Advisory Groups at New Roots
"We are not passengers, we are crew." - Kurt Hahn, Founder, Outward Bound
Advisory Groups or "crews" are small groups of students who meet daily with a faculty mentor for the purposes of providing academic and social support, building school community, integrating academics with service learning, and guiding each student through their development of an online graduation portfolio.
Students are supported in learning in teamwork and consensus-based decision-making skills, consciously building community across the divides of gender, age, race, and class. The faculty mentor monitors each student's academic progress, supports their portfolio development, serves as the liaison between school and home, and guides their college application process. Advisories organize service learning projects that integrate and apply the topics studied in core academic courses. Community building activities include participating in school governance processes, discussing "Community Read" books, exploring the natural lands surrounding Ithaca, caring for school gardens and facilities, and participating in the preparation of community meals on a rotating basis.
Research shows that a more engaging and connected learning environment leads to more equitable achievement outcomes for all. In their 2007 report, "Smaller, Safer, Saner Schools," the University of Minnesota's Center for School Change identifies several key elements of successful small schools that improve educational outcomes for all students: a strong culture of caring, teacher mentoring and support, rigorous and relevant curriculum, and service learning through community-based projects. The New Roots advisory program integrates these elements to ensure that all students enjoy a meaningful, high quality education, and no student falls through the cracks.