Visiting Speakers

Former UNC Educator Advises EHS on College Transition, Student Support

An expert on the challenges facing students transitioning from high school to college shared her research and experience with EHS this week.
Over two days, Dr. Theresa Maitland — an author and former longtime official with the academic-support center at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill — met with faculty department heads as well as leaders of Episcopal’s medical, counseling, student life, and academic-support programs. She stressed that the classroom woes of first-year college students often stem not from academic deficiencies but from their struggles to adapt to a new environment and expectations. Stripped of high school’s structure and day-to-day guidance, even the smartest kids can flounder, she said.

“Of all the thousands of students that I’ve spoken to, not one has said, ‘This transition was easier than I thought it would be,’ ” Dr. Maitland told the department heads.

At UNC, Dr. Maitland co-authored a program that trains the university’s faculty, staff, tutors, and others to help each student each find the structure, study habits, and lifestyle that will boost classroom performance. A longtime clinician who coached students with ADHD and other learning disabilities to discover how they best studied and learned, she recognized that similar support could benefit all students.

Dr. Adrianna Bravo, Episcopal’s medical director, said Dr. Maitland’s work offers valuable insights for the School as it evaluates its health and wellness programming. Among its core goals, the 2018 Strategic Plan calls for EHS to identify best practices, programs, and supports that equip students to pursue ambitious goals, maintain healthy lifestyles, and thrive in the school community.

“The research is telling us that more and more the determining factors for students' success in college is not their academic prowess,” Bravo said. “Rather, it is about one's ability to use resources, navigate life's challenges, and use well-honed life skills.”

Dr. Maitland spent considerable time talking with the EHS Academic Support Center staff and watching them work with students. Drawing on her experience at UNC, she discussed how a learning center can serve a broad cross-section of students with content support and coaching to help their planning, prioritizing, and organization.
“She was invaluable because she could drill down on strategies that are particularly effective with teenagers,” said Elise Canfield, director of the center.

Dr. Maitland’s work at EHS was made possible by support from Tim Burnett '58, a former member of the Board of Trustees, and his wife, Jane. They are UNC alumni and EHS grandparents.