Advising at Westminster
Faculty members at Westminster School are extraordinarily dedicated teachers whose passion for educating young people goes beyond the classroom. Whether it's on the field, in the dorms, in the dining hall or behind the scenes, faculty members are always guiding and supporting their students. Typically, the faculty member of the most significance to a student is his or her advisor.
Advising Is A Priority
Advising is a priority at Westminster, not an afterthought. The advisor system assures that each student receives oversight, guidance and support from a faculty member dedicated to that student. New students have advisors assigned to them by the Director of Studies; returning students get to choose their advisor, assuring a good match. Some students will stay with the same advisor all four years, creating continuity and a strong bond; others change every year, preferring a different perspective and causing several faculty members to closely following one’s career. Westminster has a rich diversity of advisors.
Advising is a part of Westminster’s overall emphasis on individual attention to our students. We want each of our students to feel that there are adults with whom they can talk about issues that interest or concern them, adults who especially look out for them. The advisor is also important as a "go to person" for parents to turn to with any concerns, someone who can relay information or questions back and forth between parents and the other teachers.
The advisor program creates a central location for all information about a student -- insights and concerns flow from the deans, teachers, coaches, corridor supervisors, nurses, and other concerned faculty to the advisor. This makes the communication with parents rich and nuanced because the advisor can see patterns and trends that exist across different arena of a student's experience at the school.
Students meet with advisors at least once a week, but most will talk more often, as their paths cross frequently in this ideally sized community. An advisor helps with transitions, monitors a student’s class performance, collects information and concerns from classroom teachers, observes a student’s interactions and reactions, mediates conflict, facilitates emerging independence, and opens conversation about a wide range of issues.
An advisor celebrates birthdays, applauds good performances, spurs a student on to greater accomplishments, listens to and discusses concerns and difficulties, helps to make connections and offers support wherever possible. An advisor also forms a close relationship with the advisees' parents, through frequent communication and regular meetings on campus.
Focus on the Individual
As with other aspects of teaching, the most rewarding part is seeing an advisee grow and mature--whether that is improving in some aspect of academics, social adjustment and involvement in the school, or personally in the realm of character. Grit and grace is often a topic of conversation.
Advisors help students become acculturated to their new school and help students navigate this complicated time in their lives. Perhaps an advisor gives the same advice the student has heard for years from parents and teachers, but it can sometimes be more effective because the student is hearing it from someone new."
Westminster prides itself on educating the whole student rather than simply transmitting information, and these deep relationships with an advisor are integral to achieving that important goal.