Our Advisor Program
As shared by Dean of Students Liz Squindo
Thursday at WMA is the most “WMA” day of the week; full formal dress code with matching school blazers, all-school meeting and sit-down lunches are all a part of our traditions. These traditions all are integral to making our whole school community, and the Advisor Program is a fundamental component to an individual student’s WMA experience. When a student starts at WMA, their faculty advisor becomes their:
- point person
- No. 1 advocate
- guidance counselor
- chief cheerleader
The purpose of the advisory program is to build a relationship that extends beyond the classroom. The relationship is between the student, adult and family, and everyone’s focus is on the student’s academic social, and emotional growth and success.
We Match Students with Advisors
Since the advisor is such an important role in a student and family’s WMA experience, we take great care in matching students with their advisors. Every summer, the Admissions team and the Deans Office meet several times to make the pairings. New students are matched with an advisor who they will see throughout their day - like a teacher, dorm parent or coach, and who shares some common interests. Returning Upper School students can keep their advisor for the whole time at the Academy, and they also have the opportunity to change. Middle School students may keep their advisor for their duration in the Middle School or change as well. This allows the student to have a voice in who is a part of their support team at WMA.
Strength in Numbers
Advisors work with three to six student advisees. We intentionally limit the groups to six students, so students and families can receive individual attention from their advisor. Upper School advisory groups meet every week immediately following our Monday morning School Meeting. Middle School advisory groups also meet Monday morning. They have lunch together and meet as a group following lunch. The frequency and timing of these meetings allow time for advisors to reflect on school meeting presentations, support students’ goals and initiatives, and monitor students’ progress.
From Start to Finish
The first advisor meeting of the year happens during the Opening of School weekend. Families and students have an opportunity to meet their advisor and start building their relationship before classes even get started. During the college search process, advisors can provide support to their advisee and their college counselor with a listening ear or, if needed, consistent reminders to submit components of the application. As the year progresses, the advisor works with the student’s teachers and the Deans Office to ensure the student is being challenged, supported, and guided. From the first meeting on, advisors work to identify students’ interests to allow them to personalize their WMA learning experience and to maintain communication with families about this learning experience.
We Have Our Own Identity
Advisories reflect the uniqueness of the advisor leading the group and the advisees within the group. So while there is an advisory curriculum focusing on individual goal setting, health, and social-emotional development, there’s also open advisory time for advisors and advisees. Often times, sharing favorite foods becomes an essential part of the advisory. Advisors may drive or walk with their groups to off-campus a local cafe or farm stand or invite them to their on-campus home to share a snack and relax.
Advisory groups are an integral part of our support system at WMA. Advisors know what’s happening on all fronts of an advisee’s life and the advisor tries to make sense of it all. Whether it’s handing out exam-week care packages or a stern reminder to get their homework in, advisors’ role vary depending on a student’s needs. Working alongside the students, the advisors learn the students’ strengths, talents and areas for growth. With a strong relationship, advisors can have honest and productive conversations about their advisee’s successes and challenges at school.
Every student comes to WMA with their own strengths and areas for growth. It’s an advisor's job to support their advisee and the family. The advisor’s role requires a tailored approach for each student. A student with high academic achievement may not need help organizing their backpack or Google Drive; however, they may need guidance on how to create an evening routine, without their phone, to get a good night’s sleep. Another student may need their advisor’s assistance in coordinating a schedule to see teachers for extra help. Whatever the student’s need, our advisors start by listening to the student to find out how they can best serve their advisee.