The advisory structure in Old Trail’s middle school seeks to give students the comfort of having a specified teacher, working on her/his/ behalf. The advisor attempts to galvanize trust and cooperation with his/her advisee, cultivating student advocacy at school.
Just as parents sit down and talk to their children about hopes and short-term academic goals, advisors will mirror that activity in advisory sessions. The advisor and the student will take time away from their own family-sized group (a 1:8 advisor to student ratio) to dream dreams, and make commitments about the unfolding school year. During the first and third quarters, all middle school teachers from each grade-level come together to share their views of individual student progress. Insights known and gained are shared at subsequent semi-annual parent-advisor-student conferences. Above and beyond the integration of advisory into the All School Discipline Plan, and the parent conferencing, it is the advocacy and sense of in loco parentis that makes this advisory group organization of students exciting to teachers.
Middle School's established and evolving advisory organization assures parent-teacher engagement. Advisory programming focuses on the individual and his/her place in the group and other communities. It is in the advisory setting—a comfortable, familial community—where students can best create and practice altruism, and celebrate diversity. Whether students are engaged with the advisor to mediate reasonable consequences for unreasonable behavior, or whether that advisory group is exploring an ethical issue that has global and personal implications, parents can be assured that at the core of the program is the School’s desire to assure individual difference in an environment of thoughtfulness and understanding.