Author: Jake Reardon, Second-Year Adviser at North Surry and Surry Early College High Schools
Walking down the hall on my first day brought back memories of my own high school experience, only now I wasn’t a student, and this wasn’t my school. Everyone seemed to stare at me, confused; who was this student-looking teacher? I had to figure out how to get started in a school that never had a college adviser.
I jumped right in with faculty and staff. The counseling department and I formed an excellent team, and on the first day we covered expectations and goals. I learned what was already in place, projects on which I could collaborate, and how to impact the entire community. These were important conversations I continued to have with the counseling department throughout the year as we developed trust and mutual respect for one another.
Later that first day, the entire senior class was called together so I could introduce myself (a little scary, but pretty cool). Immediately students found me; they were loaded with questions and ready to go. Other students were unsure how to start the conversation. Sometimes I did not know what to say, so I told them “if I do not know the answer, let’s work together to find one.”
Advising Corps mentors told me the first year at a school is the time to “plant the seed” of higher education in the minds of students, families, and communities. From the beginning, I learned that teachers, counselors, and administrators were already hard at work helping students make plans for life after high school. I wanted them to know I was here to help, but not to judge or stop their efforts.
Working closely with parents and teachers created a solid foundation for future advisers while visibly impacting current students. I will not meet one-on-one with every single student, but I have strengthened the college-going culture in my community and I look forward to seeing that further develop in the years to come.