The Anneliese Odyssey


Honoring the Unique Self

“Who am I? Where do I belong? How can I express myself?” These questions are at the center of the adolescent’s development. Our intention at TAO is to empower students to value who they are, to learn to trust themselves, and tend to what is happening on the inside. We practice being courageously authentic by being honest about our thoughts and feelings. 

Discovering what makes us unique, and building a healthy sense of self, is a journey that requires developing the skills of self-exploration and self-reflection. Yet we are not born with these skills; we must develop them through guidance and encouragement. 

At TAO, we support students on their journeys of self-discovery with deliberate attention. We utilize a variety of tools from the worlds of developmental psychology, mindfulness practices, and coaching, to help students begin to identify the unique attributes of their personalities, their strengths, and areas for growth. We learn about the relationship between individual personality and the community. We explore how to become healthy communicators through the study of non-violent communication.  

Self-discovery and community are tethered together: Mindful of the need to belong, we unlock these conversations within a community setting, discussing the basic needs and feelings we may share in common, and giving one another courage to be honest. 

At TAO, nurturing the Self means many things. Within the context of self-discovery, it means cultivating the confidence and communication skills to express oneself authentically. Within the context of our TAO Community, it means contributing one’s voice to collective discussion and shared decision-making, and being validated through supportive relationships with peers and staff.  The daily ritual of Community helps our students develop a sense of belonging as they experiment with bringing their opinions to the group. We also integrate basic mindfulness practices into Community Meetings. Within the context of our curriculum, it means being empowered to express oneself by choosing coursework, designing projects, and nurturing one’s unique passions.