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Developing the SBS Portrait of a Graduate in Upper School

Developing the SBS Portrait of a Graduate in Upper School

Upper school at SBS can be summarized with one word - intentional. The high school experience is designed to develop well-rounded students who fulfill the SBS Portrait of a Graduate. Head of Upper School Jon Konzelman emphasizes, “We encourage students to think critically in the classroom, live biblically in their daily interactions and lead courageously with their involvement in co-curriculars.”

High school students are given opportunities to pursue their passions through clubs, leadership positions, sports and the arts, all while preparing for the important next step in their lives - college. Students do not do any of this alone. Faculty and staff offer support and guidance, but none more so than the upper school counselor. 

New to this role in 2021 is Samantha Morris - mom to recent graduate Miranda ‘21 and Jacob ‘24. Samantha started in the technology department at SBS in 2014 before transitioning to middle school where she taught Spanish, technology and robotics. While teaching, she earned her masters in education in school counseling, which led her to the upper school counselor role.

At SBS, this pivotal position is meant to foster a safe and positive culture for students to achieve individual academic success and strong social-emotional development so they can live according to God’s purpose. Samantha states that her main goal is to “establish relationships with students and families to provide guidance, support and encouragement throughout their time at SBS.” She believes in creating solution-focused strategies and serving as an authentic and compassionate role model for students. 

With a recent SBS graduate and one child in high school, Samantha relates to the challenges that upper school students and parents face each day. She offers advice to parents of high school students at SBS, “God has a purpose for your student! Celebrate the milestones and have fun along the way. Discover the powerful lessons learned through challenging experiences and be thankful for them.” She also offers advice for students, “Be excited about what your future holds, be focused, dedicated and an engaged learner. Be positive because positive thinking is associated with positive results.”

SBS welcomes many new families in ninth grade. These families are offered the same intentionality with a four year plan and meet with Samantha one-on-one to learn more about the well-rounded educational experience, extracurricular activities and volunteer opportunities offered at SBS. Discussing each student's interest and dreams enables Samantha to offer individual support throughout their high school years.

Families transitioning from middle to high school at SBS are introduced to her role through their student’s eighth grade Bible class where she introduces herself and the four year plan meeting. Samantha shares insight into these introductions, “the students each put together a slide presentation in preparation for the four year plan meeting which helps them discover their passions.” Eighth grade families attend meetings with Samantha in the spring to create a path toward a successful future in high school at SBS. She also thinks beyond high school, “I believe an excellent four year plan contributes to earning valuable scholarships and attending the college of their choice.”