The Home Visit

An adviser* at New Trier High School is somewhat like a homeroom teacher in that he/she meets with his/her group ( men have boys only in advisery and women have girls) on a daily basis.  The job description is much more complex, however, as advisers serve more as a guidance counselor than a homeroom teacher.  They are required to attend weekly meetings with the Adviser Chairmen (like a Dean) to discuss what the coming week brings in terms of “curriculum” and planning.  The adviser serves as the main liaison between home and school and if the parents forget to call in when the advisee is absent, the adviser must call home. The adviser remains the same as long as the student is on the campus, thus generally the students have a freshman adviser and then when they go to the main campus for sophomore through senior year; they have the same adviser for all three. 

Advisers are expected to visit the home of each advisee during the sophomore year.  In days past when New Trier had a four year or two four year campuses, the adviser made this visit during the freshman year.

It is an amazing program and makes a large school smaller as the adviser gets to know the advisee and vice versa.  Schools from all over the country come to visit, not only for the amazing program and successes the school offers, but also to see the adviser system.  Many feel that the system is one of the reasons for the successes of the school and with that concept I must agree, it is a major factor.

As an eight time adviser in my thirty year tenure at the school (I had more than one four year group and several  of one or two where I was replacing an adviser who was either no longer with the school for some reason or who had a job change within the school), I saw many a home visit.  These visits might take place during the week or basically at any time that was convenient for all parties. In the beginning, I scheduled a few dinner visits, later on I realized that this was not always a wise choice as it would require more time away from home than was desirable.

The meeting was considered mainly social, a way to present the school to the family and to respond to any questions in a relaxed venue.

The amount of time of the visit was totally related to the needs/wants of the adviser and the family being visited and it was always hoped and pretty much expected that the advisee would be there with both parents when possible.

The majority of these were amazing experiences that truly offered unique insights into the family as well as afford the family a major glimpse into the workings of the school.

Due to the fact that human beings were dealt with, there was the offhand chance that these situations could be incredibly different.

One of the more interesting moments I had was the time I visited a family in one of the communities the school served.  It was set for right after school, something I appreciated for more than one reason, one being I wouldn’t have to do reconnaissance and search out the place before heading home.  The reason for this was that the communities often had addresses that were less than perfectly visible from the street and perhaps not marked at all.  I remember one time I had to knock at more than one door to find my destination!

So this particular meeting, I arrived on schedule, was greeted by the mom and by my advisee. The mom mentioned that dad would be home shortly, arriving via train from the city. We chit chatted and awaited the dad and were having a pleasant time.  We were seated at the dining room table.  I remember that tea or coffee was offered and that there was a beautiful cheddar cheese ball surrounded in pecans in the middle of the table.  It was sitting very nicely on a fancy plate; there were no plates and/or napkins visible.  I thought it odd and wondered when this might be offered up for a snack.  Within twenty minutes, dad arrived, we shook hands, we all sat down again and talked about school, life, whatever.  Meanwhile, no movement toward the dissection of the cheese ball occurred.  I thought it odd, but was not overly surprised.

What did surprise me was that within fifteen minutes of his arrival, the dad looked at me and said, “I think your wife misses you.”  My first reaction was perhaps a slightly confused look on my face.  After a moment or two, I caught on and replied, “You are so right, I really need to get going.  It has been a pleasure meeting with you!”  And with that, I took leave of this family.  Luckily, this was in no way shape or form like any other visit I had made!

*Please note that the unusual spelling of adviser is a “New Trierism,” if I can call it that.  Thus, adviser, advisery

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