New Family Info
Are you ready for an experience that forever changes your notion of what "school" means? Are you ready to be engaged, challenged, and energized? These pages will be updated throughout the summer months, serving as a location for essential documents and information as you prepare to join the McCallie community.
If you have additional questions or concerns, please contact Valerie VanBuskirk in the Middle School, or Amanda Wills or Kathy Posey in the Upper School!
New families can get official McCallie branded items at the McCallie Bookstore by ordering online here.
For the latest news on McCallie's plans in response to the COIVD-19 pandemic, please visit mccallie.org/coronavirus.
Dear McCallie Middle School Families,
As long as I can remember, I have always looked forward to the first day of school. This letter may bring mixed emotions for many families. For some, it’s a sense of excitement and anticipation for a new beginning. For others, it’s a reminder that we only have a few more weeks of summer break left. The boys will get to see old friends and meet several new faces in McDonald Hall. A few of us will need to get back into a regular sleep schedule. I look forward to hearing about many of the adventures and stories of the summer.
You will find some important information for the beginning of the school year in this letter. I encourage you to read it carefully.
Middle School New Student Orientation: August 14
Orientation will be for all 6th grade students and any new students in 7th and 8th grade.
First Day of School is August 18: All students should report to school by 8:50 in dress code (solid colored dress shirt or polo shirt, long pants with a visible belt, socks, shoes and appropriate haircut).
Magnus Health: Please make sure all of your son’s medical forms and vital information are uploaded to Magnus. Magnus can be located in your parent portal from MOSIS. If your son is participating in a fall sport, this will need to be done before the first day of practice. All other students will need to have this information submitted before the first day of school (August 18).
Class Schedules: Class schedules have been published; however, they are subject to change if your son is placed in a more accelerated class.
Bookstore Online Info: Online book sales will begin on August 5 and end August 12. We recommend ordering books online and picking them up before the start of classes. Please reference the email sent on 7/31 with all book sale information.
If you have any questions, please do not hesitate to reach out to us. We are here to help.
Scotty L. Jones
Middle School Principal
Dear New Boarding Student,
Welcome to McCallie! We are honored that you have chosen us as your school. I trust you will discover McCallie to be an exciting, challenging learning environment as well as a warm, caring community.
Please allow me to offer some advice for you to consider between now and late August when school opens. McCallie is full of enthusiastic and motivated young men, and nowhere would one find a faculty more skillful and caring. There are other ingredients, however. Any student, especially a new boarding student, would be well served to become actively involved outside the classroom as well as in it. When you arrive, you should immediately go out for an athletic, forensics, or academic team (several of which have no roster limits). You might consider seeking a job on one of the school publications, getting involved in music or drama, participating in community service, or immersing yourself in some other extracurricular activity. The involved, active student will make the adjustment to boarding school more quickly, gain self-confidence, and increase his chances of having a truly successful year. We will do everything we can to help you find your niche in the first few months.
I strongly encourage you to become familiar with the school’s comprehensive website. It will provide you with information on summer reading, some facts about organizations, a description of the athletic program, faculty profiles and countless bits of helpful information. On that note, I urge you to complete your summer reading. It will help you become accustomed to the type and amount of reading you will be expected to do at McCallie.
Ryan Wadley, Dean of Residential Life, will be sending you periodic emails throughout the summer detailing information about the dorm in which you will be living, including your room assignment and information about your roommate. Let me assure you, we do our best to match roommates based on a variety of factors, such as musical preference, room neatness desired, etc. We certainly hope that you and your new roommate will become good friends and help one another through the first few weeks of school.
We are very proud and excited that you have selected McCallie School to continue your education. I hope the coming years are both rewarding and memorable for you.
Please don’t hesitate to call our office if you have questions or concerns. We want to do everything possible to help you get off to a good start in August. We look forward to seeing you at orientation on Saturday, August 17. Have a great summer!
Upper School Principal
- The McCallie Community
- Boarding and Roommates
- Daily Life in Dorms
- Check-out Policies and Weekends
- From the Counseling Center
- Transitioning to Academic Life at McCallie
- Academic Support
Greetings from McCallie! I hope your summers are off to an excellent start and that each of you are finding time to rest and re-charge after a crazy spring! I’d like to introduce myself to you, as you will be hearing from me each week throughout the summer. My name is Ryan Wadley and I am the Dean of Residential Life. I just completed my 12th year at McCallie and am excited to begin the process of welcoming you into the McCallie community. I will be sending an email each week that will focus on a different aspect of life at McCallie. These emails will be sent to parents and students, so I would encourage you to read through these with your son and to reach out with any questions you might have. As is the case for all schools this summer, we are making plans for what campus will look like for residential students this fall and will have a definitive plan on what that will look like closer to the start of school. We will share this with everyone, once it is finalized.
In this first of the summer's weekly e-mails, it was an obvious choice to focus on what makes McCallie the terrific experience that it is: the people who are here. This faculty knows boys. They have specifically chosen to open their lives to your boys. Instead of viewing time on campus as just a job, the faculty look at their time teaching as creating a community in which they want to live. We welcome you to that community.
