The proactive approach of the Upper School guidance department is based on an honest, thoughtful partnership between students, parents, and guidance personnel.
The program encourages faculty advisors to connect with each student individually and in small groups. Guidance at Ramaz is overseen by the Directors of Guidance and is staffed by over twenty members of the Upper School faculty, who act as student group advisers. By meeting with students formally and informally and through one-on-one conversations and larger group meetings, advisers offer students a pressure-free address for their social and academic challenges, opportunities, and concerns; as well as a friendly adult with whom to speak.
Guidance department faculty members also respond sensitively to specific concerns about individual students, or issues that are raised by parents, faculty, or other students. The guidance office deals with social, personal, emotional, and academic issues through a team process that involves parents, administrators, grade deans, and faculty advisers. When students enter the Upper School from both the Middle School and other feeder schools, the department is advised of guidance issues that pertain to incoming students. The process is based on the trust of the student whose needs are being addressed and that trust is a goal which guidance staff continuously work on cultivating. Confidentiality and discretion are core guidance values as are the safety and well being of each student.
Faculty advisers come from both the Judaic and General studies faculty. They act as mentors, offering the perspective of an adult who understands the Ramaz system from within, and provide a sympathetic ear when advocacy is required. The Directors of Guidance and grade deans regularly meet with advisers in groups and individually, and monitor the progress of all students. Adviser groups are constructed before students arrive for the first time in the Upper School, are coed, and have a mix of students from various feeder elementary schools. Throughout each of the four years, advisers, the Directors, administration, and parents all work together to anticipate and react to student concerns. When outside professional intervention is needed, the Directors refers the student to an appropriate professional, and act as the coordinators among parents, student, administration, and the professionals.
Recognizing that each grade has its own group identity and its own age and gender specific issues, the discussions at advisory meetings are age and grade specific. Often, the students themselves propose the topics for discussion. These meetings also allow students an opportunity to express any suggestions or concerns that they may have about daily life at Ramaz. The guidance program also conducts larger group meetings that address urgent topics in a more formal way. When parent meetings are planned it is critical for parents to participate so that students sense the collaboration between home and school. The relevant issues are often initially addressed at Parents' Liaison Committee meetings, which allows for parent input in planning responses to issues as well as for brainstorming about guidance programming.
Ultimately, guidance is an ongoing process that helps support all of our student’s growth.