I recently wrote about how The Downtown School incorporates current research in adolescent development and best practices in education. One way we do that is through cultivating a climate of care. Challenge Success, a nonprofit associated with Stanford University’s Graduate School of Education, shares that a climate of care helps students find success – at school and within the classrooms – by ensuring that students feel that they belong or fit in, and that they have supportive connections with others. Our goal is for our students to have a strong, supportive relationship with adults in the community – a factor shown to predispose children to positive outcomes in the face of adversity.
Similar to Lakeside School, one way that The Downtown School will support students is through an advisory program. Every student at The Downtown School will be part of an advisory group of 12 to 15 students, with an adult advisor who is that student’s advocate and mentor throughout their time at the school. Advisory is a place where students can build and nurture connections with peers and a trusted adult who will be with them through graduation. Advisors will work with students on goal setting, time management, and social/emotional learning. They’ll also have individual conferences with students when grades and comments are posted.
Advisors will also work with students on big-picture stuff, including helping them discover and explore their passions and find a sense of purpose. They’ll help students understand what types of learning experiences most often result in what positive psychology refers to as “flow.” These are activities when the student is completely and joyfully absorbed in their work – truly energized focus – to the point that they may even lose track of time. With this knowledge of themselves, students will work with their advisor to design a meaningful internship experience.