As a dorm student, there will be several faculty with whom your son will work very closely. While titles are important to keep these people straight, they will very quickly become the people who help and support you along this journey. Most importantly will be your son’s dorm advisor. One of the six to eight men and women who serve duty in the dorm (many of these actually live with their families in the dorm) will be assigned to be your son’s advisor. Their role is to make sure that your son is connected while at McCallie. They are your initial source of information about anything that arises. They will follow your son’s academic progress, be aware of what extra-curricular activities are chosen, know who your son’s best friends are, and how things are going with his roommate. They are your biggest support, your greatest advocate, and your most thoughtful guide.
As for parents, the Dorm Advisor serves as your first person to call on any matter. Advisor calls range from needing a ride to the airport (at normal breaks, these are automatically scheduled), to asking about roommate issues, to arranging a small birthday celebration, to letting the school know about family issues. The advisor will be in touch with you regarding the more formal “blue slip” policies (advisors call or e-mail parents any time a student is spending the night away from the dorm on a non-school sponsored event, such as staying overnight with a day student friend.) The only time you would not go first to the advisor would be if the question relates to a specific academic class, in which case you would contact the teacher directly. You will be notified of your dorm advisor in early August and meet them during Orientation in August.
One of the people serving duty in the dorm is the Dorm Head. Their job is to manage the logistics in the dorm. Many of these duties are behind the scenes arranging faculty duty rotations, coordinating with faculty and parents who help support various dorm parties and events, representing the dorm at meetings, and coordinating blue slips once the advisors have called parents. The more visible side of their work relates to dorm discipline, weekend logistics, and running dorm meetings. They are the ones who compile the lists of dorm marks (earned by not cleaning your room, for instance) and who follow up on any resulting penalty. They are also the person that meets regularly with the senior dorm leaders (RA's) as they try to make the time in the dorm as productive and enjoyable as possible. It would be hard to find a group of folks who better understand balancing the role of director, friend, supporter, and sage.
Each dorm has a faculty spouse who serves as a Dorm Mom. The role of a Dorm Mom is to develop and maintain a home-away-from-home for boarding students. Along with advisors and the dorm head, the Dorm Mom builds a nurturing environment where boys develop habits of personal growth and wellness, the Dorm Mom will: connect with students, decorate common areas, and be a presence in the dorm during lower faculty-supervision hours.
The Resident Assistants (RA's) are seniors who have been selected through a very competitive application process to serve in formal leadership roles in the dorms. The RA's have as their job the basic management of the dorm. They will help run study hall, will support the check-in process, and will work closely with the dorm head to maintain a positive feel in the dorm. They will help plan dorm events and will coordinate the "Big 5" dorm intramural games. They are terrific sources of information about various school activities, classes, and teachers. The RA's are also well trained to listen to concerns on a range of issues-- personal struggles, academic challenges, and social needs to name a few. They are active mentors who deeply care about your son’s growth. Some very strong bonds typically form between students and their RA's; it is not uncommon for RA's to return two or three years into college to see the guys they mentored graduate from McCallie. The RA's also meet with me on a regular basis for a bit of a broader view of how things are going at McCallie. They give me feedback on proposed policies and bring to light residential community needs. We have a strong group of senior leaders for the coming year.
Mr. Tim Chakwin serves as our Dean of Students. He and I work closely throughout the year to make sure that the logistics of our boarding curriculum run smoothly and that each boy is connected while at McCallie. Tim has been an outstanding mentor and friend to me and will serve as a valuable resource both for you and your son during their time at McCallie. Mr Chakwin also manages non-athletic extra-curricular activities. Mr. Chakwin possesses a terrific understanding of where students are coming from and is wonderfully creative in helping them move their ideas from hazy concept into reality.
On the academic side, you and your son will get to know our Dean of Upper School Student Academics, Mr. Chris Carpenter. Mr. Carpenter has been a tremendous friend to me and your son will quickly discover his ability to guide him through the complexities of our curriculum. He has a wealth of knowledge concerning adolescent growth, learning styles and teaching techniques which I would encourage you as students and parents to tap into as you encounter challenges along your high school career. His insight and direction can make a dramatic impact on your academic success. Mr. Carpenter is located in the Learning Center, a place where students can come for extra help in any specific discipline or simply to work on an academic skill such as reading more carefully or writing a persuasive essay. Mrs. Howick, Mrs. Watkins, Mrs. Hughes serve as Academic Counselors in the Learning Center. All three are worth keeping in the front of your mind as you find your son finds his academic niche at McCallie. Also under Mr. Carpenter’s direction will be the Course Schedulers with whom your son will meet each year to plan the following year's classes.
Mr. Ricky Thomas is our Dean of Community and Brotherhood. Your sons will encounter him in the morning during our RISE program at breakfast and during the sophomore year, as he is the director of The Sophomore Experience. He also runs our diversity and inclusion office. He is an outstanding colleague and will be a positive mentor and encourager for your son throughout his time at McCallie.
