Peer advisors assist freshmen to adapt to online learning

The+Peer+Advisors+and++Melanie+Bauman%2C+Director+of+counseling%2C+meet+on+Zoom.+

Claire Diepenbrok

The Peer Advisors and Melanie Bauman, Director of counseling, meet on Zoom.

Due to the pandemic, The Webb Schools have decided to stay online through the start of the year. This raises challenges for students, teachers, and student leaders, as they try to make the start-of-year transition smoother for everyone, especially the new students.

The Peer advisors, led by Melanie Bauman, Director of counseling, and school counselor Daniel Rios, have been working very hard to find creative and helpful ways to get freshmen adjusted to their new classes over Zoom.

“The thing I have enjoyed most about the Peer Advising program is that it is truly student developed… With no history of working to help new students adapt to a new community without actually having them on campus, the peer advisors have had to be creative,” Ms. Bauman said.

“Working with admissions to host webinars that shared some community history and norms with new students was an adventure – especially as we all adapted to what community-based programs would look like this year,” she concluded.

The peer advisors held special interest webinars over summer for the new and incoming students to get accustomed to what life is like at Webb. For the webinars, the peer advisors covered topics about the types of classes, sports and activities, and helped answered general questions incoming students had regarding the new school year.

Feedback from freshmen showed that these webinars were helpful for them to learn and have a glimpse of a typical Webb student’s school life and stay connected with the community.

“Special interest webinars really helped me to find my direction and what I can do at the time of quarantine. It also helped me to stay connected with the Webb community,” said Alan Wang (‘24).

“The peer advisors are working to bring the community together with our newer students and we want to encourage the Webb community as a whole to be healthier and stay connected,” said Johnathon Maschler (‘21), one of the WSC head peer advisors.

Peer advisor’s jobs are experiencing major changes this year, including how they teach the freshmen’s introductory class, freshman seminar. In previous years, freshmen would have either two or three rotations of the class a week, same as normal classes. Normally, Freshman Seminar would rotate between Wellness, Fitness, and a study block. However, due to the change in schedule, the whole format of the class had to be altered. There are two classes a week this year: the first class of the week is run by Ms. Bauman, Mr. Rios, and Mr. G, while peer advisors run the second class.

The students learn core concepts and ideas in the first class of the week, then practice the extent of their knowledge through discussion in the second. Surprisingly, a lot of the students have connected with each other over Zoom already, and friendships have already been established in these “classrooms.”

“The peer advisors are trying to help new students get used to life online by connecting with them through sibling groups and helping them develop healthy discussions in fresh sem [freshmen seminar],” said Julia Patronite (‘21), one of the VWS head peer advisors.

Many more exciting things are coming up from the peer advisors as well. Events that Webb has at school, such as stress less week and spirit week, are migrating online. Even though being distant and online might be the new norm until we return, the peer advisors are still coming up with plans in order to make sure that the student body is staying both physically and mentally healthy, as well as taking care of those around them. As the community advances further into the year, the peer advisors will take on more responsibilities, such as zombie apocalypse, Halloween decoration as well as hosting webinars during health campaigns.