Thornton Academy News

  • Upper School
Featured Faculty: Ari Hadiaris-—School Social Worker and Cross-Country Coach!

Ari Hadiaris has been a school social worker at TA since 2010. She spends most of her time meeting with students or families, sometimes offering social, emotional, or mental health support. At other times,  she helps students and families access resources and get their needs met. She also works with the social work team and visits classrooms to talk about mental health or to assist with challenging conversations. 

Ms. Hadiaris completed her undergraduate degree at the University of Connecticut, and earned her master’s degree at Boston College. She knew she wanted to work in the realm of school counseling after completing a summer internship with a psychiatrist while at UCONN. “I had the opportunity to spend time with a psychiatrist, psychologist, and a social worker. Each field has a slightly different focus or angle, and I was most drawn to social work.”  Plus she loves working with students.

Ms. Hadiaris also spends time with students in her role as assistant coach for the girls and boys cross country teams. She loves working with TA’s cross-country runners and appreciates how kind they are, “Sometimes, your kids have to join you for practice; this picture of my team is from a day when my son was at practice a few years ago. The athletes were so amazing with him.“ 

Thank you for dedicating your time and energy to the wellbeing of TA students, Ms. Hadiaris. Your focus on social and emotional health, and the overall safety of each student makes such a difference in the lives of all who benefit from your support. Our school community is better because of your tremendous care and concern. 

What is the best thing about teaching at TA? 
There are a lot of wonderful things about working at TA. I was at home zooming with a student while we were remote last week. I suddenly felt almost overwhelmed by the fact that I have the opportunity to get to know students in such a personal way. It sounds so cheesy but it’s such a gift. There are other things too, like working with dear friends and a beautiful open campus. 

What is the most challenging?
The most challenging thing about my role is that it can be heavy. Students are dealing with real world things, just like we all are. It can be hard to sit with someone that just had a loss or a significant mental health concern. The pandemic has exacerbated many things including mental health needs and economic challenges. Access to basic needs has been a bigger issue this year than any other in my memory. 

What is your favorite teaching memory? 
Again, sounds super cheesy but I really love the hearing about small little moments of progress. For example, I had a student with debilitating social anxiety. We had a plan that involved these little steps culminating in reaching out to a friend. It sounds insignificant but it was so cool to watch confidence build. 
I’m working with a student that is graduating this year that is without a doubt the most resilient person I’ve ever met. She is completely amazing. I’ve watched her deal with so much and continue to work so hard. 
I guess my favorite memories are actually people – oh and chaperoning the German exchange! That was so much fun! 

What do you hope for your students?  
I hope they get off their phones! I’m kidding, kind of. For the record, I also need to get off my phone. 

What do you hope for the future of TA? 
I hope we continue the work we’ve started around diversity and inclusion. It feels like a critical step given our current national climate.

Faculty Fun Facts!
Food: All things breakfast – I love breakfast! 
Book: My current list is profoundly nerdy. Right now, I’m reading Insight Meditation by Joseph Goldstein. My favorite book from the last few years is Meditation for Fidgety Skeptics by Dan Harris. See what I mean? Nerdy!
Movie: I’ve had the same best friend since third grade. We would watch Jurassic Park on repeat. I joke that it’s still my favorite movie. I literally cannot turn it off when it’s on. She lives across the country now but was visiting when the last Jurassic World movie came out. We went twice.