Another gentleman you will come to appreciate thoroughly is our Upper School Principal, Mr. Hank Hopping. His role concentrates on day-to-day student activities as well as helping coordinate some evening and weekend events. He manages a Day Student Advisor system, much like the RA group except for day students. Mr. Hopping, Mr. Chakwin and I manage the Discipline Committee; this side of McCallie will be described in a separate e-mail. He is steady, fair, thoughtful, and has a fundamental interest in trying to provide the best school experience for you students. Mr. Hopping, Mr. Chakwin and I work very closely together. All of our offices are not more than fifteen feet apart, and we are supported by Mrs. Amanda Wills. Mrs. Wills is an unbelievable resource of knowledge to which I would direct both students and parents for larger school-wide questions, from scheduling issues to those "don't know whom to call" issues that arise. Her number is (423) 493-5566; this might be worth putting in your cell phone.
You will also come to know the gentleman who epitomizes the phrase "a McCallie man," our Assistant Headmaster, Mr. Kenny Sholl. If one were to take experience from the rest of us and encapsulate it into a single person, he would be that person. Much of Mr. Sholl's energy goes into the invisible workings of the school: faculty hiring, coordinating all of our areas of focus, and developing vision and direction for the school. Though your daily contact with Mr. Sholl may be a bit limited, you will still feel his presence at assemblies, on the sidelines of almost every athletic, dramatic, or musical event, and in chapel. He is a person to turn to for advice and for constant encouragement. He is supported by Ms. Kathy Posey who can answer any question or can find the person who will.
One of the greatest resources we have at McCallie are four absolutely superb school counselors. Mr. Joel Coffman, Mr Will Honeycutt, Mr. Trey Tucker and Chaplain Josh Deitrick manage the most open, friendly, supportive counseling office of any school I have seen. As they will explain in their own e-mail later in this summer series, their goal is to form connections with students and families when things are going great, so that if and when we encounter challenges-- and we usually do since they are a natural part of growing up-- there is a friendly, comfortable relationship upon which you can rely to sort out issues. They form a central part of an extensive network of folks who view their role at McCallie as one of caring for the whole range of needs you students experience. Whether it be figuring out how to get involved at McCallie or how to handle a bit more academic pressure than you are used to, or maybe how to process a family moving through a difficult time, there exists a solid support which you can count on to be there when needed.
My hope is that these emails will be informative as you and your son begin to transition to life at McCallie. Please do not hesitate to reach out if any questions come up.
Next area of focus: Rooming and roommates.
Summer Series #2: Rooming and Roommates
Note: If you just enrolled in the past seven days, this is the second installment of weekly e-mails sharing some aspect of boarding life. Previous e-mails are posted on the New Family Info. Page of our website: https://www.mccallie.org/
Living in a dorm setting means that your son will develop a relationship with a roommate as well as a bunch of guys with whom they become good friends and discover more commonalities than one might initially think.
Coming to appreciate the idiosyncrasies of a roommate can be one of the best experiences at McCallie. For those with brothers and sisters, the feel is somewhat the same in compromising, but somewhat different in the kind of friendship that develops. For those coming from a single room, it is an adjustment. There is no question that privacy is more limited in a dorm setting. Your son will have to deal with a roommate's music choice, and vice versa. Your son will have to coordinate his waking up schedules on weekends, being aware that someone else in the room may still be asleep and so they might have to stay a bit quieter. Your son will have to adjust his need for being neat or tendency for not picking up after himself. But at the same time, there will be an instant companion with whom your son can always head to dinner. Odds are there will probably be a guy in one of the same courses whom your son can ask for help on a homework question or paper. Your son will have someone whom he can talk to about dating or about a team tryout or about friends back home. This student will understand the insights and feelings because he is going through the same thing. The trade-off is remarkably worth it and is the reason that when the dorms were built, we did not choose single rooms as our architectural style.
Some guys worry that they will not get along with their roommate. Surely this is an understandable concern before arriving at school, but I have found that rarely do we get to a point where changing pairs needs to be considered. There is a great deal to be gained by learning to sit down with a roommate and work through what might initially seem to be significant frustrations. I have known several pairs who asked to change—in fact, believed there was no hope for resolving differences-- but when they actually took time to talk, they discovered such support for each other that they stayed together for the next three years! The RA's in the dorm are great at handling such conversations. In fact, I would encourage such conversations between roommates even if nothing seems to be going wrong. I have seen these conversations open up friendships on a much deeper level as guys become comfortable sharing more internal thoughts on how things are going.
We have six dorms at McCallie. One consists of only freshmen, a second could has some freshmen and upperclassmen, and the other four dorms are mixed upperclassmen. Each dorm has several senior leaders called Resident Assistants or RA's. These are seniors who have been specifically selected for their listening skills, their positive nurturing personalities, and their desire to create an environment in the dorm that is conducive to the younger guys’ academic and personal growth. Dorms also have six to eight faculty families associated with them; most of these families live in apartments which open directly onto the dorm hallways. These are the dorm faculty advisors and dorm heads about which the previous e-mail spoke. Dorms range in size from 35 to 60 students. Each dorm has a unique feel to it, though all follow the same general policies. They are very much ‘large families’ in feel and operation.
