Walk into the Fine Arts wing on November 3rd at 10:00 A.M., and you will see something you don’t see many places–It’s Prospective Family Day, and the kids are running the show. Sure, it’s typical for students to give tours around schools–colleges and high schools maybe. At TLS, the guides are seventh and eighth graders who happen to love their school, want to share their stories, and have the confidence to practice their interpersonal skills with adults they’ve only met for the first time. At The Lexington School, students show the way on Prospective Family Day.
This was not always the case.
Geriann Blevins, Director of Admission at The Lexington School explains the evolution of student tour guides: “When we started in the Admission Office in 2003, we inherited an open house experience that didn’t include any kids at all. Parents gave other parents tours around a silent, empty school. It felt cold and quiet to us, completely different than how The Lexington School feels during the week when the hallways and classrooms are bustling and full of positive energy.”
“We knew there was risk involved in giving control to thirteen and fourteen year olds, but we felt it was the mission-appropriate thing to do. After all, we are all about taking risks, letting kids take risks, and making everything we do around here student-centered. We developed a training program that teaches the basics of guiding guests through the school, and we work with the kids who volunteer several times before the big day to reassure them.”
“We don’t pick kids to be ambassadors. We let them come to us. That means when parents come to Prospective Family Day, they see exactly who we are and the amazingly articulate and confident young people we help develop over time. It’s an authentic learning experience for everyone involved. A real win-win.”
Student tour guides are not expected to know details about curriculum. They are asked to share their own experiences and customize the physical tour to the needs of the visiting family. Parents and teachers are available in classrooms to provide more specifics for families who have questions.
“About 8 years ago, we realized how important weekends are for families to spend time together, so we changed the model of the open house to what we call Prospective Family Day today. We made the day child-friendly, invited the entire family, and provided some specials classes in Art, Music, and Science so they can play together and get a feel for how wonderful our teachers and resources are.”
“We’ve enjoyed this way of opening up the school, providing a warm and friendly opportunity for families who can’t visit during the week to come to campus on a weekend. I can’t imagine Prospective Family Day without our student tour guides. They really make the difference.”