Build a Strong Advisory Program

Build a Strong Advisory Program
Build a Strong Advisory Program

Time: 11:00am ET -

Create and implement a thriving advisory program to support your middle and upper school students. Explore core concepts, design models, and recommended strategies for building an advisory program that reflects and supports the mission of your school.

This workshop is now virtual! What that means for you:

We're all in this together. 
Our professional development events offer guidance, support, and insight to help you lead from a position of strength during this unprecedented time. Let's work together to ensure you're equipped to enter the 2020–21 school year with the research and strategies you need to take on any challenge.

deposit iconLimited Time Offer: Deposit and Defer Option 
Attend any Summer Institute workshop with a $250 deposit paid by June 1, 2020. The remaining balance for your workshop is due by December 31, 2020. Email to get started.

team iconTeam savings have been expanded for our summer workshops!
Would more than one of your school leaders like to attend Summer Institute? After your school registers your first workshop participant at the General price, all other attendees qualify for Second Person Pricing for any workshop. Call to register: 302-656-4944.

A thriving advisory program is a difference-maker for middle and upper school students. How does yours rate? In this highly interactive workshop, educators explore core concepts for focusing, enhancing, and building (or rebuilding) the advisory program so that it reflects and supports the mission of the school. This workshop also includes virtual advising implications and strategies.

Exchange a wealth of ideas in small groups with colleagues from the same division. Leave with substantive recommendations for others back home—supported by a comprehensive outline of advisory practices, themes, and activities—as well as an action plan to make it happen.


  • Draft a mission statement for the advisory program that connects to your school’s mission.
  • Explore design models with which to frame the advisory program.
  • Learn and share techniques for engaging students in individual and group advising with an emphasis on the difference between academic and personal guidance.
  • Be able to share “yellow light” and “red light” issues with colleagues at your school.
  • Develop advisory themes and activities to support students in both academic success and personal development.
  • Create strategies to bolster faculty buy-in and professional development as they work with today’s adolescents and their families.
  • Explore strategies to assess your program’s strengths and needs.
  • Draft an action plan with short- and long-term goals.
  • Establish relationships with colleagues to share and exchange ideas.

Who Should Attend:

Middle and upper school educators who are new to advisory, as well as those who want to revamp their advisory programs should attend.

Merritt Livermore

Merritt Livermore

ISM Summer Institute Faculty | Head of Upper School at McDonogh School


Merritt lends her expertise in leading advisory programs at the middle and upper school levels, helping educators focus their programs to reflect the mission of their school.

Current Role

As Head of Upper School at McDonogh School, MD, Merritt leads her school, working with administrators, faculty, and staff to support their students and the community at large.

Prior Experience

A McDonogh alumna, she was previously a Dean of Students and Associate Head in the middle school from 2004 to 2014. In this role, she oversaw the advisory program and served as Co-Chair of the Strategic Planning Committee. She provided in-depth knowledge of K-12 curricular issues and facilitated conversations between divisions and departments to realize emerging goals.

Merritt began her career teaching middle school in a public school system outside of Washington, DC. She also served as an instructional technology coordinator for more than a dozen K-12 public schools. In addition to working with schools as they developed and implemented their technology plans, Merritt coordinated various professional development opportunities for teachers and administrators.

For several years, Merritt served as an Executive Board Member and President of MICCA (Maryland Instructional Computer Coordinators Association), a non-profit organization dedicated to providing leadership for advancing meaningful uses of technology in the educational communities of Maryland.

Merritt has presented at the annual conferences of MICCA and AIMS (Association of Independent Maryland Schools). She has also shared her ideas at several national forums, including the National Council for the Social Studies and the National School Boards Association Technology + Learning Conference.


Merritt earned her bachelor’s degree from the University of Maryland at College Park, MD, and a master’s degree at Johns Hopkins University, MD.

Summer Institute will be held as a distance learning event.

How it works:

Summer Institute will be open from 11 a.m. ET/8 a.m. PT through 6 p.m. ET/3 p.m. PT for the duration of the workshop dates posted.

