Episcopal recently received funding from the Winston Family Foundation for a grant program entitled Technology and Teenagers. Surveys conducted through ESJ’s Health, Safety, and Well-Being program have identified social media and technology as key contributors to student anxiety levels. Teachers echo the sentiment and strive to incorporate technology in the classroom without losing connection to students and each other. Amy Burrows Perkins ‘92, Director of Student Services, and Tracy Jester, Physical Education Instructor and Associate Director of Honor Education, will lead the initiative for the school as part of ESJ’s Health, Safety, and Well-Being program.
“Parents, teachers, and students themselves have guided us to prioritize technology as a Health, Safety, and Well-Being focus. With remote learning in place, the timing of this grant provides us with a unique opportunity to hone in on issues impacting students and faculty, and quickly implement solutions. Tracy and I look forward to partnering with all of our community’s stakeholders to make the most out of this opportunity,” shares Amy.
The grant, $150,000 over three years, will allow the school to explore the appropriate use of technology and offer real life strategies for managing it more productively. This includes inclusive conversations with students about the importance of technology and social media in their lives and how faculty and staff can partner with them to disempower the negative consequences of a culture that has become saturated with curated online behavior. A student leader will be appointed to serve as a liaison between the student body and the program leaders.
“We are grateful to the Winston Family Foundation for making it possible for us to make a meaningful impact in an area that affects all of us every day,” said The Rev. Adam Greene, Head of School. “This grant will provide an ongoing opportunity to measure that impact and will give us a framework for guiding responsible use.”
Given the current environment and the school’s reliance on remote learning, it is essential to focus on helping students learn how to discern when to use technology, how to assess when it is starting to dominate their thinking, and how to have the courage to make necessary changes in their interactions with technology.
The Winston Family Foundation was established upon the passing James H. Winston in 2018. Jim Winston was an Episcopal Founder, longtime benefactor, and Trustee Emeritus.