At The Heights, we believe that parents are the primary educators of their children. The education of a person is not simply or exclusively the teaching of a series of facts and numbers—that’s only a limited part of what an education entails. The education of a person in its deepest sense is how he knows himself and the world around him; how he grows in virtue; and how he, ultimately, reaches his full potential. Jacques Maritain also said that the aim of education, “is to guide man in the evolving dynamism through which he shapes himself as a human person— armed with knowledge, strength of judgment, and moral virtues—while at the same time conveying to him the spiritual heritage of the nation and the civilization in which he is involved” (Education at the Crossroads, p. 10). In the full sense of the word education, it is obvious that the role of parents is crucial, and the role of the mentor, although important, only secondary.
The mentor’s secondary role complements the parents’ own because the mentor gets to know the boys in a different context: the school environment. There the mentor sees his mentee interact with his peers and with his teachers. He will see the student in class and on the playing fields. The mentor also will have regular conversations with the mentee. These conversations give the mentor a great opportunity to know his mentee well. “What are his talents? What are his shortcomings? What motivates him and discourages him? How does he relate with his parents and siblings?”
It is the partnership between the mentor and the parents that makes mentorship successful. The mentee should be able to recognize that the message he hears at home is similar to the one he hears from his mentor. The parents and the mentor work in a partnership for the good. It is important, however, for the mentor to be aware of any disciplinary issue his mentee may have, for it may be a great occasion for giving some helpful advice.
Besides disciplinary issues, mentors can rely on administrators, especially the Heads of Schools, with issues having to do with course scheduling and course requirements. This is particularly true for upper classmen as they begin to have more options, or they want to add or drop a class. The mentor may help his mentee and the School Head determine what course selection would be best for him (of course, parents have the crucial and final voice).
The purpose of the mentor/parent conference is to unite the efforts of the parents and the School in forming the mentee. The conference seeks to put parents and mentor “on the same page” regarding the academic and personal development of the mentee. It’s a friendly conversation in which parents and mentor, who mutually want what’s best for the student, to find ways to help him reach his potential.