In the beginning of August, I will sit down with Admissions and put together a plan for roommate pairs. We talk a great deal about each student, and consider what strengths and preferences are. The Roommate Survey form (which will be sent to your son soon, if it hasn’t already been sent by the folks in admissions) helps tremendously. Being very honest with this form makes a real difference; for only by hearing from the boys directly can we hope to match the most important aspects of personality and interests. We ask the boys not to describe what you would 'like to be', but rather 'how you are.' If you are somewhat messy, note that. If you like old-time country music, let us know. (After all, you are already accepted; that won't change!) We have a pretty good track record of matching guys because the admissions faculty know your sons fairly well beyond the survey. They offer terrific insights which make a big difference in our work. For new upperclassmen boarders, some will room with returning boarders who have specifically asked to be able to introduce McCallie to a new student.
We have found in the past years that our matches work well, so we ask for your trust. Sometimes the pairs have remained together all four years. Most of the time, about half of the pairs stay together, and half amicably rearrange at the end of the year, trying to room near each other because they are still good friends. After the first year, your son will have the chance to choose his roommate; your son and his chosen roommate will select a dorm and room based on an order determined by GPA, dorm marks, and demerits.
For the upcoming year once roommates have been paired, I will send your son’s roommate, dorm, and dorm advisor information by e-mail during the first week of August. (If your son is already here for football or golf, we'll get the information to him by hand.) This will let your son have time to contact his roommate before you head towards McCallie for the August Orientation the following week. Not only will this allow for the opportunity to get to know the roommate a bit, but it will permit you a chance to coordinate items you may want to bring for your room.
Please know that you will have time during the orientation to arrange the room and to head to an Office Depot, Target or Wal-Mart or other stores to pick up items you may need. Many guys will wait to get here before purchasing an office chair which they then assemble, or before getting a rug to put on the floor. Every room is about 15' x 15' with movable desks, beds, and dressers. Looking ahead to the following summer, we do not store items at McCallie over the summer, so that might impact what you choose to purchase.
Every year we have guys mention how much they thought that the sense of brotherhood which they had heard about was cliche or “just an admissions talking point,” but then they discovered it truly exists in the dorms. This is not to say everyone will be best of friends, but it has been remarkable to watch dorms come together with a common goal of supporting each other throughout the school year.
Next Summer Series: Daily Life in the Dorms.
Summer Series #3: Daily Life in the Dorms
Note: If you just enrolled in the past seven days, this is the second installment of weekly e-mails sharing some aspect of boarding life. Previous e-mails are posted on the New Family Info. Page of our website: https://www.mccallie.org/
One of the statements we hear most often from McCallie graduates is that their time in the dorms was the best aspect about their McCallie experience. They frequently cite the close friendships, the relaxed feel, and the interactions with faculty and families on a daily basis outside the classroom. I can tell you from my perspective as a faculty member who lived in the dorms for eight years, I cherished the natural interactions where guys could share their lives with me and vice versa. To walk around the dorm or have a door open for guys to drop in and talk about their day, or to get that extra support as they prepare for a test or for a game or a production adds much to a dorm faculty member's life. It is very much more than a job; it is the way these great faculty and their families want to live in a community.
One of the most important pieces of dorm culture derives from the respect the guys feel for each other. At McCallie, we want to instill the deep appreciation for the dignity of everyone here, and a respect for the various skills and talents each person possesses. The Residential Life Mission statement with its subsequent goals was envisioned and written down by faculty and students almost a decade ago. It reads as follows:
We offer a boarding experience where students learn to balance personal accountability with growing freedoms within a thoughtfully structured, value-based, extended family community. We strive to encourage students to identify and to pursue their individual potentials through physical, emotional, spiritual, social, and academic growth, while simultaneously being aware of and supporting the broader community in which they live.
We hope to create an environment which:
• offers a physically safe and psychologically comfortable place for students to define themselves, with an effective web of support for the wide range of needs students reveal;
• values the dignity and honor of each individual, through community honor codes and personal integrity;
• encourages a sense of being a part of a larger community that accepts and appreciates the unique talents and skills of each individual, and that promotes a feeling of responsibility for others within the community;
• instills a high level of personal accountability, both academically in terms of a work ethic, and personally in terms of strength of character, determination, and motivation;
• offers opportunity for rich emotional and spiritual development;
• uncovers understanding of relationships, from the give and take of living with others to the realization that groups work differently than individuals and thus require compromises and selflessness.
It is my experience that the dorm is the centerpiece of where much growth occurs. It is where you find out how to live with others who may have quite different likes and dislikes, but whose base foundation of respect is the same. It is where you can have thoughtful, late-night conversations about personal topics with your roommate whom you have met a week ago or whom you have roomed with for three years. It is where you can be yourself, without pretense or image, because you will be accepted as an individual with intrinsic worth.
While the pandemic that we are currently experiencing will place safety, health, and well being at the forefront of our residential life program, we hope to hold on to all that makes this boarding community so great! We will be rolling out our protocols for this in the coming weeks, so stay tuned for a more detailed email about health and safety protocols in the dorm and residential community.
What does this mean on a daily basis? It means that we will work to create an environment where each person can flourish. Some parts of the schedule will be the same for all. Study hall will run from 7:30 PM until 9:30 PM for all students, though as you perform well academically, you'll be able to take a night off every now and then. There will be a daily room inspection for general cleanliness. This is not a military-like white-glove check, but rather a reminder that you are living with someone else and need to make sure you pick up after yourself. This will be particularly important moving forward because cleanliness will help maintain an atmosphere for all boys to be safe and healthy. There will be regular dorm meetings which will help explain policies, and times for advisors to check in with advisees to make sure things are going well. There will be gatherings run by dorm faculty while others will be managed by the RA's. Some will be on specific topics of community concern, helping students gain that larger picture of what it means to live in a group of folks, and some will be more one on one.
