There is a low murmur of voices, occasionally punctuated by laughter. Students work on laptops and tablets, heads bending closer together as they begin to tackle their first assignments of the year. In quieter corners, some students work individually, sketching, typing or reviewing assignments and schedules. Though it’s the first block of the day on the second day of the new school year, a few seniors are already in study hall, sipping coffee and getting a head start on assignments.
Chanel Nijmeh, The Marin School’s director of learning services, is at the core of this bustling universe, quietly working with a student TA to put together a course syllabus. She takes a few minutes to check in with a nearby table of students to give guidance about writing an Honors English essay. Also circulating among the students is math specialist Steph Lapine, who offers support to students getting back up to speed with precalculus after the summer break.
To call this a “study hall” is something of a misnomer. Often, what happens here is more of an “active support session,” or an opportunity for students to collaborate outside of class. Students who find organization and time management challenging can learn new strategies such as how to break an assignment down into small, manageable chunks, or how to use a color-coded planner to stay on top of homework.
But more than anything, study hall is often the place where a student’s relationship with school and classwork can experience a shift from something that feels stressful or contentious into a process that feels productive and positive. The adjacent Learning Center is where this happens in an even more intensive and individualized way.
With guidance and support aimed at growing agency and self-reliance, students discover what tools are most effective and, therefore, which study skills to hone and improve. But it isn’t merely through learning effective strategies that TMS students find confidence and success; it is also through the relationships they build with TMS’ Learning Services team, and with each other. Creating an environment that feels comfortable and conducive to collaboration allows students to grow in confidence and discover their voices.
“Without a doubt, the most rewarding part of my job is watching students experience success — whatever that might mean or look like for them,” says Nijmeh. “During my time at The Marin School, I’ve seen firsthand the transformation that occurs when students feel like they belong. Watching my students grow in confidence and find their voice brings me a lot of joy.”
To learn more about connecting your student with the kind of support they need to thrive, visit The Marin School’s website.