The Student-Teacher Connection

At Menlo, a teacher’s role goes beyond the classroom. That’s why our faculty members spend so much time meeting one-on-one with students, coaching them in their academic and personal lives.

WBAL track meet at Menlo School. Photo by Jon Goulden.At the center of Menlo’s mission is a deep commitment to the development and welfare of each student. The adults at Menlo—teachers, coaches, counselors, and staff—create close, respectful and inspirational relationships with their students, promoting courage, integrity, and ethical behavior. Special programs focus directly on students’ personal well-being.


The Menlo School Advocacy Program provides a safe place to develop supportive relationships between a student and his or her advocate as well as between a student and his or her peers.  The advocate provides a positive adult presence in the student’s life which is seen as vital for a successful Menlo School experience.  As a significant adult, the advocate can become a guide, a facilitator, or a mentor for the student, his or her family, and the faculty.  The advocacy program bridges home, school, and real-world concerns. Upper School advocates stay with their students for all four years. Middle School students get a new advocate each year as Middle School advocates are members of the grade-level team.

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Menlo School is a relational campus. Teachers and all staff thrive if they feel closer to their students (we are hard-wired for relationships). This way of thinking—how to enhance relational teaching, while continuing to nurture the student and advocate bond—will lead to a harmonious, well-balanced campus, head and heart.
Dr. Ellen Honnet, Director, Stanley King Counseling Institute


Menlo has three credentialed school counselors—Tracy Bianchi and Jake Fauver in the Upper School and Jake Davis in the Middle School. They are available to students who wish to discuss personal issues in a relaxed, confidential atmosphere. The Counselors also coordinate programs relating to health and social issues, including:

  • Grade and school stress
  • Media literacy
  • Personal challenges
  • Transitions
  • Loss and other issues that adolescents face today

The school counselors provide a confidential setting. They coordinate programs aimed at increasing student awareness of lifestyle choices such as body images, nutrition and wellness, and social issues such as substance abuse, tobacco use, and eating disorders. The school counselors also sit on various parent education committees aimed at increasing parent awareness of issues related to adolescent development. If you have any questions about the counseling program, please contact any of our counselors.

Middle School: Human Skills Program

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Upper School: Freshman Rotation

All 9th graders participate in the Freshman Rotation. This course is designed to give students an opportunity to acquaint themselves with diverse members of our adult community and to explore varied topics that fall outside of the traditional academic program. There are many facets of the Freshman Seminar Rotation series, ranging from ethics and identity to service learning. All are designed to educate the freshman on internal and external facets of Menlo life and beyond.

One of the wellness sections of Freshman Rotation includes a course on Adolescent Topics and Conversation,  taught by the Upper School counselors. Adolescent Topics and Conversations is designed to educate students on current adolescent topics and support students in making healthy choices and aid in the development of social consciousness. The course provides a safe place to learn about, question and experience social issues affecting our society, especially in the teen years. The course helps keep students abreast of issues that may be challenging in adolescence, increases awareness of self and others, and encourages discussion, reflection, empathy and proactive decision making.

The seminar offers opportunities for students to explore their attitudes on topics ranging from peer pressure, substance use and abuse, sexuality and positive decision making to the exploration of teenage brain development. In a rapidly changing world in which young people face many challenges, the inclusion of these topics within our curriculum is welcomed and embraced by the freshmen.