Your son will be responsible for himself in ways he may not be used to right now, but will come to value and thrive in handling. The policies on how to manage weekend checkouts and blue slips (times when your son will be spending the night outside the dorm, for instance) will take some getting used to because he will need to think a bit more ahead about plans and get the forms submitted on time. At the same time, he'll be able to manage his time more freely, without the need to wait for a parent to drive a younger sibling to soccer or band practice. he'll connect with day students and their families and find wonderful friendships that open up Chattanooga to him.
The joy is that all this growth can occur in the presence of an instant community. Unlike college or the working world where you have to search out folks, living in the dorm means those folks are just down the hall. Moreover, gatherings like the advisee group dinners or bowling outings that will occasionally occur, or dorm intramural competitions where your son will play on his dorm's team in flickerball, water polo, or battleball (to name just three of 15+ events that happen during the year) will get him together with good people in fun ways. These are in addition to pick-up basketball or ultimate frisbee games that frequently arise on Sunday afternoons, not to mention the hanging out times in a senior's room after study hall. There is a real sense of being connected.
On the first few days that your son arrives, he will get a more in-depth description of dorm policies and some key rules. I'll highlight some of these in next week's letter. For now, the most important preparation you and your son can do is to anticipate meeting some great folks where he can share himself with others with a trust and respect that they will allow him to be himself and will be interested in what he has to offer a community.
Have a good week!
Note: If you just enrolled in the past seven days, this is the fourth installment of weekly e-mails sharing some aspect of boarding life. Previous e-mails are posted on the New Family Info. Page of our website: https://www.mccallie.org/
The last email concentrated more on the overall feel of dorm life. This one attempts to highlight for you several of the major rules and policies. It would be worth reading the section on "Boarding Life Issues" pages 51-57 of the McCallie Blue Book which deals with many issues revolving around boarding life. You will notice that the language of this e-mail is more direct and pointed than in previous notes. Please take this as an indication of the importance we place on these policies.
One of our primary goals is maintaining an atmosphere that allows your son to grow to his fullest potential. Part of this is ensuring a level of safety and awareness by the faculty as to what your sons are up to on a daily, even hourly basis. Not at all meant to be oppressive, our desire to know what he is doing stems from the obligation we have to you to serve in the role of guides, friends, and in loco parentis. To this end, there are simply some policies that must stay permanently at the front of his mind while he is here at McCallie.
First, anytime your son leaves campus, he must sign out in his dorm. Regardless of whether he is leaving campus for an athletic event with a school team or headed with a day student friend to dinner and a movie, he must fill out the sign-out sheet which will always be at the entrance to his dorm. Failure to do this is a significant offense which we take quite seriously and to which we respond fairly severely. The sign out sheet will ask him to note where he is going, with whom, and his expected time of return. Freshmen and sophomores won't be leaving campus during the school week, unless on a school sponsored trip or with an RA or faculty member; juniors and seniors can do so in the afternoons as well as in the evening if they maintain certain GPA's. These are described in detail in the blue book.
There are specific check-in times that we take particularly seriously. During the week, all students will check-in at breakfast on Mon., Tues., Thurs., and Fri. for our RISE program. This check in will be between 8:00 and 8:25am in the dining hall. In the evenings, your son is expected to check in with the duty teacher at the beginning of study hall. Sometimes games and other scheduled events prevent this from occurring exactly at that time; it is up to the student to find or contact that duty person earlier that afternoon to let them know he will be late. Dorm faculty and RA's typically have a set rotation schedule so he will know whom he needs to find. He can always contact his dorm head with this kind of information and he will get it to the duty person. After study hall, there is about an hour of free time. All freshmen must return to their dorms by 10:15pm; upperclassmen are required to be back in their dorms at 10:30pm.
There are times during the week that your son’s GPA might allow him the privilege of missing study hall. For juniors and seniors, this could be the privilege of an evening off campus. He would still need to check in with the duty teacher at 7:15pm and be back in the dorm at 10:15/10:30pm. Unless he has a night off, he will remain on campus after 7:15pm.
On weekends, there are also regular check-in times, usually associated with meal times. The quickest way to lose a weekend night out privilege is to miss one of these check-ins. On Saturday between 11:30am and noon in the dorm, on Friday nights between 5:45pm and 6:30pm and Saturday nights between 5:30pm and 6:15pm in the dining hall, your son will find an on-duty teacher from his dorm and let them know his afternoon or evening plans. Maybe he is headed to our local minor league baseball team's game or out to dinner with friends or to a concert. The duty teacher will note this and then expect to hear how the event went when your son checks back in later that evening. Those later evening check-in times are determined by class level, as noted in the blue book. Obviously we know plans evolve as friends change their minds or a new possibility arises, so we ask the boys to communicate with the duty teacher when plans do change. Being in touch with the duty person when such a change occurs helps us know where your son is.
