The Middle School

Teacher as Mentor

Our Faculty:  A Team of Mentors

All teachers at The Heights are called upon to be mentors to students. The role of mentoring at the middle school level permeates all of the work of a faculty member. Every faculty member strives to teach students on a level that is both intellectual and personally developmental. Mentoring takes on special meaning given how formative the middle school years are for boys and how impressionable students are at this age. The guided growth of the student relies on the interpersonal relationship a faculty member establishes with him and often with his family. Developing these relationships with both parents and students is the main priority and is a focus for our collective work at The Heights.

Establishing a relationship with all middle school students that encourages trust and dialogue about their intellectual, personal, social, and spiritual development is a fundamental goal of a Heights teacher. In an effort to be of service to families, establishing a similarly meaningful relationship with a student’s parents for the sake of assisting them as they care for their son’s development is also an essential part of the mission of The Heights.

As a way of caring about each student’s individual needs, an approach embodying cura personalis (Latin for “care of the whole person”) is the focus of a mentor’s work at The Heights. At the heart of this mentoring is a teacher’s central belief that at every point in the school day the most important person to care for should be the student present to him at that moment.

While every teacher holds the role of acting as a mentor to his students, a special mentor is designated for each student as an official “mentor”. Mentors are specifically designated teachers who act as a contact point regarding a boy’s developmental needs. To this end, students meet with their mentors on a regular basis and parents are asked to inform their son’s mentor of his developmental needs. Despite a mentor’s officially designated role, a mentor is just one of many faculty members at The Heights who provide opportunities for personal formation and growth.

Emerging Freedom, High Expectations, and Self-Discipline

Opportunities for meeting high expectations, gaining self-discipline, or lacking discipline emerge in a student’s life during the middle school years as each student is granted more freedom. This development takes place within the context of naturally growing responsibilities and the personal freedom given to each student at The Heights. The educational philosophy at The Heights recognizes the personal freedom of each student and, in doing so, respects the individual’s will as controlled by the student. The Heights School seeks to provide opportunities for students to exercise their will appropriately and, in doing so, to develop good judgment. When freedom is misunderstood, disciplinary discussions often take the tone of mentoring discussions and all disciplinary measures seek to identify and correct the personal deficiency within the student that caused the need for discipline. At The Heights, students are deliberately given freedom because students who receive freedom are also given the opportunity for the development of good judgment, self-discipline, and bridling their own will.

During these years of enormous growth, the expectations that are held for students by others become especially important. Middle School students find themselves somewhere between man and boy, and most of them are still realizing their full potential. As they are testing the waters of adolescence, students will inconspicuously look to parents, teachers, and friends for direction in the form of expectations held for them. Ultimately, students often perform to the expectations held for them, whether those expectations are high or low. The attention given to an individual student’s personal formation will often shape the expectations he holds for himself. A large part of the mentoring process and caring for the individual student necessarily involves teachers making their high expectations and regard for a student known and allowing the student to react to these expectations by seeking to meet them. These self-expectations, in turn, dictate a great deal about how a student will act, what he values most, and how determined he is to reach his potential. A tradition of trust, freedom, and high expectations for our students facilitates the eventual development of a will that freely chooses the good.