In the fall of 2000, Millbrook School inaugurated a Human Development curriculum for all IVth form (10th grade) students. The program's goals are to foster cooperation, communication, and respect for individual differences throughout the community, and to help each student accomplish the developmental tasks of adolescence including identity, wellness, core values, and decision-making. Its aim is to help students better understand issues of image and identity and to make healthy choices in the areas of nutrition, relationships, anger management, sexuality, and drug and alcohol use.
The Human Development program is overseen by Ann Matthews LCSW, long-time director of counseling. It is staffed by six trained faculty members and twelve peer counselors, carefully selected students from the Vth and VIth forms. Participating faculty members and peer counselors return to school a week early in September for intensive training on the issues that are discussed with IVth form students.
The program kicks off at Camp Jewel during the first weekend of the school year as the faculty and student instructors integrate both new and returning IVth formers. They divide into small groups of approximately ten students who continue to meet with the same faculty member and two peer counselors throughout the school year. The form meets twice weekly for regularly scheduled Human Development classes during the academic day. Often, the first class of the week is a presentation for the entire form, while the second is a small group meeting in faculty apartments or other spaces that help foster a non-academic atmosphere and encourage students to feel safe in sharing their personal observations and concerns. Faculty and student counselors are trained to facilitate discussion rather than instruct in the traditional sense.