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Understanding Toxic Achievement Culture with Author Jennifer B. Wallace

On Jan. 30 and 31, author and journalist Jennifer B. Wallace visited St. Luke’s to discuss her book “Never Enough” and uncover the intricate layers of toxic achievement culture with parents/guardians, faculty/staff, and students. The event ties to St. Luke’s Strategic Plan Community Well-Being initiative.

The evening program was well attended by more than 100 parents and guardians from St. Luke’s and the New Canaan community. During the event, Head of School Dr. Mary Halpin Carter and Wallace explored the adverse effects of our achievement-focused society on children. 

The pair examined the concept of "mattering," finding the delicate balance between accomplishment and a healthy mindset. During the interview-style chat, Carter also asked Wallace why she chose to write about overachievement culture, her findings in her research, and how parents can help their kids become less stressed, healthy achievers. Wallace shared her findings and lots of great stories, defined mattering, and provided tips for how parents can show their kids that they matter.

The following day, Wallace, joined by special guest Dr. Sarah Bennison, Co-Founder and Chief Executive Officer of The Mattering Movement, met with faculty and staff to help them better understand the dynamics at play within a high-achieving culture and to provide tips for supporting students. 

Wallace then met with Middle School and Upper School students to talk more deeply about the risks of high-achieving cultures, the pressures students may feel during this stage of their lives, and healthy and unhealthy competition. Students engaged in a debrief lesson in Advisory, where they could unpack what they had heard and discuss strategies.

To see photos from Wallace’s visit, click here.
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St. Luke’s School is a secular (non-religious), private school in New Canaan, CT for grades 5 through 12 serving over 35 towns in Connecticut and New York. Our exceptional academics and diverse co-educational community foster students’ intellectual and ethical development and prepare them for top colleges. St. Luke’s Center for Leadership builds the commitment to serve and the confidence to lead.