Advisory Program: Where Students are Heard, Known and Understood
February 28, 2017
What do you hope to accomplish during your four-year Gann journey? How do you constructively engage with people whose opinions are diametrically opposed to yours? How does your identity as a Jew co-exist with your other identities? And how do you best balance a rigorous course load with an active social life?
These are just a few of the questions students might wrestle with during “advisory,” a critical part of the Gann experience. What is advisory, and why is it such a big deal at Gann?
Freshman year, every Gann student is assigned to an advisory group. The student, seven classmates, and the advisor (a teacher or other staff member who acts a little like a guidance counselor, but so much more) meet twice weekly for the next four years. For many students, advisory becomes one of their most treasured resources at Gann—a place to go for support, to seek guidance on matters both academic and social, to try out new ideas, to wrestle with challenges, and to talk about what’s going on at Gann and in the world. Advisors keep close track of students' progress – “and think holistically about what the student wants to accomplish and what a four-year intentional journey through school looks like,” says Assistant Head of School Frank Tipton. This month, students, parents and advisors are convening for a conference to talk about the big picture: how the year has gone and what next year will look like.
“Advisory has been one of the most central parts of my Gann experience,” says senior Aaron Butler. “As early as freshman year, my advisory quickly became a place where I could be myself and get used to the Gann environment in a judgment-free setting. Over the years, I have really enjoyed how close our advisory has gotten and look forward to every meeting that we have together.”
For nine graders, advisory helps ease the transition to high school and a whole new cast of characters. “I came from public school and didn't know anyone in my grade,” recalls Jonah Gold, a freshman from Sudbury. “By the time I started classes, I knew a teacher and a group of kids, so I felt much more comfortable during my first days of school.”
While advisory often concerns itself with the here and now, its goals are long-term and deliberate, explains Tipton. “We want to create autonomous kids, who feel part of something larger, whether it's Gann, the Jewish community or the world,” he says. “The other goal is to create students who think about the community and act on behalf of the community—who are prepared to sacrifice and stretch themselves for others. Not many school have as strong an emphasis on community as we do. That's one of the goals that emerges from our identity as a Jewish school.”