According to CCHS International Baccalaureate/Gifted Collaborator and Scheduler Dr. Meri Blackburn, who was on the initial advisement committee, Advisement was conceived as an element of a smaller-learning community focus initiative, along with the freshman academy and the Athens Career Academy.
“Originally advisement was two Tuesdays a month,” Blackburn said. “It was a big process (to create) and it (required) a large committee.”
Advisement, which originally consisted of social/ emotional instruction, was also put in place as a designated time for school functions that required student participation.
“Homecoming ballots and things like that used to be done in first block,” Blackburn said. “First block teachers were losing so much instructional time, and Advisement was a means to solve that.”
In 2010, the Building Resourceful Individuals to Develop Georgia’s Economy Act was signed into law by the state legislature. The BRIDGE Act mandated a regularly-scheduled advisement in public schools as a way of informing students of career options.
“The BRIDGE law has college requirements, career-readiness requirements and four-year planning requirements,” Blackburn said. “We were doing Advisement way before it was required and, truthfully, we met most of their expectations.”
In order to meet college-readiness requirements set forth by the Ga. DOE, CCHS introduced to advisement Ga. College 411, a self-guided digital college-research program for students. Through the use of this program, students can explore career and educational paths based on interests they select.
“Ga. College 411 was the perfect vehicle for (college-readiness),” Blackburn said. “Not only does it meet the requirements of the BRIDGE law, it’s a valuable resource for students.”
Prior to the 2011-12 school year, CCHS schedulers sought a time during the school day in which to transport students to the Athens Community Career Academy.
“We had to come up with a solution to transport kids, and we needed a time when they wouldn’t miss any instructional time,” Blackburn said.
In order to achieve this, members of the CCHS scheduling committee borrowed from Oconee County High School the concept of a daily free instructional period that corresponded with the placement of advisement. They decided to call this period Glad Time.
“Glad Time is stolen from Oconee County (High School). We talked to them about their plan, and it was the perfect fit,” Blackburn said.
Today, Advisement is used for BRIDGE Act programs, as well as school-wide events. CCHS Assistant Principal Reginald Thomas believes advisement is a necessary part of the school’s academic structure.
“When they make the schedule, every day of Advisement is packed. Depending on what BRIDGE program you’re in, there’s a different structured activity,” Thomas said. “Just like in the classroom, instruction should be going forth on a daily basis.”
In the coming years, CCHS will implement a seven-period schedule as it transitions to an International Baccalaureate school. During this time,
Advisement will see significant changes, according to CCHS Advisement Coordinator Sondra Moon.
“Next year we will have Advisement once a week, with Glad Time or remediation interchanging,” Moon said.
In the future, more of Advisement time will be devoted towards IB material.
“IB lessons will continue for certain. Right now we have five set advisement sessions for IB, and I could definitely see that continuing next year,” Moon said.
CCHS Principal Dr. Robbie P. Hooker views Advisement, and the purposes it serves, as beneficial aspects to all students.
“I think it’s been very successful. You would be surprised at the number of schools who look for opportunities to have an advisement like ours, or look to offer as much remediation and enrichment,” Hooker said.
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