We wish to make one thing clear: The Tavern is a completely student-run publication. We are a thoughtpaper made by students, for students interested learning outside the boundaries of their own institutions. Yes, we are students: everyday we walk into our classrooms, sit around Harkness tables, and engage in exhilarating discussions with not only our peers, but also our teachers. Although students contribute to the heart of the discussions, teachers are still a crucial presence in any classroom. Whether they are sharing their wisdom or serving as mediators in heated debates, teachers foster our knowledge, passion, and humanity—there is always something we can learn from them.

Panel members conduct “Ten Minute T(ea)” interviews with teachers they deem to be especially beloved and respected by their respective institutions. The interview takes place over a cup of tea in the span of ten minutes. The interview is recorded and later transcribed by the interviewer. We hope that, by reading through these interviews, our readers will be able to gain special insight on money’s impact in boarding school, insight that can only be brewed from experience and age.

Ten Minute T(ea) with Dr. Elihu Selter

Interview conducted by Loreal Williams, Milton Academy

February 24, 2018

Q: Do boarding schools give room for self-care?


A: I think that it is challenging for boarding schools to give room for self-care.  I do not think it is all boarding schools' fault but the culture we live in today.  I think the day is so long and there is so much expectation to be involved with so many things that we do not prioritize self care.  I think this mind set gets heightened on boarding school campuses with so much pressure to succeed.


Q: What are effective and/or ineffective ways to practice self care in boarding school environments?


A: I honestly think the best way to increase self care is to unplug.  At night do work, not with phones nearby, not doing social media while doing homework, and when it is done, check it for 10 minutes (if you must), put the phone in a different room and go to bed.  Self care begins with sleep and students do not do a good job with that. Technology does not help.


Q: What do you think Milton does well in terms of decreasing stress and prioritizing mental health?


A: I think Milton is trying to do more to promote health and decrease stress. I think they are recognizing that students are more stressed (anxious) and trying to be creative about how they structure a day, assignments, grading, and expectations. We are lucky as mental health is appreciated at MA in ways that so many schools do not. I think we do our best to meet students where they are and try to work with them as best we can. We have a large counseling staff and I find Milton students feel less stigmatized when it comes to mental health than in other places I have worked.  Students are open about their struggles and try their best to support each other and get friends the help they need. The Health Center has places for students to take space or to let out frustration or energy (punching bag in the studio) and the school in general prioritizes exercise and being active. We try to discuss sleep and de-stressing tools in freshman health so that students can learn these early on. We also have a skills center that supports students with different learning needs and I think we do a great job offering accommodations to those that need them. This is a hard place to be successful without learning challenges and for these students it can be that much harder. That staff does a wonderful job. I also feel out dean's and administrators appreciate these challenging needs and support our students who may be struggling in this area.


Q: Similarly, things that Milton needs to improve?


A: I think Milton students feel overburdened with work and I think continuing to examine the expectation for work from students and the learning process is one area MA could do better. Again, I think we as a society need to do better overall at promoting self-care and not worrying so much about end results and “successes.” I think we focus too much on those aspects and we have lost sight of the process and the journey.  It sounds cheesy, but it is really true.


Q: Any other comments related to self care at boarding schools that you would like to share?


A: Self-care is really about appreciating the self and realizing we are defined by so much more than grades or a name on a sweatshirt, or how much money we do or do not make. We need to do more to promote differentiation of self and to recognize we have many talent, many gifts, as do other people. We also need to learn that failing is okay. It sucks, but it is actually really healthy to do and will make for more resilient, less stressed people. If we fail when we are younger and we learn that we can get through that “failure” and everything will be okay, we gain power. Power over self and over fear.  I think our “fear of failure” is what drives so much of what happens for us in this society, it gets magnified at boarding schools, and everything seems to scary out of control. Failure and being okay with failure can lead to great things and I also think go a long way in how we approach self care. And lastly, unplug those phones, headphones, take a walk outside, and get off social media.

Dr. Selter is a counselor at Milton Academy and also teaches Psychology to a handful of students.  Additionally, Dr. Selter advises peer groups on campus, such as Students Educating the Community about Sexuality, and he is an integral part of the Hallowell dorm.  Dr. Selter is well liked and respected in the Milton community, as he has a empathetic, compassionate, and humorous teaching style.      


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