Thompson and Evans Bring Expertise to Trinity

Kaylee Ortega, Staff Writer

  After seeing them present at the Florida Council of Independent Schools, Trinity Prep welcomed psychologists Michael Thompson and Robert Evans to lecture on the effects of the COVID-19 pandemic in the education system.

  In their recently published co-authored book, Hopes and Fears, Thompson and Evans examined the unavoidable difficulties that arise in the parent-school relationship. 

  Due to their experience not only as clinical psychologists, but school consultants and international speakers, Upper School Principal Tracy Bonday felt it would be beneficial to extend this learning experience to all members of the Trinity family. 

  “The lack of direct communication during the pandemic provided us with the opportunity to give teachers insights to feel more comfortable in having those communications with students and parents,” Bonday said. 

  Due to his elevated experience in the field of child psychology, Thompson led the student session for upperclassmen while Evans presented to the board of trustees. 

  Rather than solely lecturing to upperclassmen, Thompson focused on asking audience members questions about college decisions and stressors they faced during the COVID-19 pandemic. 

  “I went into it thinking we would be told different methods to deal with our various mental health struggles as growing teens,” said senior Taylor Brown. “Instead, it turned out to be more of an interview, which made it feel like a collection of data instead of a learning experience.”

  A study conducted by Active Minds, a nonprofit group supporting mental health education, reported on the recent upward trend of anxiety among students, finding that 80% have experienced some negative impact to their mental health due to the pandemic.  

  “A lot of the students have seemed to be, this year, a little more stressed with the return to regular school and getting back into a routine,” Bonday said.

  Guidance Counselor Rylan Smith credits this to online learning which, in some cases, heightened the social anxiety of students returning to campus and resulted in the slower development of social skills.

  “It [online learning] forced some students to lose out on key times where social skills were being developed,” Smith said. “They are now having to learn those skills at an age that’s older than when they would have naturally.”

  Due to Trinity’s accreditation review last fall, Bonday believes that there is some benefit to conducting group meetings on a yearly basis, hosted by an assorted group of speakers. 

  “Moving forward, we will be looking at other ways to program these opportunities into the curriculum,” Bonday said, “As there is a desire right now and a focus as we move forward to better support social and emotional learning for the student body as a whole.”