Promoting a Healthy Community Culture

Mercersburg Academy is committed to the safety and well-being of our students and all community members. We believe in creating a positive, respectful, and nurturing culture where adult presence and mentorship frame and support positive peer interactions promoting a healthy and safe environment for our students to learn and grow. In the architecture of Mercersburg’s day, students are surrounded by faculty and staff who are trained to notice changes in routine and look for signs, both physical and emotional, to ensure students are doing well in health and spirit while also encouraging independent growth and development appropriate for their age-level. We are proud of the program we’ve set forth and will continue to do our best to meet the needs of our students and community in an ever-changing and complex world.

The following outlines school policies and procedures that represent a snapshot of our current practices designed to support a healthy community culture. We review our practices annually and amend as necessary. If you wish to learn more about an area, please email the Office of Student Life.

The faculty’s first responsibility to our students begins in the classroom, but it never ends there. Our faculty take on other important roles, such as adviser, coach, dorm faculty, and concerned adult. To better understand, encourage, and support our students, faculty and staff participate in trainings and sessions, and hear speakers throughout the year.

  • New faculty orientation includes information on the following:
    • How and when to report suspected abuse
    • Confidentiality and privacy
    • Presentations regarding safety and security of students and the community
    • Residential life topics and training (i.e., bullying, social media, sleep)
    • Immediate topics of concern to community (i.e., emergency response, student alcohol/drug use, respectful behavior, boundaries)

  • Annual meetings to examine topics related to safety and security of students (i.e., FCD/ Freedom from Chemical Dependency, faculty/staff and student meetings at opening of school).

  • Employee Handbook distributed to each faculty member electronically and updated each year.

  • Ongoing faculty and staff training includes:
    • Mandated Reporter Training: Under Pennsylvania Act 126 and 31, all school employees are considered mandated reporters and are required to complete training that consists of a three-hour webinar. This training is updated every five years.
    • Boundary training
    • CPR
    • Suicide prevention training
    • Emergency response procedures
    • Concussion prevention and awareness
    • Recognizing stress, anxiety, and other emotional “red flags”
    • Faculty training sessions and workshops on campus relating to issues of safety, security, emotional well-being, and more.

  • A list of campus speakers from the past four years is located here. Many of our speakers offer topics that help to expand faculty and staff training. Recent speakers include:
    • Gregory Boyle;  author (Tattoos on the Heart), Catholic priest, founder of Homeboy Industries (the world’s largest gang-rehabilitation program)
    • Hakeem Rahim; mental-health speaker, educator, and advocate
    • Angie Thomas; best-selling author, The Hate U Give
    • Robert Sapolsky; science/nature writer, MacArthur “Genius” Fellow, author of books on stress/biology/depression/religion
    • Matthew Vines; author/expert on homosexuality and Christian tradition
    • Paul Tough; How Children Succeed: Grit, Curiosity and the Hidden Power of Character
    • Jonathan Haidt; author, social psychologist, expert on happiness and building healthy communities
    • Josh Shipp; teen expert, TV personality, author; inspires teens to make good choices and understand ramifications of their actions and behavior
    • Jonah Lehrer; bestselling author (How We Decide), psychologist, contributing editor at Wired magazine
    • Jessica Lahey; author of The Gift of Failure
    • Derrick Gay; internationally recognized consultant on issues of diversity, inclusion, and global citizenship
    • Peggy Orenstein; author, Girls and Sex
    • Laurence Steinberg; author of Age of Opportunity and one of the world’s leading experts on adolescence
    • Rosalind Wiseman; author, Queen Bees and Wannabes
    • Dr. Kristen Swanson; author, Learning in the Digital Age
    • Richard Gerver; author, Change and Creating Tomorrow’s Schools Today
    • Dr. Scott Barry Kaufman; psychologist and author, Wired to Create and Ungifted: Intelligence Redefined
    • Dr. David Yeager; expert in grit and growth mindset, professor of development psychology at University of Texas, Austin
    • Stanley H. King Counseling Institute
    • Lesley Morgan Steiner; author and thought leader on overcoming adversity and surviving violence against women
    • JoAnn Deak; author and psychologist, expert on the neuroscience of the adolescent brain
    • John Medina; author and scientist, expert on brain science and the learning process
    • Alfie Kohn; author, educational expert, and researcher on the effectiveness of assessments and homework
    • Robert Brooks; author and psychologist, expert on resilience.