Believe it or not, Spanaway Lake High School used to be home to a few preschool classes. That’s where Jessica Clairmont began her early school years. As a “Bethel kid,” she continued school through Graham Elementary, Frontier Junior High (now Frontier Middle), and graduated from Graham-Kapowsin High School. But today you can find her back at SLHS, now as a teacher of ELA and Advisory.
Students have Advisory each year they are in high school. The class is one of their graduation requirements and is an important time when students can connect with teachers.
The goal is for students to keep their same Advisory teacher for all four years. “Honestly, that’s one of the best things about Advisory, because you get to see them grow,” said Clairmont. “Senior year is always the best … watching them graduate at the end of the year and walk across that stage, it’s just super fulfilling as a teacher.”
The Advisory team at SLHS includes one teacher for every grade level. Clairmont had Advisory growing up in the district, and she is working hard, along with her team, to make sure it continues to improve, so it is meaningful for students and they have the best possible experience.
“The Advisory program at Spanaway Lake has undergone quite a bit of growth in the past couple years,” Clairmont said.
They recently added additional supports for students in Advisory, but she said there’s always room to grow the program. Clairmont said she’d like to see a future focus on more “life skills.”
“We do cover things like how to write a professional email,” she said. But more on budgeting, taxes, and voting would be beneficial to students in her eyes.
In Advisory, students work on their High School and Beyond plan. Teachers are also able to deliver social emotional instruction, teach study skills, and discuss a variety of topics including community service, digital citizenship, and graduation requirements.
The High School and Beyond plan is required by law and our School Board Procedure 2410 lays out the blueprint for that plan. Currently students present their plan as a multimedia presentation to parents and guardians at the end of the year. Clairmont said this helps open up conversations about post-graduation plans that some families may not be thinking about.
“Sometimes students have goals their parents don’t know about yet, or they haven’t discussed before,” she said. These conversations allow Advisory teachers to give support to parents whose students may be the first in their families to be heading to college or the military. Advisory teachers can also help facilitate discussions about scholarship and loan options with the school’s career counselors.
Of course, through the high school years, plans can change. Clairmont says that’s not only normal, it’s expected. “It’s okay if their plan changes, because what they want to be as a ninth grader is not normally the same thing they want to be as a senior.”