Overview of Counseling Services

The counseling & wellness department at Rivers reflects the school’s relational approach to student development within a community in which students are known, valued, and understood. School counselors embody the Rivers Excellence with Humanity philosophy by getting to know individual students who seek counseling and then tailoring therapeutic treatment to meet each student’s needs. This may take the form of short-term support, ongoing therapy, student/family outreach and advocacy, and/or team collaboration. Counseling services are provided by trained mental-health professionals and comply with national standards of care. The Rivers School counselors take a proactive and preventative approach to both direct counseling services and systems-level interventions, as part of a comprehensive school-counseling program that both helps individual students build skills and enhances the emotional climate of the school environment. School counselors collaborate as part of a larger Rivers wellness team to promote student well-being at the individual, grade, school division, and community levels.

The counseling & wellness department at Rivers works to enhance the many systems of support that are ingrained into the school’s culture, such as the advisory program, DEI initiatives, and student-life programming. At The Rivers School, wellness education for all students and voluntary individual counseling services complement one another. School counselors collaborate with the student advisory system, the school nurse, athletic trainers, and the deans’ office to promote student well-being at multiple levels within the Rivers school, student, and family communities. 

The department, in partnership with McLean School Consultation Service, provides multi-tiered and targeted services to equip individual students with the skills and sense of well-being needed to meet the high expectations of The Rivers School, while cultivating a school-wide culture of positive mental health in which all students can thrive. Please click here to learn more about Rivers’s partnership with McLean School Consultation Service, launched in fall 2021

Overview of Wellness Programming

Research-based prevention programs promote healthy development by focusing on children and their main socializing environment, school. At Rivers, these “life skills” educational wellness programs are implemented in classroom settings, at school-level or grade-level assemblies, and through “opt-in” programming during students’ non-academic times. Regardless of specific content, all wellness programs encourage students to integrate accurate information with their personal and family values in order to make healthy decisions as well as to help students learn to access adult supports in appropriate ways.

Division-specific Wellness Programming:

List of 2 items.

  • Middle School

    Middle School wellness classes are woven into the grade-level curricula and are also taught through advisory programming and in grade-wide meetings. Middle school wellness education covers topics including social skills and healthy relationships (communication, healthy conflict, and boundaries and consent in the context of friendships and any peer relationships), individual biological development (puberty and hygiene, nutrition and body image), and substance use and abuse prevention.
  • Upper School

    • Upper School wellness programs include: 
      • A semester-long ninth-grade Wellness Seminar course
        • One 75-minute class (single academic block) per week, through which students build a shared foundation of health, wellness, and life skills. The goal of this foundational course is to promote students’ physical, mental, emotional, and relational well-being and to minimize behaviors that put students’ health or safety at risk. By meeting once a week over their first semester as high school students, ninth graders share in learning the facts that they will need to consider in order to make informed decisions that align with their personal goals and values throughout adolescence. 
      • Division-specific programming during non-academic times on topics including mental-health literacy and skills for navigating normative stress, worry, and sadness; athlete mental health; nutrition and body image; mindfulness and self-care; substance use and abuse prevention; healthy relationships.
      • Senior post-secondary transition programming aimed at ensuring all graduates revisit their understanding of risk and protective factors in the context of becoming legal adults and transitioning to living more independently. 
        • Topics covered include:
          • Healthy vs. unhealthy relationships: consent, communication, boundaries, and power dynamics, in partnership with One Love and Speak About It
          • Substance use and abuse prevention, in partnership with the Clay Soper Memorial Fund
          • Mental health literacy, in partnership with Mental Health CollaborativeWorkshops on anti-racism, redefining masculinity, restorative justice, gender violence prevention, consent, and sexual health facilitated by scholar, educator, and activist Duane de Four

Meet the Counseling & Wellness Team

List of 8 members.

  • Photo of Sarah Knortz

    Sarah Knortz 

    School Counselor
    339-686-4511
    Connecticut College - BA
    Harvard Graduate School of Education - Ed.M
    Bio
  • Photo of Eliza Adler

    Eliza Adler 

    School Counselor
    339-686-4504
    Middlebury College - BA
    BU School of Social Work - MSW
    Bio
  • Photo of John Bower

    John Bower 

    Head of Middle School
    339-686-2281
    Haverford College - BA
    Bio
  • Photo of James Long

    James Long 

    Assistant Head of School, Head of the Upper School
    339-686-2272
    Harvard Graduate School of Education - Ed.M.
    Bowdoin College - BA
    Bio
  • Photo of Myron Mentis

    Myron Mentis 

    Athletic Trainer, Science
    339-686-4583
    Northeastern University - BS
    Bio
  • Photo of William Mills

    William Mills 

    Upper School Dean of Students, History
    339-686-2429
    Connecticut College - BA
    Harvard University - ALM
    Bio
  • Photo of Claudia Silva

    Claudia Silva 

    School Nurse
    339-686-4480
    Simmons College - BS
    Bio
  • Photo of Sarah Freeman

    Sarah Freeman 

    MS Dean of Students, Science, Varsity Field Hockey/Girls' Lacrosse Asst. & MS Nordic Ski Head Coach
    339-686-4515
    Bowdoin College - BS
    Columbia University - MA