Advisee Groups at KO: the same but different

Features

It’s a Monday morning at 9:30, and where are you? Your advisee group, most likely. The frequent meeting of advisee groups is a selling point for KO, often mentioned to prospective families on tours, in interviews, and on the website. The school obviously believes in the importance of students feeling a close connection with their advisor and their advisee group as a whole, which is probably why advisee groups only switch once, after sophomore year.

Even though the advisee group is such a central aspect of the school, if you were to hop from one advisory group to the other, you would notice that each one has its own unique flair and does things a little differently. Some play games, some just chat, and others work on homework due the next period, until a stunning blanket of silence has descended upon the room as everybody excitedly realizes there are only seven minutes until their next class.

Senior Ella Schwartz, who is in biology teacher Fritz Goodman’s advisee group, described the room as being pretty quiet most of the time. “We’re often either on our phones or doing homework, and in either case, the room doesn’t end up being too loud,” she said. Nevertheless, Ella said that once in a while, Mr. Goodman likes to bring up interesting topics and asks his advisees’ opinions on them to stimulate conversation. Ella also explained that although her advisee group participates in “snack days,” where people bring in snacks like donuts or cupcakes for everyone in their group to share, they do not have a regular snack schedule. “There is a group chat, and we just decide through that,” she said.

Sophomore Samhita Kashyap, who has French teacher Ryan Brodeur as an advisor, said that this year, her advisee group decided to make a change. “We … are no longer using our phones during advisee group, which is nice because we really get the opportunity to talk with each other,” she said. “It’s a really fun time, overall.” Samhita said that her fellow advisees often discuss school topics as well as people’s home lives. “Mr. Brodeur makes an effort to connect with us all. We have small discussions about stuff coming up, and it’s generally a relaxing time,” she said. Like Mr. Goodman’s group, Mr. Brodeur’s advisees do not have a snack schedule either, but rather bring in snacks whenever they like.

Sophomore Isaias Wooden, whose advisor is Director of Academic Planning Carolyn McKee, said his advisee group mostly takes the time to converse with their advisor and take a break from the hectic school day. “Ms. McKee usually leads discussions and asks us questions, and then we are always free to interject or ask her for advice,” Isaias said. Usually, they talk about school-related issues and what people have on their plates for the week ahead.

Junior Kate Beck, of history teacher Ted Levine’s advisee group, says that the environment is pretty casual. “We just sit around and talk, pretty much. Mr. Levine asks about how we’re doing and we talk about whatever is on our minds, like that guy who scaled the New York Times building,” she explained. Kate said that Mr. Levine doesn’t have to tell them to put away their phones because people generally prefer to talk to each other and can do it themselves. “It’s better that way,” she said.

Similarly, junior Drini Puka said that in creative arts teacher Greg Scranton’s group, they also talk about whatever is on their minds. “It’s just like a buffer period between classes,” he said. Drini said that Mr. Scranton is always a part of the conversations, and their advisee time is usually spent unwinding, rather than actively discussing specific school topics.

Meanwhile, in Director of Academic Skills Jackie Rubin’s advisory, sophomore Justin Rios said time is specifically set aside for discussing how their days have been going and current events. “We sit around the room and hang out, and Ms. Rubin is always involved in that conversation with us,” he said.

While all KO advisors like to run their advisory groups differently, there remained a general consensus that students typically enjoy their advisee groups. Everybody described them as being a great way to put the day on pause and simply have the opportunity to hang out with other students and their advisors.