Boarding School Monitors: Just What DO They Do Anyway?
‘Prefect,’ ‘Proctor,’ ‘Resident Assistant.’ These are all titles that boarding school students earn every year. More important than the title is the responsibility that these students are trusted with. Their duties may vary depending on the school or even on the dormitory in which they live. However, as leaders, they are understood to be the most trustworthy and the most respected students on campus serving as role models and mentors.
At Avon Old Farms, the CT private school for boys, we call these boys ‘Dormitory Monitors’—or ‘Monitors’ for short. At the end of each academic year, rising juniors and seniors are appointed by dorm parents to serve as monitors during the following year. For the rising juniors, this duty may be the first of several leadership positions that they hold on campus. The rising seniors, on the other hand, have had a year of experience and may be waiting for the opportunity to be appointed as a Head Dormitory Monitor, which is one of the highest leadership positions at Avon.
So, Where Do Monitors Live?
Each dormitory has a total of five monitors, one of which is the ‘Head.’ This individual is a student who is a proven leader on campus and his room sits in a central location within the dormitory. The other four monitors are each assigned to a hall of students, which varies from a hall of seniors to a hall of freshmen. This ‘vertical housing’ structure ensures that there is no social separation between the class years. At Avon, it is common to find seniors who are good friends with freshmen resembling an older and younger brother dynamic.
And, What Do Monitors Do?
The monitors’ main task is to be a resource for the boys with whom they live. Anyone who is a monitor has been at Avon for multiple years, so they are well equipped with the tools and know-how needed to be successful. The monitors are available to answer any questions and to provide students with sage advice. These boys are particularly effective when the new students move into their new dorm rooms on campus, as they work to catalyze strong relationships between all of their hall residents. Within a few weeks’ time, the monitor becomes something different to each resident: a friend, a mentor, a brother. Dormitory monitors at Avon play crucial roles in shaping the Avon Old Farms community every year.
Reaping Rewards to Last a Lifetime
The monitors’ duty is a selfless endeavor; however, our monitors are constantly learning about themselves. Every year during Alumni Weekend, Avonians return to campus and frequently recount stories from when they were monitors and how these experiences helped shape them into the men that they have become. I also hear alums talk about how much of an impact their dorm monitors had on their lives at the New England boarding school Avon Old Farms and beyond.
As a former monitor myself, I share the same sentiment as my fellow Avonians, but you all hear enough from me. Therefore, I reached out to a few of our graduates and asked about their personal perspectives on being dormitory monitors at Avon.
Ryan Lanchbury '17
Ryan Lanchbury—a rising sophomore at the University of Richmond—graduated in 2017 and was the Head Monitor of Brown House. He explained that being a monitor at Avon ,“has shaped me into the man I am today. As a monitor, I was given an immense amount of daily responsibility, and it greatly improved my ability to lead in all facets of life at Avon.”
Obum Njeze '14
Obum Njeze—who attended Syracuse University—graduated in 2014 and was a monitor in both Jennings and Elephant dormitories. He told me, “being a monitor made me feel great because I knew that the teachers trusted and respected me enough to provide me with such a crucial responsibility. It gave me confidence.” He went on to explain that being a monitor, “taught me how to be accountable, organized, and vocal. Many years later I have used my monitor experience to be a role model in my community.”
Nick Keroack '18
Nick Karoack—who is presently attending Wake Forest University— graduated in 2018 and was a monitor in Brown House. In his chapel talk to the student body last year, he challenged them to think outside of themselves, leaning on lessons he learned during his time as a monitor:
The bottom line is this: dormitory monitors are crucial resources at boarding school. While every boy has a faculty advisor at Avon, I see our monitors as being just as valuable as student advisors. It is important for the boys to have several trusted resources within a few rooms’ lengths to seek out for advice. Our monitors set the gold standard for what it entails to become a leader at Avon Old Farms, and with that, the younger students seek to emulate this as they develop into the school’s future leaders.
ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Avon Old Farms Class of 2011