The Verdict Is In: School Uniforms Raise Self Esteem

Dr. Karen Rezach

Dr. Karen Rezach, Director of The Middle School and The Ethics Institute at Kent Place School

Having just celebrated the last day of summer marking the beginning of fall, my thoughts turn to the start of the school year and everything that means to parents and their children. Back-to-school shopping for clothes can be especially trying for teens and their parents.Three years ago I interviewed Dr. Karen Rezach, Director of the Middle School and The Ethics Institute at Kent Place School and we talked about the value of wearing school uniforms. I realize that our conversation is as relevant today as it was then. Much has changed in three years – the sons I reference are now 20 and 17! – but what hasn’t changed is the pressure that teens feel and how wearing uniforms can be a release from that pressure. I went into the TFIO archives to bring back this important conversation with Dr. Rezach … for you …

My two sons go to public schools; one is in 8th grade, the other is a senior in high school. They don’t wear school uniforms and I have been curious about what life would be like for them if they did. Especially for my younger son who is in his early teens and at an impressionable and vulnerable age. I spoke with Dr. Karen Rezach, Director of the Middle School and The Ethics Institute at Kent Place School, an all-girls school from Kindergarten through the 12th Grade. We talked about the role of uniforms and why they are so important for the self-image of the students of Kent Place School. Dr. Rezach also helped me to see why this is not just about clothing and the choices our children make. It goes much deeper. She is a formidable woman and I must confess that I was a bit nervous before our conversation but the minute we started talking, I knew that I had come to the right person:

MKG: Kent Place School has adopted a “uniforms with choice,” platform from Kindergarten through the 8th grade. How does that differ from a basic uniform?

Dr. Rezach: It’s a question of Kent Place School’s mission. Traditional uniforms were not in line with the mission of Kent Place to develop independent leaders. We chose to offer choice for our students; in the color of the tops and in the different styles of skirts and pants – offering the students a degree of self-expression as well as maintaining a sensitivity to all body types.

MKG: Why do you think wearing uniforms is so important, especially for girls and younger teens?

Dr. Rezach: There is so much pressure on young people today, everything is “Like Me” on Facebook. What kids are wearing becomes a big issue; they are often judged and made fun of. In addition, there is a broad-range of economic backgrounds among our student community which may affect clothing choices. And wearing uniforms creates a mindset for students and a seriousness of purpose to their academic study: They know they are in school and they are here to learn. For all of these reasons, wearing uniforms is a valuable aspect to their life at school. Continue reading

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Move over moto – the elusive “get” is the varsity jacket!

The elusive "get" for a teenager: the Varsity Jacket

The elusive “get” for a teenager: the varsity jacket

If you’re a teen, there is one item of clothing highly coveted: the varsity jacket. Perhaps it’s because I am reading Ilene Beckerman’s book, Love, Loss, and What I Wore, which I reference here, but I have been thinking a lot about what clothes mean to us at certain times in our lives. And so there was an interesting moment during my morning walk, when I saw three high-school-aged girls walking ahead of me. At first glance I thought one of the girls was wearing a varsity football jacket and assumed it had been given to her by her boyfriend. Continue reading

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“I grew up in Paris, near The Galeries Lafayette”

Emilie-Rose

Emilie-Rose

In honor of National French Week, organized by the American Association of Teachers of French, meet Emilie-Rose, a 22-year old, who was born and has lived most of her life in Paris. Now living in Canterbury, England (an hour outside of London) while she attends her last year of University, Emilie-Rose and I talked about how the French view fashion and style and beauty and what is what like growing up in the fashion capital of the world …

Here is Emilie-Rose

Growing up in Paris, I was always aware not only of fashion, but of shops and shopping. We live in a part of Paris that is very near the huge department stores, like Galeries Lafayette and Printemps. I have always been really girly, even from a young age. I went to an International bilingual school and looking back at it now, I wish I had been required to wear a uniform. There was a lot of pressure to dress a certain way and many of the students were from wealthy backgrounds and could afford to wear high-brand designer labels. It was tough … Continue reading

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The verdict is in: School uniforms raise teen self-esteem

Dr. Karen Rezach, Director of

Dr. Karen Rezach, Director of The Middle School and The Ethics Institute at Kent Place School

My two sons go to public schools; one is in 8th grade, the other is a senior in high school. They don’t wear school uniforms and I have been curious about what life would be like for them if they did. Especially for my younger son who is in his early teens and at an impressionable and vulnerable age. I spoke with Dr. Karen Rezach, Director of the Middle School and The Ethics Institute at Kent Place School, an all-girls school from Kindergarten through the 12th Grade. We talked about the role of uniforms and why they are so important for the self-image of the students of Kent Place School. Dr. Rezach also helped me to see why this is not just about clothing and the choices our children make. It goes much deeper. She is a formidable woman and I must confess that I was a bit nervous before our conversation but the minute we started talking, I knew that I had come to the right person.

Here is my conversation with Dr. Rezach:

MKG: Kent Place School has adopted a “uniforms with choice,” platform from Kindergarten through the 8th grade. How does that differ from a basic uniform?

Dr. Rezach: It’s a question of Kent Place School’s mission. Traditional uniforms were not in line with the mission of Kent Place to develop independent leaders. Continue reading

Your thoughts?

I love comments. Feel free to share yours