There are always a myriad of activities going on at McCallie over the weekend. Many parents call us to say that their son rarely comes home to see them on non-break times, and the reason is that he is so involved in the activities at school. That's a good thing in my mind. Nevertheless, there are times you will want to spend time with your son at home, be it for him to reconnect with friends, attend a family gathering, etc. There are other times he will want to hang out with day student friends for an overnight stay. The process he'll need to go through involves filling out a blue slip, an on-line form, which tells us where he intends to go, who will be there, and how we can get in touch with him if needed. This form is submitted during the week prior to his absence to your son’s dorm advisor, and s/he contacts you, as the parents, and the destination adults to verify the plans. For a non-school sponsored event, if the advisor does not get permission from the parents, he cannot go. We make sure this is understood, for this is a hard and fast rule: we must receive direct permission for your son to spend the night away from campus on a non-school sponsored event. This may frustrate your son if he is trying to piece together last minute plans or if the parents are traveling and out of immediate touch. Hopefully he will be able to understand our role as a school and the rationale for this policy.
There are obviously other aspects of the check-outs and blue slip policies with which your son will need to become familiar. We will help during his first few weeks, and they will quickly become second nature. Hopefully, he will find that within the system, there is a great deal of freedom.
Next Week: The Counseling Center (some of the greatest people you'll find on campus!)
Note: If you just enrolled in the past seven days, this is the fifth installment of weekly e-mails sharing some aspect of boarding life. Previous e-mails are posted on the New Family Info. Page of our website: https://www.mccallie.org/
This week, our Counseling Center offers you its welcome, along with a bit of explanation of the role this great place serves in our community. We have two full-time school personal-social counselors: Joel Coffman and Will Honeycutt. Trey Tucker also works part-time with the counseling center while also teaching English. Josh Deitrick, who serves as the School Chaplain (423-493-5844, email@example.com) for all grades will provide additional support to our students and their families. This office is supported by the compassionate and capable hands of Mrs. Jenny Suddath. Mrs. Suddath serves as the Administrative Assistant to the Counseling Center.
The term "counselor" at McCallie School can be a little bit confusing on the front end since there are a variety of professionals holding that particular title within our community. For example, we have full time college counselors who do a marvelous job at assisting our students in their college application process. Similarly, we have academic counselors who work closely with our boys in the academic realm ranging from providing strategies for studying more efficiently to actual tutorial assistance.
In the Counseling Center, located on the fourth floor of the Academic Building, we provide what is best termed "personal/social" counseling on both an "open-door" and an appointment basis. Our philosophy is that little problems solved early avoid larger problems down the proverbial road. By definition, adolescence is the "age of storm and stress" where even the best of boys struggle, to some degree, with a variety of teen issues. What we have found to be true in most cases is that a caring adult with a trained listening ear can prove to be immensely helpful to a young man who is struggling, regardless of the particular issue at hand.
All three of us have Masters Degrees in secondary/high school counseling. Understanding that most boys tend to shy away from those with the title of "counselor," we work hard to establish a great rapport with our students through a variety of means. For example, the Counseling Center is located in the "heart" of the academic building where boys are naturally found. Taking full advantage of the close proximity of our students, we provide bowls of candy that encourage our guys to stop by at class change to pick up a Jolly Rancher while receiving a friendly pat on the back and word of encouragement. We also make a concerted effort to get out of our offices literally to be where our boys are: at their sporting events, their musicals, plays, etc. These venues provide us with a wonderful way of connecting with our students.
Our belief is that boys need to establish a fairly close relationship with the school counselors while times are good in hopes that, when times are tough, they will feel more comfortable in seeking help from those gentlemen on the fourth floor. Besides the boys themselves seeking us out, we welcome and encourage referrals from teachers, other staff members and, of course, from parents. Mrs. Jenny Suddath is our very efficient and warm administrative assistant who will greet you either in person or by telephone. Never hesitate to telephone our offices or email us at:
Jenny Suddath (423-493-5881, firstname.lastname@example.org)
Joel Coffman (423-493-5681, email@example.com)
Will Honeycutt (423-493-5889, firstname.lastname@example.org)
Trey Tucker (email@example.com)
Josh Deitrick (423-493-5844, firstname.lastname@example.org)
For a little further clarification, please note that this coming year, Joel Coffman will focus primarily on the freshman class and Will Honeycutt will be working primarily with the sophomore and senior classes. Trey Tucker will be focussing his energies on the junior class as well as helping to provide a presence on campus. Josh Deitrick's chaplaincy duties cover all grade levels as he continues to minister to the hearts and needs of these young men. Do know, however, that we work closely together in addressing all student needs and do not consider these grade classifications to be chiseled into stone. In short, there will be some overlap which is welcomed by all of us.
Understanding that a small percentage of boys may experience counseling concerns that go beyond the credentials of a school counselor, we have an excellent off-campus referral program in place that can place a student with an exceptionally skilled clinical professional. Those off-campus appointments are handled in the same way that any doctor's appointment would be handled. Of course, the boy's parents will be fully involved in the referral process.
Do know that we work also closely in concert with a variety of other faculty and staff members in our community with one common goal - that of encouraging each young man to become everything he has been created to be. We look forward to getting to know you and your sons and to serving you in any way we can.
