New version of Panther Time helps strengthen relationships


Moksha Pandem

Seventh-graders Ishya Anbuselvan (left) and Alex Peaks (right) interacting during an advisory activity.

Moksha Pandem and Anci Somu

After three months in the newest version of Panther Time, students say they are building stronger relationships with others. All students at RCMS this year are required to engage in multiple Social Emotional Learning lessons each week, known as advisory. 

Developing since the past year, the goal of advisory at RCMS has been to build positive relationships with students and focus on achievement and success.

“I’ve been making a lot of friends in different classes so I can always have someone to talk to or relate to in each class,” said Hailey Deng, seventh-grader on the Legacy team.

Hailey now feels more comfortable in her learning environment due to the relationships she has been making. 

During the 30 minute period of advisory, students have discussions among themselves and have time to talk about topics that might be important to them.

On some days, there are planned lessons so that students can connect more with each other. With this, students can learn more about peers and themselves. 

“As time went on, lessons were embedded into our curriculum,” said Mr. Christopher Powell, one of our assistant principals. “Before last year, RCMS didn’t have any social learning as we do now.”

 Previously, RCMS used the SEL screener to provide teachers and administrators with a sense of where their students were mentally, and helped them further understand each other.

Before last year, advisory was everyday for 30 minutes. However, it was less structured and there were few activities every so often. Advisory has changed greatly from last year due to the pandemic. 

“Last year was virtual so I didn’t get much connection with others,” said Terje Stoothoff, eighth-grader on the Voyagers team. 

Advisory has been shifted to encourage positivity and build a community. Advisory is now a time for students to work towards their skills, and to help them work through their social awareness learning. 

“I feel like advisory is important, especially this year because of the pandemic and students not being in school could take a toll on them,” said Ms. Breenae Hackett, RCMS Health and PE teacher.

School counselors and Ms. Jennifer Miley, supervisor for student services at RCMS, work to support advisory and the process along with social workers to help and meet the needs of students. 

Advisory helps students build useful and important relationships with peers and their teachers. 

“When students have a good relationship with their peers and teachers, they are more likely to be more immersed in the lesson,” said Terje.

Aside from building relationships, advisory helps students perform well in their classes. It has been observed that students do better in school when they are given time to socialize and connect with their peers and teachers in a comfortable environment, aside from just the lessons.

“It’s all about feeling connected with everyone,” said Mrs. Kelly Ross, eighth-grade English teacher at RCMS.

Advisory gives students and teachers ways to cope with situations they are dealing with. Teachers can have better relationships with their students and sometimes even learn from them.

Advisory is constantly evolving.

Mrs. Ross said, “No matter what happens, there is always somebody in the building that’s there for you.”