Throughout this school year, we will feature guest bloggers to share different perspectives on or experiences with boys education on our Head of School blog. Our next guest blogger is Adam Farnie, Regis Head of Middle School, who writes about our scholars and gentlemen class period, giving you insight into the structure of this new addition to the Regis schedule.
One of the most exciting initiatives we have taken on this year is the creation of our Scholars and Gentlemen advisory program. Upon entering the Regis middle school, students are placed into advisory groups, which are like little families, and assigned a faculty member as an advisor. This family-like unit stays together throughout their time in our middle school, only disbanding when graduation whisks students off to the next leg of their journey.
This program is modeled after a program I participated in as an advisor at my previous school, Duchesne Academy, with a few modifications based on our innovative schedule and the fact that we serve boys, rather than girls. I was amazed at how close I became with the students that were in my advisory. Though the first year was tough, as we struggled to get to know each other and to open up about topics discussed, I quickly became amazed at how close my advisory and I became. In fact, one of the students I struggled with the most in the beginning, became one of the students I was most close to in the end. She even wrote and presented my farewell when it came time for me to move on from Duchesne and begin my current chapter here at Regis. Our hope is that the bond created between advisor and student, as well as the relationship built between members of the advisory, will further the sense of community that Regis does so well.
Not a day goes by in which students do not meet in some form or fashion in their advisory groups. Advisories start each day as a group, meeting in their advisor's classroom, and walking together to morning prayer. There are 30 minutes set aside each day for a formal advisory meeting. Depending on where we are in our eight-day schedule, students participate in a variety of activities with their advisor or another Regis faculty member. There are built in study hall periods that take place during this time, which students can use to seek out one-on-one or small group help from specific teachers or get a head start on their homework. Our younger middle school students receive targeted instruction twice in every 8-day rotation during this time. Health is also taught during this block and occurs one or two times in each rotation depending on the grade. Advisory groups reconvene at the very end of the day for a quick prayer before heading off to carpool.
Each rotation also brings with it two "Gentlemen" days, which are the hallmark of our advisory program. This is when advisors engage with students in character development activities and discussions, as well as team building activities. Advisory groups have worked together to make crests that represent their particular little family and have participated in deep, thought provoking discussions. Topics of these discussions include the meaning of friendship and how to be a good friend, organizational and test taking skills, and emotional intelligence. In the early years of middle school, personal awareness and how our actions are perceived by others is a key topic. As the program develops—and as advisors get to know the personalities of their students, as well as their advisory as a whole—they will become better and better at tailoring their lessons to their specific students.
Another added benefit of this program is that every student in our middle school now has a faculty member that is even more specifically invested in them. Meeting daily allows for advisors to check in on students regularly. Advisors perform regular gradebook checks and guide students on organizational issues. Though the time is there for students to seek out faculty members who teach classes they may be struggling in, it always helps to have an adult who knows how you are doing across the board, there to nudge you in the right direction.
Bio: This is Adam's first year at Regis as the Head of Middle School. Adam attended graduate school at the University of St. Thomas, where he studied Educational Leadership and Administration. He also received an undergraduate degree from the University of St. Thomas in Philosophy. Before coming to Regis, Adam spent three years as a Math and Science teacher, as well as a 6th grade team leader, at Duchesne Academy. He also served at Our Lady of Guadalupe School for five years as a teacher and Assistant Principal.