As an adviser* at New Trier, I was always wondering why it was that I seemed to get some of the most difficult young men in the school.
According to the policy, parents were not allowed to request an adviser. Those of us in the trenches always questioned this despite the “party” response that the policy was strictly followed.
According to the policy, an adviser room was to be randomly composed, hopefully having an equal distribution of students from the communities served by the school: Wilmette, Winnetka, Glencoe, Northfield, Kenilworth, and a part of Northbrook. This didn’t always seem to be followed either.
When an adviser walks down the school hall, he/she may be stopped by teachers to get input about advisees and situations. I would have this all the time. I got stopped even more because “Koerner Adviser Room” or “Advisery” as we called it, always seemed to have a certain connotation for difficult young men among the regulars.
I questioned the administration. I pointed out that I didn’t mind necessarily having the “tough” guys if they would just own up to the fact that my skills were appreciated and that is why I got them. Nonetheless, during my tenure at the school, they only hinted at admitting that.
One year there was a very difficult young man in the middle school on the way into New Trier. I was going to be a freshman adviser. We were told that there would be a lottery to see who would get the young man. Guess who did? I did. “Quelle surprise!”
I did hear that there was one adviser who stormed in and told the administration that under no circumstances would he accept the young man that I will name, Vladimir. They supposedly respected his feelings. I never understood why the “squeaky wheel always gets oiled.”
I really hate to pre-judge situations and waited until meeting Vladimir. In the beginning, the physically mature, powerfully built young man was not an issue. He was reserved, somewhat quiet. Little by little his temper became known. His older brother was at the school already and had a checkered career by this time. There were decidedly times when I felt unsafe and worried about the implications of having an angry young man like this in my group.
The home visit was an eye opener. A nice home in Wilmette was the location and I went there wondering what I was going to see. Vladimir greeted me at the door, shirtless, and let me in. His mother, an educator herself in a school south of the city, came in. The father, from what I was to understand was nonexistent and not a part of Vladimir’s life. There were rumors to the effect that he lived in Florida and that he might have had ties to the Mob. This was all hearsay and frankly I don’t know what the truth was. Mom was remarried to a curt man I met for a short moment while there.
Vladimir’s mom immediately started screaming at him to put on a shirt. I told her it was no big deal in my eyes, but she wouldn’t accept that. Our meeting continued as he and his mom ended up on the same couch, very close to one another. Their close proximity and actions as mom lightly touched Vladimir’s leg were disturbing. I was more than happy when I was able to extricate myself from the situation.
I believe that it was in sophomore year when things started getting bad. Vladimir’s brother was consistently in trouble within and without the school as was Vladimir. Tension in adviser room was high. The simple presence of the young man caused everyone to be less than normal in behavior. One of the young men had been bullied by Vladimir on the bus in middle school. I had an ongoing dialogue with the Adviser Chairman and other administrators as I was concerned about the very negative effect he was having on everyone.
One day Vladimir came late to adviser room. He had recently been having problems academically and also with his behavior. I was talking to him and asked him to come up to my desk. He stood up, picked up his desk, and pushed it into the wall with great force. I asked him, after that dramatic action, to go to see the adviser chairman. He stormed out of the room with such force that one of the small, wire reinforced panes of the door completely detached and flew out of its casing with great force as a projectile, flying across the hallway and down into the stairwell, barely missing (as I found out later) one of my students. I immediately went out, picked up the glass, saved it, and took it to the principal. I asked him to remove Vladimir from my group. Believe it or not, he did and he became Vladimir’s personal adviser.
Vladimir continued to cause trouble in the school until graduation and barely managed to do so. I heard of him later and he was continuing to be maladjusted. His fellow advisees, in my estimate, never really recovered from the trauma of his presence.
*Please note that the unusual spelling of adviser is a “New Trierism,” if I can call it that. Thus, adviser, advisery