During that time, you can expect:

  • Two live sessions with your instructor every day, each up to 90 minutes long
  • Flexible time for independent work, connecting with peers, and group learning

This workshop will deliver the same high-quality learning and takeaways you expect from an ISM workshop. Below you’ll find an overview of the topics covered.

Virtual Workshop Schedule (subject to adjustment)


Pre-Workshop Module

  • Welcome and IntroductionsSetting Expectations in an Online Workshop


Day 1

  • Module 1–Getting Acquainted 

  • Module 2–Overview of Mission-Based Advisory

    • The ISM Circle

    • Drafting an Advisory Mission Statement 

  • Module 3–Mission-Based Advisory Program Design

    • Role of the Advisor

    • Program Logistics, including virtual advising implication


Day 2

  • Module 4–Individual Group Advising, including virtual advising strategies

  • Module 5–Group Advising, including virtual advising strategies



Day 3

  • Module 6–Bolstering Faculty Buy-In

    • Empowering Reluctant Advisors

    • Hiring and Onboarding New Hires

    • Marketing Your Program

  • Module 7–Evaluating Your Program

    • ISM Comprehensive Faculty Development

    • Program Assessment Strategies


Day 4

  • Module 8–Action Plan Work Time

  • Module 9–Sharing Action Plans and Next Steps

    • Reflections on the Workshop


This workshop will be held virtually. You'll receive information after you register. 

How will ISM communicate workshop information with me?

It is essential that your school approves the following email addresses from ISM:


You will be receiving all communication—including your confirmation email and access to your workshop's Google Drive account—from these e-mails.

What does my registration fee include?

All workshop materials are included.


Event Confirmation and Cancellation Policy

We take the health and safety of our school leaders seriously.

In an abundance of caution and to protect the health of all participants, ISM will hold its 2020 Summer Institute and Advancement Academy as distance learning events.

Should ISM cancel an event, we ensure a 100% money-back guarantee for all registrants—so you can buy with confidence. You can feel free to direct any questions to

Confirmation and Cancellation Policy

Tuition Payment and Cancellation Policy for ISM’s Professional Development Events

Tuition must be paid in full 10 business days prior to the start date of the event. An attendee with a balance due on the start date will be denied entrance to the program until the balance is paid in full.

Cancellation requests must be made in writing by emailing, faxing to 302-656-0647, or mailing to: Event Experience Manager, ISM, 1316 N. Union St., Wilmington, DE, 19806.

  • Cancellations received more than 15 business days prior to the start date of the program will be fully refunded. Gold Dollars will also be fully refunded.
  • Cancellations received less than 15 business days prior to the start date of the program will not be refunded.
  • Non-payment of tuition or no-show to the event does not constitute a cancellation. Full tuition will be due and payable.

The Substitution Option and Wallet Option

If a member of your team can no longer attend a workshop for which they have registered and it is past the cancellation window, your school has two options to avoid penalty. Schools may also exercise these options at any time for cancellations. 

  1. The school may substitute another employee.
  2. The school may bank the funds for a future ISM registration. These funds must be applied to a professional development event within one year from the start date of the original workshop. After one year, the funds will be forfeited. To use banked funds, please call the Event Experience Manager at 302-656-4944 x152.

*We DO NOT accept enrollments from consultants.


Our Guarantee

ISM believes in providing quality and excellence in all of our events and in ensuring the satisfaction of everyone who attends. Nearly 100% of our participants say they would recommend our events to their colleagues. If you are not satisfied with your event for any reason, ISM will credit the fee you paid toward another similarly priced workshop or will refund it.

If you have any questions, click below to send us an email. 

Workshop Registration

Register for your workshop online by filling out the form below. If you'd prefer to register by PDF, download our registration form. It can be returned via email to or faxed to 302-656-0647.


If two or more team members from your school are registering for this workshop, fill out the form below for the first registrant. Click "add to cart" and select Add Another Attendee from the cart menu.


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