The purpose of our Advisory program is to provide our students with intimate academic and interpersonal guidance. At the beginning of every year, every student – in groups of roughly ten – is assigned to a teacher, rabbi, or administrator who will act as that student’s Advisor during that year. At each grade level, there is also a Lead Advisor, who works with grade-level advisors to assure that students are properly monitored. The Dean of Students oversees the Advisory Program.
The academic goals of the program are to guarantee that each student has at least one faculty member who is aware of his/her progress at all times, to identify and remediate academic and extra-curricular problems as early as possible, and increase communication among students, teachers, advisors, deans and parents. The advisor is the student’s main advocate throughout the year.
Our Advisory program also goes by the more apt name “Ma’agal Hakshava,” or “listening circle.” Every other week, each advisory meets to discuss and examine personal, social, and developmental issues in a holistic, non-academic environment. Ma’agal Hakshava is unlike anything that happens in a traditional classroom environment, as the primary goal of the program is to make sure that students have a place to turn when they want to reflect on the challenges, rewards, and questions that are central to adolescent life.
The curriculum of Ma’agal Hakshava focuses on moral and ethical issues (combating bullying and prejudice, etc.), issues pertaining to identity and happiness (dealing with fears, insecurities, and finding one’s place, etc.), issues pertaining to health (making sound choices, examining stress, anxiety,depression, etc.), and many more. Ma’agal Hakshava is modeled after the practice of Council, a practice that emphasizes compassionate, heartfelt expression and empathic, non-judgmental listening. The program also integrates resources from Facing History and Ourselves, which we are piloting through a grant from the Jim Joseph Foundation.