At The Academy at Penguin Hall, advisors are an important resource for both students and parents. In recognition of January as National Mentoring Month, I want to recognize the invaluable work that our advisors do each day with their students and discuss why advisory is such an important and unique part of a balanced education here at Penguin Hall.

I am certain there are many of us who could have benefitted in high school from having a trusted adult mentor to speak with in times of celebration and challenge. Maybe you had that person in the form of a favorite teacher or athletics coach. Maybe you did not.

I, for one, did not have a mentor outside of my family. My parents were both hard-working, and gender was never considered an obstacle to doing anything — a perspective that shaped my path and identity as a young woman and into adulthood. 

As a woman who worked in fields historically dominated by male leadership, I can imagine how helpful it would have been to confide in a strong female mentor, someone who reflected my self image and experiences. I made my own way, but a mentor could have provided the mental, emotional, and professional support to validate that I was not alone in my experiences and reinforce that I had earned and had every right to be in those positions.

All young people deserve to have a trusted mentor, particularly in secondary school where transitions and new experiences abound. Research on the impact of mentoring on youth and adolescents in schools is linked to benefits like increased self esteem and academic competence. Here at Penguin Hall, we have intentionally created a structured advisory program that allows each and every girl a dedicated point of contact every day. Our advisors are our teachers and administrative staff, all of who are equipped to provide both academic and social-emotional guidance. 

A student’s advisor is there to help each student set reachable goals in class, problem solve, and prioritize their assignments and responsibilities. They are there if a student needs to confide about personal challenges in or out of school. In their small advisory groups, advisors facilitate students supporting each other. Students get to know other students whom they otherwise might not socialize with outside of class; they share meals together, discuss school issues together, and learn important lessons in empathy.

Advisors act as a bridge between students, their families and other teachers. Because they see advisees every day, advisors really get to see and know each student and form relationships of trust. Advisors are uniquely set up to communicate any information that might otherwise go unseen by other adults and help pose solutions that are in the best interest of the student. They will continue to be there as girls navigate trials and tribulations throughout their high-school careers.

The best mentors challenge us to overcome our fears, to embrace our strengths and to be our best selves. I am grateful for all of the mentors here at Penguin Hall and for those who have inspired me throughout my life.

Learn more about The Academy at Penguin Hall’s President and Co-Founder Molly Martins.