Social and Emotional Learning: Donavan’s Story
In 2012, Donavan enrolled at Milton Hershey School at the end of his seventh grade year. Now a senior, Donavan has found his passion for the arts and athletics—and is developing social and emotional learning skills in the process.
He participates in the school’s various dance ensembles, New Horizons choir, Junior Chapel choir, Gospel Choir, color guard, the track and field team, and even serves as a leader for the seniors’ Play60 exercise group.
“Ever since I came to MHS, all I’ve been hearing is how it’s good to get involved. During my freshman year, I had a few behavioral issues,” Donavan explained. “My mom and a couple friends encouraged me to get involved so I wouldn’t get into trouble. I’ve kept at it ever since. If I’m busy, I don’t have time to make any dumb mistakes.”
How does he balance his long list of responsibilities, including his schoolwork, extra-curricular activities, household chores, and nightly devotionals? Donavan follows a strict schedule and has learned to prioritize.
“It can definitely be difficult, but recently, I started writing all of my responsibilities and activities in a calendar so I don’t forget anything,” he said.
Through Milton Hershey School’s Transitional Living program—designed to help seniors develop important life skills through apartment-style living—Donavan has become even more independent and self-sufficient.
“The TL program taught me how to be on my own and take care of my own responsibilities,” Donavan said. “In the student home, [houseparents] helped make sure we got our homework done each night. In TL, you have to rely on yourself [to get things done].”
Donavan’s sense of independence and ability to make smart decisions are skills he will carry with him after graduation. He also credits his peers and the group living environment at MHS for enhancing his social intelligence and his respect for people’s differences.
“I’m well-rounded and can be friends with anybody, even if they’re totally different,” he added. “I’ve learned how to be social with everyone and adapt to groups of people while staying true to myself.”
With a strong foundation in social and emotional learning, and a positive outlook on his future, Donavan plans to attend Point Park University in Pittsburgh to major in business with a minor in dance. While he admits to being excited but nervous to leave MHS, he is confident in his ability to adapt to new surroundings, cope with homesickness, and manage his time.