The Advisory Program at VNS is the foundation of the unique relationships formed between advisors and students. Every morning, for 20-45 minutes, each advisor meets with her/his students for a variety of purposes. Some meetings are devoted to academic skill improvement (e.g. working on the Six Traits of Writing, developing speaking skills, employing various time management/goal-setting tools). Other meetings include “check-in,” discussion of VNS/personal issues, selection/analysis of a positive “virtue,” sharing of needs, or answering a generic question from “ChatPack.” Over time, each advisory group develops an individual chemistry and a special bond. It is a place where students are safe and free to share both the joys and concerns of their lives. Appreciation of and tolerance for differences is a natural outgrowth of the shared time.
In addition to morning time and numerous interactions throughout the day, the advisor has 30 minutes of “sacred” one-on-one time per week with each of his/her students. The chance to review research, discuss obstacles and progress, timelines, personal issues, and set goals for the future is essential to the success of the project process. Students guard this time vigorously and, therefore, respect the time of others. These meetings offer the opportunity to address deeper problems, both academic and personal, that might be hindering the progress of a student. At VNS, advisors are aware of virtually every aspect of a student’s life and personality through observation over an extended period of time. The chance for students to make real, substantial, and permanent changes is vastly improved by the collaborative relationship they share with their advisor.