Speaker Series Offers Expert Advice to Students as they Chart their Futures

Speaker Series Offers Expert Advice to Students as they Chart their Futures
Gretchen Lee

As the Upper School Learning Specialist, Stacey Clark knows first-hand the rigor of the Saddle River Day School curriculum. There is no doubt that when it comes to the traditional study areas including Science, Math, English, History, Languages, and Technology, Saddle River Day School is unrivaled. She also understands that it takes more than academic excellence and achievement for kids to succeed in our rapidly changing world. So, last spring, Stacey approached Head of School, Jalaj Desai, with an idea for a supplemental speaker series that she hoped would enrich and round out our students’ educational opportunities in a way that was fun, approachable and effective. In its inaugural season, this series is packed with experts and professionals from across the country who have a wide range of life experience, perspective, and professional accomplishments, presenting topics that will be a dynamic and progressive complement to our academics.  
Dubbed the Friday Speaker Series at a recent assembly, the plan is to bring in alumni and representatives from the community at large to speak with students and "enrich, optimize, and enhance students’ well-being and overall experience”. In her role, Stacey meets with SRDS students daily and can attest to the fact that every student experiences highs and lows. Anyone who has parented, or is in the process of parenting a teen, can relate. 
With this in mind, the Friday Speaker Series was developed to provide low stakes social and emotional support to the student body through topics including self-discipline and goal setting, the impact of gratitude on our daily life, financial literacy, mental health and wellness, and resilience. The series will offer Upper School students the chance to discuss and explore some heavier topics as well. Frank, informative discussions around dating violence, alcohol awareness, and suicide prevention are planned for later in the year. 
First up was Renee Sanjuan, a Major in the Army and an SRDS parent. Renee is currently serving as the Associate Dean for Policy and Communications at the United States Military Academy where she is an assistant professor. She spoke to our students about civic engagement, student development and charting your future under the heading Perfect is Boring. On Friday. November 11th in honor of Veteran’s Day, alumnus, Princeton grad, NYU MBA, retired military officer, and current financial analyst, David Leffler ‘04, spoke to the Upper School about Winning as a Team: Military Lessons for Life. Later in the year, Wyckoff author Robert Skead will present the topic of creativity, describing the writing process in an age appropriate way to each of the three divisions, and encouraging everyone in our student body to become writers or even authors. Students will also have the opportunity to receive a hard copy signed book as they take some inspiration with them.
Yes, knowing algebraic formulas and when to use a semi-colon are important. But also critical to the development of the whole child are tools such as flexibility, adaptability, and organization. This year’s speakers will address these issues and give SRDS students practical advice on how to hone these skills in their own lives. After the past few years of uncertainty, Stacey Clark has made it her mission to give SRDS students lifelong tools so they can adjust the lens through which they see the world. Her mission is to educate and inspire with positive stories delivered in a safe, benign environment.