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Portledge in the Now.

The Value of Community Time

Robert Liberto, Dean of Student Leadership and Development
Read how the Dean Team has taken significant strides to develop a curriculum that fosters academic understanding, social engagement, and character education among students during their Class Meeting programming.
In today's rapidly evolving educational landscape, the role of deans has expanded far beyond traditional administrative duties. At Portledge, the Dean Team has taken significant strides to develop a curriculum that fosters academic understanding, social engagement, and character education among students during their Class Meeting programming. The Class Meeting is a 30-minute period that meets once or twice a month for each grade to engage in special topic conversations and activities.

This meticulous planning and execution play a vital role in cultivating a well-rounded educational experience that goes beyond academics. These sessions provide students with a unique platform to engage in meaningful reflections on a wide array of subjects. By addressing pertinent topics like Drug and Alcohol Awareness, students are empowered with the knowledge and skills needed to make informed decisions in their lives. Similarly, delving into complex subjects such as AI and Plagiarism equips them with a nuanced understanding of technology's ethical implications. Balancing Wellness and Academic Demands, on the other hand, offers practical strategies to help students manage their academic responsibilities while prioritizing their mental and physical well-being.

One of the distinguishing features of these class meetings is the involvement of a diverse range of voices. The Dean Team collaborates with external speakers, faculty and staff members, and even parents to facilitate these sessions. This diverse mix of perspectives enriches the discussions and provides students with a comprehensive understanding of the topics at hand. External speakers bring real-world expertise and insights; faculty and staff members contribute their pedagogical knowledge; and parents offer a unique blend of personal experiences and insights.

Planning such comprehensive programming requires careful consideration and a forward-thinking mindset. The Dean Team invests substantial time and effort in designing a curriculum that aligns with the school's mission and values. This planning process involves identifying relevant topics, sourcing credible resources, and coordinating with potential guest speakers. Additionally, the team collaborates with teachers to ensure that the Class Meeting curriculum complements the broader academic curriculum, fostering a holistic educational experience.

Through the carefully crafted Class Meeting curriculum and the broader daily schedule, students are exposed to a wealth of knowledge and experiences that contribute to their holistic growth. By addressing critical issues and fostering discussions with various stakeholders, the Dean Team empowers students to become well-informed, socially conscious, and adaptable individuals. As the educational landscape continues to evolve, the school's commitment to nurturing the whole child remains unwavering, and the Dean Team is proud to play a vital role in ensuring the continued success of this service.

What is “Community Time?"
Community time is a daily block in the morning designated for school or grade-level communications, bolstering academic endeavors, and engaging in extracurricular activities. Community time takes many forms through Conferences, Class Meetings, Town Meetings, Club Time, and other events. 

  • Our school schedule accommodates community time events each day. In a standard two-week cycle, most students will attend at least five conference sessions, one class meeting, one club time, two town meetings, and one SEL/ DEI programming block.

What is “Conference Time?"
Conference times are essentially office hours for teachers. It’s a time when every instructor will be in a predictable place, a classroom or office, and available for extra help. Students may use this time to ask questions prior to assessments or just to sit and get a head-start on homework with the help of their peers or instructor. 

What are “Class Meetings?"
These are opportunities for students in the same class (for example, all of the 9th graders) to meet as a group to discuss issues specific to their grade level in the Upper School. These meetings will be led by the Deans and their class officers. 

- Some meetings will be student-driven, others will be led by guest speakers and presenters. Grade-specific class meeting topics include, but are not limited to:

9th Grade
  • Leveling Up: Embracing New Responsibilities in Freshman Year
  • Drug and Alcohol Awareness: Making Informed Choices
  • Exploring Passions: Discovering Your Interests and Talents

10th Grade
  • Plagiarism and Artificial Intelligence: Navigating Ethical Information Use
  • Balancing Wellness and Academic Demands: Cultivating Healthy Habits
  • Developing Leadership Skills: Empowering Student Voices

11th Grade
  • Social Responsibility and Student Engagement: Making a Difference Locally
  • Embracing Global Perspectives: Cultivating Cultural Competence
  • Preparing for Senior Year: Navigating the Path to Success

12th Grade
  • Career Readiness: Navigating the Path Ahead
  • Financial Literacy: Understanding Personal Finances in the Real World
  • Building Lasting Connections: Alumni Engagement and Networking

What are “Town Meetings?"

  • Town meetings are weekly all-school gatherings, generally held on Friday mornings. It is a time for the Upper School community to come together and share announcements, successes, and other events going on throughout the school. Town meetings are also opportunities to hear from our seniors in their “This I Believe” speeches and engage in community-building activities. 

What is “Club Time?"

  • Club time is time built into the schedule for all clubs to meet. This gives students the opportunity to engage in extracurricular activities that they may not be able to attend after school due to other commitments. 

What is a “College Counseling Class?”

  • College Counseling Class is for the time set aside for seniors and juniors to meet with the Deans and Mrs. Crowley to guide them in their college decision-making process and to allow scheduled time to work on important application components, such as their college essays. This class meets weekly for seniors in the fall and bi-weekly for juniors during the spring semester. 

What are “SEL/DEI Meetings?”

  • One block every two weeks has an allotment for programming related to Social Emotional Learning and Diversity, Equity, Inclusion, and Justice topics. Some of these sessions revolve around navigating adolescence, cultural celebrations, and presentations from students and guests on relevant topics.  Not all students have SEL/ DEIJ blocks each cycle. Some sessions are grade-dependent, while others are full-division programs.

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