Health & Wellness and Counseling

St. Paul’s School for Girls offers a comprehensive Grade V-XII Health & Wellness program called Discovery as well as comprehensive counseling and health support services.

Our mission is to promote and maintain a healthy school community that balances academic achievement with social, emotional and spiritual growth and development.

Grade VII Life Skills


Grade VII Life Skills is an interactive, trimester-long course designed to increase student knowledge and abilities in skills necessary for everyday living as a healthy adolescent.   Each student builds personal and social competency skills through individual and group activities as well as guided class discussions. Topics addressed include body image, understanding self and others, friendships, Internet safety, communication skills, media literacy, bullying, and human sexuality. The course is taught by Wendy Sunderlin, school counselor,  and is graded pass/fail.

The Christopher O’Neil Peer Education Program

The Peer Education Program is a health education program founded in 1992 by Tom and Pam O’Neil after the death of their 17-year-old son, Christopher, in a car accident involving a teenage drunk driver. The program is supported in 11 independent schools in the Baltimore region. SPSG has 25 peer educators, who receive training at a faculty-led retreat early in the school year.  They are then prepared to enter the Grade VI classrooms (about seven times during the year) and teach lessons about communication skills, body image, friendship making, responsible use of the internet and cell phones, and decision making.   Peer Educators meet with Grade VIII to discuss exams and transition to the Upper School.  In addition to the middle-school students, some peer educators are seniors who work with the Grade IX PLUS classes to discuss challenges that arise in upper school and how to effectively make life decisions.

Preparing for Life in the Upper School (PLUS)

Preparing for Life in the Upper School, or PLUS, is a semester-long course that combines health topics and life skills, and is taught by our school counselor.  PLUS topics and interactive discussions allow students to build knowledge and skills in order to become confident and empowered upper-school students at SPSG. The curriculum focuses on specific content areas such as conflict resolution, healthy relationships, self-esteem, teen anxiety/depression, body image, stress management, substance use prevention, college planning, and identity development.  

Counseling and Health Support Services

SPSG has on staff each day a licensed clinical professional counselor, a chaplain, an associate chaplain, and a registered school nurse.

Short-term counseling and pastoral care is available to all students.

Students can self-refer or be referred by an advisor, teacher, or parent. Support is offered for friendship issues, stress, loss and change, and peer conflict, as well as other adolescent concerns.  The SPSG Health & Wellness Departments uses a solution-focused approach, and the counselor or chaplain communicates with the parent as appropriate. The counselor may refer students to resources outside of school in order to meet her psychological, emotional, or social needs.

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Health & Wellness Faculty Includes:

Links to Helpful Parent Education Resources

Online / Cell Phone Use Resources: 

Drugs and Alcohol:

Health & Body Image:

Internet Safety:

Grief & Loss:

Communicating with your Teen:

Health & Wellness Curriculum offerings include:

  • Grade VI Peer Education Program
  • Grade VII Life Skills
  • Grade IX Preparing for Life in the Upper School (PLUS)
  • Grade X Health
  • Assemblies and Advisory for all grades

Annual Programs:

  • Brenda Conlan, Alcohol Prevention Specialist , spends a week at SPSG every March.
  • Chase Bannister, LCSW-C-of Carolina House , works with our students on body image, healthy eating, and eating disorders prevention.
  • Local clinicians and specialists talk to our students about topics such as anxiety, safety in relationships, change and loss, social networking, cognitive restructuring, and physical development and growth. 
  • Speakers in 2010-2011 came from: TurnAround Inc, Anxiety and Stress Disorders Institute, Jewish Community Services, Mercy Hospital, and Gilchrist Hospice, among others.

Programs for Parents:

  • Middle School Parent Forums - spring & fall offerings
  • Grade IX Parent/Student Nights
  • A variety of speakers on such topics as social networking, alcohol and drug prevention, and adolescent development.