By Meagan Pruitt
From Utah to Virginia, Nani Moskal (‘08) has traveled over 2,000 miles, bringing change to children’s lives.
After graduating from the University of Mary Washington, Moskal moved to Wyoming to make strides concerning her passion for psychotherapy. For the last two years, Moskal worked with at-risk kids at Second Nature, a wilderness therapy camp in Salt Lake City, Utah. These individuals received group and one-on-one therapy with the counselors, while they engaged in schoolwork. They learned wilderness and camping skills; they also developed respectful communication skills and how to cope with their struggles from home.
“It’s really cool to see them come together from different issues and challenges,” Moskal said, “and to see them work through that.”
While she enjoyed being wilderness counselor in the West, it came with some sacrifices --one of which was the living arrangements. With an apartment two hours away from camp, Moskal lived two separate lives. When she was working, she stayed up to eight days at a time at the camp. During this period, she had to give up being in contact with her loved ones back in Virginia.
Due to this inconvenience with her schedule, Moskal decided it was time for a change. At this same time, Sarah Hill made the switch from the school’s Guidance Counselor to working in a similar department at Carilion Clinic. After Headmaster Dr. Christian J. Proctor mentioned the open position to Moskal’s mother, she realized this was the chance to change from her nomadic lifestyle to the one she was more familiar with.
“Knowing that I was looking at grad schools for something similar and that I had been doing a lot of therapeutic work out in Utah, I wondered if that was something I’d be interested in,” Moskal said. “And it just worked out perfectly with the timing. I had to quickly move everything from Utah to here, but it just worked out really well with my schedule. I couldn’t have pictured anything else to work out better, so it just happened by fate I think.”
At the beginning of February, Moskal began to teach a guidance class in the Lower School and health education for 6th graders. Currently, the lower schoolers are learning whether or not they should handle certain things on their own and the magnitude of tattling. The young middle schoolers are discussing the importance of time management between sports, musical rehearsals and other extra-curricular activities. They have covered electronics use, since iPads have become a key learning tool at North Cross, and how to behave appropriately in all types of relationships, specifically teacher-student relationships.
“It’s different having her back home. She has been gone for the past six years so it’s kind of weird having her back home,” said Sterling Moskal (‘15), Moskal’s second youngest brother. “I don’t ever see her at school so it’s not any different than it was before she started working at school.”
Because of her history in Utah, she has been able to share those life tools and teach them with students here on campus. Moskal’s main goal is to achieve respect: for everyone to get along with one another and to communicate respectfully.
“As humans, we all have that ability to improve how we talk to each other,” Moskal said, “or how we interact with each other on a daily basis.”
While she is mainly a teacher for the lower and middle school, she is available for the upper school as a counselor too. She is usually present at assemblies and meetings as well. For people who need someone to listen to her, she is available in the mornings: Monday and Wednesday at 8:30-10:15 and Thursday and Friday at 10:15-11:30; as for afternoons, she’s available on Monday and Thursday at 2:30-3:30 and Wednesday through Friday at 1:30-3:30.
At Second Nature, drug addictions was one of many issues teenagers were dealing with. With her history in assisting people with these issues there, Moskal is able and willing to help teenagers, so they don’t have to move out West.
“To any students involved with or struggling with drug addiction, first and foremost I would say I can only offer advice to those who are open and ready for help,” Moskal said. “For those seeking advice, you are not alone. And no matter what drug, how long, or how severe the addiction, there is always a way out (and someone to help). Never, ever be afraid or embarrassed to ask for help.”