Merion Mercy Academy Institutes Holistic Student Review Process

Merion Mercy Academy takes pride in its commitment to cultivating well-rounded students—a hallmark of the private school experience. Recognizing the significance of going beyond traditional academics, MMA embraces a holistic approach that encompasses artistic expression, athletics, and co-curricular activities to foster comprehensive student development. Central to this ethos is the establishment of the Holistic Student Review Process, a distinctive initiative designed to ensure that students fully engage with the diverse array of opportunities available to them.

Led by Sister Danielle Gagnon, RSM, the Director of Mission, Ministry, and Belonging, and Maya Johnson ‘12, Director of Diversity, Equity, Inclusion, and Belonging, the Holistic Student Review Process also gauges their sense of belonging within the Merion Mercy community.

Gagnon explains the genesis of this novel process: "During course selection, students meet with our academic team to discuss their progress. It occurred to me that we needed a way to do the same for co-curricular and student engagement."

Commencing in the 2023-2024 school year, the process began with individual meetings between freshmen and Gagnon or Johnson. Students are prompted to catalog their involvement in various activities both within and outside the academy, encompassing commitments such as travel sports teams, part-time jobs, or participation in external clubs and organizations. This detailed information allows Gagnon and Johnson to identify students at risk of overcommitting or those not participating in activities outside academics. In such cases, the directors offer personalized suggestions and connections to help broaden the students' experiences.

An integral component of the process involves students rating their sense of belonging on a scale of one to five. Recognizing the challenges faced in adapting to a new school environment, Johnson emphasizes, "As freshmen, we encourage them to go gently into the many changes they face. We explain to them that a sense of belonging will continue to grow as they become more involved in Merion Mercy Academy’s many opportunities."

In these individual conversations, students also share the highlights of their Merion Mercy Academy experience. Notably, many cite the teachers as the most impactful aspect of their journey, underscoring the exceptional support provided by the faculty.

Ultimately, the Holistic Student Review Process serves as a conduit to ensure that students establish a connection with Gagnon and Johnson as valuable resources. Gagnon emphasizes, "Whether you need us tomorrow or the day before graduation, we are here for you." This commitment reflects Merion Mercy Academy's dedication to nurturing not only academic excellence but also the holistic growth and well-being of each student.

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