Best wishes for a relaxing summer as you look forward to your new journey at McCallie this fall.
From Joel Coffman, Josh Deitrick, Will Honeycutt, Trey Tucker, and Jenny Suddath
Summer Series #7: Transitioning to Academics at McCallie
Note: If you just enrolled in the past seven days, this is the seventh installment of weekly e-mails sharing some aspect of boarding life. Previous e-mails are posted on the New Family Info. Page of our website: https://www.mccallie.org/
This is the first in a two-part series from Mr. Chris Carpenter, the Dean of Student Academics. He helps manage the academic side of the school and can serve as a great resource to make your son’s educational experience here the most successful it can be. This is a note for students as well as parents, so please share this with your son. Have a good rest of the week!
Welcome to McCallie!
You collectively come from all sorts of backgrounds with an array of aspirations. Some of you have a particular artistic interest or want to try an extracurricular activity that a former school did not offer. Others are pursuing athletic talents and others just want to try living away from home for the first time. No matter what these outlying aspects are, central to all of your McCallie experiences will be the pursuit of a strong academic career.
My job as Dean of Student Academics is to make sure that we here at McCallie find ways to elicit the academic talent that is within you. This is a place that partners with students and parents, a place where extending a hand for help is a way of life, and a place where, with the aid of an engaged, dedicated faculty that knows boys and knows how to teach boys, young men can discover passions for academic avenues that will lead to great college experiences, and more importantly to fulfilling, meaningful lives.
Learning about a new school can be intimidating. During your first few weeks, during part of a day or evening study hall, we will take some time to explain the schedule and the basic information that you will need to help navigate through the first year. This includes answering questions like, "What do I do if I am sick and I miss a test?" or "What do I do if I have three tests on the same day?" or "What do I do if I have to miss class for an athletic trip with my team?" We will also review some basic study skills for each class, prepare a time management sheet, and set some goals for the first semester. Finally, we will introduce the school-wide writing rubric that will be used by many of your teachers to assess writing assignments. We have found this to be an incredibly helpful introduction to the nuts and bolts of McCallie. Each school has a set of policies that are unique; knowing them can make all the difference in getting the most out of your time here.
Parents, these policies are listed in the Academics section of the online Blue Book which we would encourage you to read.
One place you’ll want to call “home” is the Learning Center which is a critical support system at McCallie. The Learning Center occupies most of the second floor of the main academic building and is open every school day. It is staffed by its Director (Mrs. Howick), academic counselors (Mrs. Watkins, Mrs. Hughes, Mrs. Burns, and Mr. Bankhead) and by an administrative assistant (Mrs. Brown) who are all interested in helping you succeed academically. They are remarkable folks with tremendous years of experience assisting guys on all subject matters. If you have questions about how to take notes in biology class, how to do a math problem, or where to get information for a research project, the Learning Center staff can and will help you. I often meet students who have come from schools where getting help was not the cool thing to do or who attended schools where there was an expectation that you should have been able to figure everything out on your own. That is not the case here. We know that it is the very rare person who does everything well. Most of us have areas of real strengths, talents and interests, and other areas that are just a real struggle. Struggling alone is not fun, nor is it particularly helpful. That is where the Learning Center comes in--we don't want you to struggle alone.
McCallie academics are challenging, but you will find that it is an exciting place to learn. Many people at McCallie are ready to assist you as you work toward achieving your academic goals. Come expecting to work hard and to have a great learning experience.
(Don’t forget to keep up with your summer reading.)
Looking forward to working with you,
This is the second installment in a two-part series from Mr. Chris Carpenter, Dean of Student Academics. Stay tuned for emails regarding our complete reopening plan from our Headmaster. It should be out today or tomorrow. Have a good weekend!
We at McCallie are all about partnering with you in your academic pursuits. This is not a school where you are on your own to sink or swim. You have an academic safety net-- in fact, a lot of them. I want to describe some of the more formal ones in greater detail.
1. Backwork: Backwork is time set aside three times a week for students to seek help from their teachers during the school day. There are no other academic obligations that conflict with backwork, so students are free to meet with teachers to ask questions about course material. This is the first and most important type of help available because it comes directly from the classroom teacher.
2. Learning Center: The Learning Center is located on the second floor of the Academic Building and is open from 7:45 a.m. until 5:00 p.m. My office is there and my primary role will be to help make sure we fit you into the right classes and to make sure you have a contact when things veer a bit off course as they sometimes do. Mrs. Howick is the Director of the Learning Center. You could not find someone who knows more about boys education, learning styles and differences, and 'best practices' than Mrs. Howick. Make sure to meet her and see for yourself! In addition, four other fabulous Academic Counselors also work in the Learning Center: Mrs. Hughes, Mrs. Watkins, Mrs. Burns, and Mr. Bankhead. They all provide help to students in almost all subjects. This can happen during a student's free periods or after school. Students can either walk-in or make an appointment to work with them on specific course material or students can work on homework and simply have help available if they need it. There are student-use computers in the Learning Center, so students can work on papers, do research for courses, or check email and Moodle for assignments.
