Boarding students have two homes. Our advisory program helps bridge the gap between those worlds.
The advisory program at Pomfret pairs students with a faculty advisor who guides them in choosing courses and managing academic and extra-curricular schedules, and is someone you can turn to with any concerns. At Pomfret, students have two formal opportunities to meet with their advisor each week — during advisory dinner on Monday and advisory block on Thursday. Pomfret's program is distinguished by a network of faculty advisors, working together, sharing information, to support each and every student across every facet of school life.
At the heart of the advisory experience is the faculty advisor: a surrogate parent who is always available to offer advice or lend a hand, through the good times and the bad. Todd Matthew, who chairs the English Dept. and coaches boys soccer and lacrosse, touches base with his advisees at least once a week outside the set meeting times. “Students don’t always need something specific when we meet as a group so I make it a point to check in with each advisee individually every week so that I know what’s going on with them in classes, sports, friendships, etc. They just need to be heard and my job is to listen and to be their advocate.” Of course no two advisor-advisee relationships are ever the same. “Last winter I had to track down an advisee to share some difficult family news,” says Quinn Brueggemann, who teaches history and coaches lacrosse. “I found her at the rink. As we talked through the situation, we ate Ben and Jerry’s in my car. It was pouring rain outside, and in that moment I realized… this girl was my family.”
Every advisory group at Pomfret is different, but they all have one thing in common: they need to eat. On Monday evenings in the fall and spring, students gather around kitchen tables all over campus to partake in this Pomfret tradition. “They come over for dinner every week and we cook together," says Sheridan Zimmer, who teaches English. "I love having them sit at our big kitchen table. I love hearing them erupt into laughter over the silliest thing. After dinner, they usually all collapse into the couches in our living room. Sometimes it is impossible to get them out in time for study hall! They know that our house is always open to them.” Sometimes the groups go out, but typically they stay in. Baked macaroni and cheese in one house. Chicken soup with salad in another. Pad Thai down the street. And while the smell of home-cooked deliciousness hangs in the air, the groups sit and they talk — about everything and nothing, all at the same time.
As the primary lifeline for parents, advisors make formal reports at the close of each term, but it is the unexpected email or the perfectly timed phone call that makes all the difference for most parents at Pomfret. “I have always viewed my role as an ombudsman of sorts,” says Dean of Studies Don Gibbs. “My job as an advisor is to help parents solve problems by engaging them in conversations that will help me to understand and appreciate their child. I am their eyes and ears on the ground."