Saying farewell to some special people

May 22, 2012

OVERHEARD AT THE 4-YEAR SENIOR RECEPTION: “Wouldn’t it be great if Seniors could, just one time, have their advisors take a test for them?”

Five terrific people!


Note: Unlike pretty much everything else I write, this post is meant to be taken seriously.

The connection between advisors and their advisees is a very special one at Gould.  I’m pretty sure that every school says this, and maybe it’s true of their schools.  Here at “The Academy” we know it to be true, and here’s how we prove it: This relationship is so important to all that we do here that we allow students to choose their advisors.

Think about that for a moment.  How often in your life do you get to select who you work with?  In school you have some leeway to choose your courses, but your teachers are assigned to you. You are born into your family, groups in your place of employment are by and large assembled for you, sports teams are at the mercy of coaches and a combination of personal drive, innate talent, and environment.  Even your babysitters are chosen by your parents.

But your advisor is yours, and yours alone.  We take this seriously.

There is no real formula as to what makes this connection work – each relationship is a precious, individual bond.  Sometimes, elements of the glue that holds advisors and advisees together is obvious, sometimes more subtle:

  • Scott and I have shared countless moments together as ski patrollers on the slopes at Sunday River. I knew from the day I met him that we would be in this together for the long haul.
  • Gemma, was it comforting to arrive in the US, to be greeted by people that know your home and your culture? It was special to me, and has grown more so over time.
  • Helen and I have struggled mightily together in the theater, standing in the dark to make those in the light shine more brightly. The applause they receive is shared between us too, like a secret handshake.

These are just a few examples, and they are only ours.  But our school is filled with them and there are as many special relationships as there are students and their advisors. When I see Ben Martin and Mr. Southam together I know that this system works.  When Eliana and Mr. Baker interact, I know it works. Courtney and the Mannings.  Zee and Ms. Eaton.  Ellie and Mrs. Whittington.  Jason and Mr. McLaughlin.  The list goes on and on.

Occasionally people ask me what it means to be an advisor.  I usually offer them a chair and a cool drink to enjoy while I answer.  As advisors we interact with every part of our advisees’ lives here at Gould (and beyond).  We are organizers, cheerleaders, fans, short-order cooks, part-time parents, nags, co-dreamers, co-problem solvers, and chauffeurs. With our advisees we laugh together, cry together, cheer together, plan together, joke, struggle, celebrate, feast, and navigate our way together through this turbulent, magnificent, painful time called adolescence.  It’s a crazy, rewarding, sometimes overwhelming symbiotic relationship in which students learn to grow up and teachers learn to stay young.  You make us laugh and we make you dessert.  In my crazy little universe there is nothing I do here that is more important.

Really I am writing this GLOG, my final entry for the year, to say thank you, congratulations, and farewell to five young people.  Scott, Helen, Abbie, Merritt, and Gemma, as you head out into the “real world” (what does that mean anyways?  Is this part of life just a mock-up, like a movie set?), remember that there are people here in this little corner of the world who will always be here for you, will cheer for your successes, anguish over your heartbreaks, and celebrate your accomplishments.

The comfy easy chair in our living room is always open for you. We will always be your advisors.


2 Responses

  1. Avatar Don says:

    Great post, Doug! An eloquent tribute to your advisees and to the whole notion of what great teaching can mean to both pupil and teacher. Think: “Flower Drum Song”: “…by our pupils we are taught.” Mark Hopkins and “the other end of the log.” Great photo, too, of them all, up by Mount Washington.

  2. Avatar Clark Edwards "60" says:

    I am also the proud father of Charlie Edwards “2004”

    Mr. Alford : A GREAT post !! Goulds advisors have been very “special” to us all for a long time ! Thank you for ALL you do ! Clark Edwards

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