Advisory Program Overview
The advisory program at Episcopal exists to promote personal and academic growth among EHS students, to provide continuous mentoring, advice, guidance, support and advocacy for each student throughout their EHS experience, and to strengthen the sense of community at school. Advisors facilitate communication with teachers and parents while striving to maintain a sense of each advisee’s academic and social progress during their full tenure at EHS.
The responsibilities of the advisor cover a wide range of activities. Advisors are responsible for endeavoring to create a rapport of trust with and awareness about each advisee; leading and teaching their respective advisory groups; maintaining an open line of communication between EHS and parents; supervising activities related to students’ four-year plans and semester schedules; and assisting in the supervision of a class during chapel.
Incoming freshmen are placed with a Freshman Advisor. Transferring sophomore, junior, and senior students who have newly arrived at EHS are placed into appropriate grade-level advisory groups. Each student’s interests, activities, prior connections, and special needs are considered in the placement process in an effort to create strong bonds between advisor and advisee.
- Communication between Parents and the Advisor
- Communication between the Advisor and the Individual Advisee
- The Advisory Group
- Changing Advisories
The relationship between the advisor and parents is just as important as the relationship between the advisor and the advisee. Both the advisor and the parents should seek to create a strong collaboration to support the advisee. The advisor is among those most likely to have a coherent overall picture of the advisee’s academic and social progress at EHS, and as such has the capacity to address concerns and questions from parents. Although individual teachers are the best source of information and possible solutions for individual classes, advisors read all progress reports and look for common issues arising in multiple classes. For instance, if a student is having difficulty completing assignments in one class, this issue may be arising in other classes as well. Advisors look for this type of pattern, check with the advisee’s teachers as necessary, and proactively contact parents when such a pattern occurs.
Direct communication between the parent and teacher can often clarify a situation and resolve conflicts within a specific class, but if parents have concerns that persist beyond this initial contact, the next step should be to contact the appropriate department chair. Advisors should be included in these communications so that they are kept apprised of situations and are able to participate in creating strategies to resolve them. If the issue remains unresolved after the teacher and department head have been contacted, the advisor may refer the parent to the Academic Dean or the Assistant Head of School.
At regular intervals, students will meet individually with the advisor to discuss academic, behavioral, and social concerns of the advisee and advisor, as well as those coming from teachers, parents, and administrators. These meetings are often timed to occur shortly after quarterly grading periods, so that current information about progress in each class will be at hand. During these meetings, students discuss concerns and celebrations, goals and strategies for improvement, and overall academic performance, attendance, discipline, and involvement in activities outside the classroom. As advocates and sources of support for their advisees, advisors are expected to address behavioral matters, helping their advisees to adjust and learn from inappropriate behaviors and expressing support and encouragement for positive, appropriate behaviors. Whenever an advisor receives a progress report, the advisor will confer with the student about possible solutions to problems, reinforce positive behaviors and demonstrated improvement, and follow up about how the advisee is responding to the report over the long term.
The advisory group provides an opportunity for students to form a familial relationship with other students beyond their naturally chosen circle of friends. For many new students, this may be the first group they will become involved with at EHS. For others, the advisory group may be the only EHS-sponsored group in which they regularly participate outside of the classroom. Advisory groups sit together in daily Chapel and meet weekly to discuss specific themes and subjects, to enjoy team building games and activities, and to provide time for individual meetings between advisor and advisees. The advisor may also convene additional meetings with the advisory group outside of these scheduled opportunities for special events such as service activities, shared meals, attending EHS sporting events, and other group socials.
Advisors are the primary supervisors of students’ schedules and fulfillment of graduation requirements. Advisors track students’ progress and coordinate a four-year plan that ensures the completion of these graduation requirements.
In August and December of each academic year, students are allowed to request schedule changes. Once a semester begins, all schedule change requests require the advisor’s signature to ensure that the advisor’s input regarding the student’s four-year plan is included in the approval process. Before signing a schedule change request, the advisor will check the student’s four-year plan to ensure that the change will not prevent or delay graduation, and that the student has met all requirements for the new course.
During the spring semester, freshman, sophomore, and junior students will register for classes for the following school year. Advisors will meet with each advisee to discuss options, electives, course load, and graduation requirements. Because the master schedule is developed from student requests made during this time, it is crucial that the student select courses that match both student interest and what the student is qualified to do. Students must provide alternatives for all electives, since some courses are taught during only one period per school year and may not fit into the student’s schedule.
When students matriculate at EHS, they are placed with an advisor. This placement is based upon the student’s interests and needs at that time. As a student matures, interests may shift and relationships with the advisor or with other advisees may change. In light of this, any student may request a change of advisory at any time, although such changes cause the least disruption and awkwardness when made at the end of the academic year. Freshmen are formally notified about the opportunity to change advisors at the end of their freshman year.
The process to change advisories is as follows: First, the student should contact the Advisory Chair to make a formal request. Second, the student must complete a form that includes reasons that are prompting the change and preferences regarding the new advisor’s style, approach, interests, and other qualities. Third, the student must meet face-to-face with the Advisory Chair or an administrator to discuss the proposed change.
Some reasons for changing advisory groups are insufficient: students may not switch advisory groups to be with their friends or to select a favorite teacher to be their advisor. If the reasons for making a change are deemed appropriate, the Advisory Chair or administrator will offer several options for new advisory groups to which the student might move. Once an acceptable arrangement has been determined, the Advisory Chair will inform the student and parents of the details and timing for the change and will subsequently inform the registrar, former, advisor, and new advisor of this change. All conversations about making advisory changes will be handled sensitively, respecting the confidentiality of the information shared as much as possible.