The House System: An Interview with Alison Ray

Kellen: What background can you give us about how the House System was created? Alison: Basically there was a class called Innovations that seniors are able to take and just started last year, and one of the assignments they had to do was to create an innovation or to find an area in which SAAS needed to create an innovation to improve the school. The students really focused on the advisory system, and they believed that the advisory system could be used better, that it could encourage more contact between kids of different grade levels and also help to foster some leadership in the school community. So these four students in particular decided upon as their innovation project creating this House system through which they would basically address all of those issues about improving the community. And so that’s where the idea came from. They then developed it and took it to the administration who from there developed some of the specific pieces that they were still working on.

Kellen: What do you think the benefits of the new system are?

Alison: I think, with some time to really get it going, that the benefits are (1) to encourage more conversation and interaction between students of different grade levels, which I think is really important in our school because sometimes it’s easy to get disconnected from kids of other grades; (2) rather than encourage competition between grades, to maybe encourage more collaboration between grades; and (3) to help the actual advisors learn from other adult leaders in the school how to best run an advisory. Some people are more natural advisors, and that’s not a criticism against anyone, that’s just teachers, just like any human beings, have different strengths and weaknesses. I think that there’s a lot to be gained from being in a House system where one House leader might be really good at something that another House leader isn’t, and you can rely upon each other’s strengths to help all of the students in the House rather than just being limited to your strengths in your single advisory system.