New Staff Spotlight: Mrs. Bethany Migdal

Hometown: Milwaukee, WI
Education: University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee (Bachelor of Science in Education with an emphasis in English as a Second Language; Master of Science in Educational Psychology)
Hobbies: playing piano, hiking, exploring nature, traveling, spending time with friends and family

Bethany Migdal is finishing up her first year at St. Thomas More after joining the school’s student services department last August. Along with serving as the counselor for students with last names from M to Z, she moderates the EmpowHERd Girls’ Group, oversees the MORE Enrichment afterschool program, and participates in the school’s Diversity, Equity & Inclusion Committee.

Before coming to St. Thomas More, Migdal taught English as a Second Language (ESL) at a diverse set of Milwaukee-area schools: Alexander Mitchell Integrated Arts School in Milwaukee’s Muskego Way neighborhood, Whitnall High School in Greenfield, and South Milwaukee High School. She also spent two years teaching in Shenzhen, China.

But after eight years in the classroom, Migdal found herself more interested in forming relationships with her students than in the subject matter she was teaching. She decided to return to the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee to pursue a master’s degree in educational psychology with hopes of becoming a school counselor.

After working at Whitnall and South Milwaukee High Schools, which serve about 1,000 students each, Migdal was attracted to St. Thomas More’s smaller student body. With fewer students in her caseload, she can dedicate more time to building relationships with each child, learning about their unique interests, goals, and backgrounds. That extra time allows her to offer more than just academic assistance; Midgal can provide students with holistic, individualized guidance that they would be unlikely to receive at a larger school.

That holistic, individualized guidance often includes identifying students who may benefit from additional mental health services – a group that has grown significantly in recent years. The COVID-19 pandemic created unprecedented challenges for students, far beyond the often-referenced academic learning loss. Many children lost loved ones, from parents and grandparents to siblings and friends, leading their education and mental well-being to become secondary concerns. Further complicating matters, when schools closed to limit the virus’s spread, children lost their primary source of peer-to-peer social interaction. This lack of communication with friends and classmates, especially for students also grieving the loss of a loved one, worsened feelings of depression, anxiety, and isolation.

Migdal plans to make mental health a primary focus for the 2022-23 school year. She believes that by facilitating regular small-group discussions, students can learn from each other’s experiences and better address conflicts in their own lives. She has also connected with local health care organizations to evaluate what professional mental health care services may be available for St. Thomas More students. St. Thomas More anticipates offering some of these additional services starting next school year.

Leave a comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked.*

Translate »