Thoughts from Jen: Curiosity & Compassion

Jen Horschman, FBRA Girls Program Director


At FBRA we build character; it is part of our mission. However, it is one thing to state it and quite another to share the secret sauce, to explain how it’s really done.

We know the teenage brain rewires during adolescence, making new synaptic connections all the time. Middle school experiences influence these new brain pathways. It is in this dynamic state of mind and body where the foundation is laid for character construction. Through three years of FBRA experiences, our graduates walk away with a solid sense of knowing who they are and expand their ability to interact with others with integrity.

As seen in the FBRA Experamid, curiosity is one of our key character traits. Curiosity drives learning of all sorts by opening minds to new perspectives and motivation to explore. In our curricula, Essential Questions (big-idea, open ended questions) cultivate curiosity across academic units. For example, What does it mean to be an American? is an essential question in our 8th grade humanities class. Questions and answers spark other questions and reasonings that over time help our students to develop a healthy moral compass to engage with and accept differences and deal with change. 

Another core character trait on the Experamid is compassion. We are intentional about creating a compassionate culture as friendships frequently ebb and flow during adolescence. Challenges surface: comparing, feeling judged, having a setback, making a mistake, not being perfect. We make time to process feelings by teaching students in life skills class and advisory groups how to use a conflict management tool called CFOR: My Concern is . . . I Feel . . . Ownership (my part in this) . . . My Request is . . . . Community meetings and group debrief circles happen where students can feel validated, voice a concern, share a differing opinion, or amplify another student’s voice. Students learn that everyone shines at FBRA through open conversations and working to understand others in a structured method and safe environment.

So an abundance of curiosity and compassion help our students to fulfill our mission of creating a lifetime of learning, service, and leadership. We dedicate ourselves to the Salamander Sisterhood. We all shine together!