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the bolles school
Bartram Students Build Charters in Advisories
middle school students


Bolles middle school students have been working on developing Advisory Charters in their advisory groups this week.

The goal is to set standards for how they want to feel as part of their advisories, small groups of students that meet each week with an advisor to build character, community and campus planning. The middle school advisories have been instrumental in better connecting students to one another and their campus home during the past two years.

“The Charter is posted in advisory rooms as a reminder of how we want to feel in this group and at School and how we together can make that happen and hold each other accountable,” explained Middle School Counselor Brynne Plant. “It is not a one and done, it is a work in progress that can always be tweaked, added and changed as needed.”

Plant was introduced to Advisory Charters at the RULER training, developed at the Yale Center for Emotional Intelligence. She, Lower School Counselor Shelley Serafin and lower school librarians Christina Karvounis and Jennifer Moore, attended the training virtually during the summer of 2020.

A charter is designed to build and sustain positive emotional climates by creating agreed-upon norms for how people want to feel, as well as how they can help each other experience those feelings. Advisory members were asked to answer two questions: How would we like to feel in school? And, how will we help each other and ourselves to experience these feelings? Students were asked to use their own words and write them on notes to describe how they want to feel at school. After a discussion with the group, the students and advisor decide on how to decorate the charter and how to display it.

For example, Cathy McClure’s sixth grade advisory social contract, written in simple colorful text, was to:


  1. Respect everyone
  2. Participate and have fun
  3. Include everyone
  4. Treat others fairly
  5. Enjoy snacks

Shelley Schaberg’s advisory charter wants students to feel “safe, positive, happy and smart.” In colorful orange and blue circles, the advisories explained how they would achieve each goal including acts like “being attentive listeners, sharing feelings and not judging” for the safe how-to. To be happy, students pledged to “eliminate negative stress, share exciting news and experiences and celebrate each other.”

The finished products are exhibited in advisory classrooms to remind everyone of their advisory’s goals and how to support each other in the process. For a collection of charters, visit our online gallery.