The Gift of Failure

“I’ve missed more than 9000 shots in my career.  I’ve lost almost 300 games.  26 times I’ve been trusted to take the game winning shot and missed.  I’ve failed over and over and over again in my life. And that is why I succeed.”  – Michael Jordan

As parents and educators, we are understandably focused on helping our children achieve their fullest potential. Also understandably, that focus can cause both parents, educators and students to feel occasional anxiety! As your daughter’s school psychologist, I strive to help students find perspective and build Resilience (culture of competence and independence), our yearlong featured core value. We can work together to show our girls that we value the learning process- praising the brave struggle and not simply the score or final product. We can help them find ways to use and apply their knowledge. We at The Academy at Penguin Hall instill a culture of competence and independence and at times that means allowing our girls to face a setback and learn from their mistakes.

Our job is not to protect our children from failure, but to give them coping tools and skills when they face a setback. Through one’s mistakes and failures, we learn to solve problems and grow. In her book “The Gift of Failure,” Jessica Lahey says, “To help children succeed, we must allow them to fail” and offers key suggestions including;

  • Offering support and not control
  • Help our girls set their own goals
  • Treat failures as opportunities for growth
  • Realize that every “rescue” or intervention is a lesson lost
  • Give our children jobs and duties to practice and to contribute

We have these high school years to teach our girls at APH to be competent, secure and healthy. At times, that means that we need to share our stories of struggle and step back. We need to allow these bright young women to find unique ways to solve problems as they arise.

Yet even resilient young women and their supportive parents sometimes need help navigating the issues that occur as part of life, and as part of school. Here at APH, we have a wonderful team of people to support your daughter and this is a safe place to fail! As part of that team, my role as the school psychologist allows me to be here as a counselor to offer guidance in academic concerns, as well as social-emotional needs.

I can be reached at and by phone (978) 468-6200 ext. 1011.

Mary holds a BS in Elementary and Special Education from Lesley College in Cambridge, an MED in Counseling and a CAGS  from The University of Massachusetts, Boston.