Alumni Profile: Sally Meehan—Athletics, Academics, and the Value of Her Own Time

“Much of my work in college is actually more similar to my Inly education than high school was. Both Inly and college focus on long term projects, preparation for in-depth class discussion, and conceptual learning.”

Meehan, a 2004 graduate of Inly is a diligent student and a top athlete, and traces her success all the way back to her days in the little Middle School on Watch Hill Drive.

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High school, Meehan says, focused on finding the “right answer,” whereas Inly taught her to find her own answer and defend it, a skill she relies on heavily as an undergraduate.

“I’ve found that being able to articulate what I think and form strong opinions (rather than regurgitate something I read in a text book) has been incredibly helpful. I think Inly helped teach me that this way of thinking was acceptable.  My teachers encouraged me to believe in my own intellectual ability and to push my brain past what a text book tells me is right or wrong. In college, these skills have aided me in never settling. I constantly push my own ideas to the next level.”

Meehan can’t swear she wasn’t born with innate characteristics that have helped her, she says, but she is certain that whatever she had, Inly nurtured.

“I can’t tell if I am naturally a creative and critical thinker, or if Inly ingrained these skills in my brain. I can’t help but believe that by honing in on these skills at such a young age that they naturally became the way I think all of the time. I utilize independent study skills every day in college.”

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So how did that transition go—from Inly, to Cohasset High School, and later to college?

“I think transitioning into high school is tough in some way for everyone, not just Inly kids. That being said, I was more than ready for what high school had in store for me academically.”

Meehan says that her position in the top 10% of Cohasset High’s 2008 graduating class was earned beginning in Freshman year.  “I was more than sufficiently prepared (academically) for high school, and the way I learned at Inly allowed me to be independent and creative from the start.”

“My social adjustment was more difficult. I found great friends fast (my high school friends are still the best I have), but high school was a little busier than I had originally perceived.  Inly provided me with a strong moral compass that allowed me to make my own decisions, and not be persuaded by my peers.  I found a great group of friends quickly, and I know most of my graduating class (from Inly) had the same good fortune.”

Another huge benefit to Meehan in making the transition to Cohasset High School was her long time participation in town athletics.

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“Sports have always been a very important part of my life,” says Colby college sophomore and Inly alumna Sally Meehan.  “I’ve always been heavily involved in many different [athletics], and have played both field hockey and tennis at the college level.”

“Although Inly did not directly provide me with sports, it was not detrimental to my ability to participate in as many as I wanted,” Meehan says.

“When I attended Inly, although we did have fitness as an elective, there were no organized sports like there are now.”  Meehan knew she loved athletics, and with support from the school and her parents, sought ways to feed her passions, joining the Cohasset softball, tennis, basketball leagues, and the swim team and diving teams.

“Like many Montessori families, when I was in sixth grade (after being at Inly since toddler) we had to decide whether or not I would stay at Inly for middle school, or transition. I could not be more happy that my parents saw the opportunities that Inly would allow for me and had me stay all the way through. None of my public school friends had the experiences I was granted at Inly.  I formed relationships that have exceeded the six years since I have attended Inly.

“I strive at college to have the bonds with my professors that I had (and still have) with many of my Inly teachers. So many kids I have gone to school with in high school and college view teachers as people assigned to give them grades, and keep them from spending their time the way they want to.  I believe that at Inly you learn fast that your teachers are people too; people that want nothing but the best for you. They have dedicated their lives to teaching because it’s what they love. As an Inly student, I learned to tap into that. In my second year at Colby, I am beginning to form great relationships with my professors.”

In the end, it seems that Meehan’s strongest connection with the school is about time, and the way the school let her manage her own, and how those values continue to drive Meehan to achieve.

“I still find that Inly’s ability to tailor an education just for me, helped me tune in with my interests and skills far before my public school friends. Inly presented me with opportunities to explore academia as well as the real world (through trips, internships, and experiential learning) that I never would have had in a bigger, more formal institution.”

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