3. Tutors: Mrs. Watkins is our contact for tutors. If a student is having difficulty in a specific subject and needs help beyond the teacher and Learning Center staff, Mrs. Watkins can help to arrange for the student to meet with a tutor. All of the tutors are professionals in their subject area, have been formally vetted, and work closely with the school. Tutors meet students in the Learning Center during the day and in the Dining Hall in the evening for tutoring sessions. There is an extra cost for tutoring.
4. Specific Academic and Testing Support: We offer several forms of extra review for national standardized testing. In the fall, we run several PSAT, SAT, and ACT review classes on campus. A few guys choose to enroll in a much more extensive multi-weekend review. We also offer classes on improving reading speed and comprehension. If a student desires more one on one advice, we can arrange tutors who specifically focus on standardized type testing. All of these details will be emailed to 10th-12th grades when relevant. Mrs. Howick works with those students who qualify for extended time on these standardized tests.
5. Writing Center: The Writing Center is located on the 5th floor and is dedicated to helping students improve their writing skills. The faculty there, Mr. LeSourd and Mr. Currin, work with classes on writing-related projects and with individual students who need help in all aspects of the writing process, from brainstorming ideas to citing sources. What a gift to be able to go to one of them with a rough draft before a paper is due and get help. It is like a free grade bump!
6. Information Resource Specialist: Located in McDonald Hall is our guru of research and school librarian, Mrs. Wadley. She is an excellent source of information for students who are researching class projects. She can assist students who need to find and use our large system of online databases as well as help students learn to navigate the library stacks in search of information.
7. Interim reports: Students receive interim reports from teachers with news about class performance. Sometimes interims praise a student for excellent work. Other times they are written when a student is struggling in class. It may be that the student is beginning a pattern of missing homework or has failed a quiz or test. In the interim, the teacher might suggest that the student attend backwork or work with the teacher during a mutual free period. Sometimes, teachers will require the student to come for extra help sessions. Whenever a teacher recommends that you seek help, you should follow through on the recommendation! Parents and advisors are also copied on the interim reports, so they can help encourage students to follow up on teacher recommendations.
These are a few of the more formal opportunities for help, but there are many other less formal resources. From resident assistants to teachers in the dorm to classmates, help is available. Everyone here is interested in your success, and the more proactive you become, the more successful you will be. Quite honestly, the major stumbling block for most students in the help process merely is reluctance on the part of some students either to seek help or to accept the assistance offered. It is frustrating and a drain on time and energy for a student to spend inordinate amounts of time trying to struggle through difficult material when a few quick questions might be able to clarify information for the student. So, take advantage of the help!
I should end with a caveat: There is a great deal of help available, but do realize that you cannot just sit back and let others do your work for you. You have to put in the work. You have to make the effort. You have to decide that you have goals and will put the energy into achieving them. A safety net cannot provide those goals or motivation for you. What it can do is make it a whole lot easier to accomplish them.
Enjoy the rest of your summer, and keep working on the Summer Reading.
Dear New Day Student,
Welcome to McCallie! We are honored that you have chosen us as your school. I trust that you will discover McCallie to be an exciting and challenging learning environment as well as a warm and caring community.
Please allow me to offer some advice for you to consider between now and August when school opens. McCallie is full of enthusiastic and motivated young men, and nowhere would one find a faculty more skillful and caring. A central part of the McCallie experience, however is choosing to be actively involved outside the classroom as well as in it. You should strongly consider going out for an athletic, forensics, or academic team (several of which have no roster limits). You might consider seeking a position on one of the school publications, getting involved in music or drama, participating in community service, or immersing yourself in some other extracurricular activity. The involved, active student will adjust to McCallie more quickly, gain self-confidence, and increase his chances of having a truly successful year. We will do everything we can to help you find your niche in the first few months of school.
Besides spending some time thinking about the ways you want to engage in the McCallie community, I strongly encourage you to become familiar with the school’s website. It will provide you with information on summer reading, some facts about organizations, a description of the athletic program, faculty profiles and countless bits of interesting and useful information. On that note, I urge you to complete your summer reading. It will help you become accustomed to the type and amount of reading you'll be expected to do at McCallie.
Also, we will be sending you periodic emails throughout the summer. Read them; they will help you become familiar with several programs and details that will make your transition to McCallie go more smoothly and be more productive and enjoyable.
We are very proud and excited that you have selected McCallie as the place to continue your education. I hope the coming years are both rewarding and memorable for you.
Please don’t hesitate to call our office if you have questions or concerns. We want to do everything possible to help you get off to a good start in August. We look forward to seeing you at orientation on Monday, August 17, at 9:00 a.m. in the chapel. Have a great summer!
Upper School Principal
Important Information for beginning of school
Summer Reading: In addition to important information on this web page, we will be posting a link to the summer reading list as soon as it is finalized.
Magnus Health: Please make sure all of your son’s medical forms and vital information are uploaded to Magnus. Magnus can be located in your parent portal from MOSIS. All students will need to have this information submitted by July 16.
Class Schedules: Class schedules will be published in August. You will be able to download classes and schedules at that time. I will send a reminder email with specific information for logging into MOSIS to access schedules.
Bookstore Online Info: Online book sales will begin in August. We recommend ordering books online and picking them up before the start of classes. Look for specific information on purchasing books at the beginning of August.
If you have any questions, please do not hesitate to reach out to us. We are here to help.