With Prospective Family Day right around the corner, a strong point of interest is the Student Tour Guide Program at The Lexington School. Some schools rely on the adults to tell the story because they fear the old adage “from the mouth of babes.” What on earth will the children say? The Lexington School Admission Office embraces those moments of honest expression, believes in the product of the school, its STUDENTS, and uses every opportunity to show, tell, and teach. This is why the tour guides at The Lexington School are 12 and 13 year olds. The following blog post, written by Lucy McKinstry, is an abridged/edited piece from “Pinpoints” Magazine 2013, and she explains in detail why the Student Tour Guide Program is a WIN-WIN.
Lexington School students have been standouts since September 14, 1959, the morning the school opened. Along with rigorous academics, from that first day there has been a continued focus on speaking in front of a group. From youngest to oldest, TLS students learn to stand up front, look their audience in the eye, and speak their piece. It’s not easy.
TLS student tour guides know this in spades. They embrace the opportunity to speak for their school, to speak for themselves, and they are the stronger for it. They are more self-confident, and they are more prepared for their next step when they leave TLS.
Knowing that students speak most authentically for their school, the Admission Office takes tremendous pride in describing its tour guides: “They are a walking, talking showcase for us. Often they are the first Lexington School students the family has met. They make an excellent first impression. Because they are natural, candid, and welcoming, prospective parents get a good idea of what TLS students are truly like.” Also, “they are the ‘product’ of what we do. When we show them off, it’s a win-win. It plays into our own philosophy of teaching: ‘because we are a nurturing environment, children feel confident….’ ”
Members of the group are recommended by their teachers, tapped by the Admission Office, and in many instances – and this is warmly applauded – have volunteered on their own. They know it is an honor and a privilege to give tours. As representatives of the school, they receive a detailed instruction manual filled with specific pointers on becoming an effective tour guide. It is a comprehensive lesson in communication and presentation, skills that every person needs to master. Encouraged to tell their own stories about their own positive TLS experiences, the students work hard to personalize and polish, as they emphasize what they hold dear about the school.
Aside from regular classes, those selected seventh and eighth graders get a full course in public relations, marketing, sales, and etiquette. It is no light commitment. Geriann Blevins, Director of Admission, works closely with the group, helping to ensure that each student tour guide is well informed, well trained, and thoroughly enjoys the experience.
On Prospective Family Day, each student tour guide has one family for an individualized tour. As the TLS classroom offers differentiated instruction, TLS student guides offer differentiated tours. With encouraging advice from Mrs. Blevins and Ms. Daughtery to be yourself and “Build upon your own story,” the tour guides radiate wholesome enthusiasm and genuine appreciation for their school. They speak respectfully, even reverentially sometimes, of their teachers who know them and celebrate them in the classroom. The student guides relay the emphasis teachers place on organizational skills, note taking, writing skills, and time management. They share with visitors the emotional impact their great school has had on them. “They are a walking, talking showcase for us. These 12- and 13-year-olds are the stars of the show. After meeting them, who wouldn’t want to come here?”
Ciera Proctor ’11 reflects eloquently on her Cairn experience, recalling, “When I was chosen to be part of the program, I was honored. It is a wonderful privilege to be given the opportunity to talk to parents and potential new students about how great TLS is. For my first tour, I was so scared. I was running through everything in my head that I knew I needed to cover. But as soon as I said, ‘Are you ready to hear all the wonderful things this school has to offer?’ I knew I was ready. My first tour was amazing. That day, I helped a family. That one tour could have changed their child’s life, because they had just added one tremendous school to consider for their education.”
“TLS was the best building block anyone could ask for. I loved being a part of these programs, meeting new people, and being able to tell them all about the wonderful experiences the schools hold for everyone.”
TLS Student Tour Guides–show the way.