adults are the champions of our students and our students are the champions of one another. At Dana Hall, one student’s success is not the result of another student’s defeat. In fact, it’s the opposite; authentic encouragement is the hallmark of a student’s academic life.

I also think about moments of human interaction—relationships. And not just perfunctory ones. Ones that grow from meaningful interaction. Ones that are fueled by empathy and curiosity—the kind of relationships that last and inform life today and life as alumnae. Students are compelled to listen deeply to perspectives and develop values that allow them to bring a braveness to all that they do here. They achieve here in ways they wouldn’t elsewhere.

Whether questions about Dana Hall are simple or nuanced, we know this to be true. The Dana Hall experience is singular. It is inspired. It delivers on its mission each day and prepares young women for a life of meaningful interaction and remarkable achievement.

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About Rob Mather

Rob Mather is the Assistant Head of School at Dana Hall. He joined the School in 1992.

3 Replies to “A singular experience”

  1. Rob, I love the part when you write: “one student’s success is not the result of another student’s defeat.” Singular to Dana Hall, indeed.

  2. Rob,
    Your message is on point and resonates with my own experiences as a member of this community. Thank you for sharing your vision of Dana Hall!

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