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“Don’t let anyone look down on you because you are young, but set an example for the believers in speech, in conduct, in love, in faith and in purity.” – 1 Timothy 4:12
During the middle school years, students experience a period of intense growth in many areas: physical, intellectual, emotional, and social. With that in mind, we have designed a middle school program which addresses the developmental needs of our students. Students in grades six through eight have some relatively similar characteristics in various areas. These include the following:
Physical: increased concern about physical appearance, accelerated physical development, fluctuations in metabolism that result in periods of both high energy and listlessness, rapid brain growth.
Intellectual: intense curiosity, short attention span, need for relevance in learning, independent and critical thinkers, respond to choice, able to think abstractly (questioning ideas, establishing goals, thinking about how they learn).
Emotional: fluctuating emotions, high anxiety, extreme sensitivity, ambivalence , extreme self-consciousness, searching for identity and acceptance.
Social: desire for independence, sensitivity to peer pressure, changing behavior/needs/interests/priorities, challenging authority while needing guidance, fiercely loyal to peer groups.
It is our desire to support our middle school students during this often confusing and overwhelming time in their lives by providing them with a safe haven for learning and growth. Our teachers are sensitive to the needs of students, attempting to provide both the emotional support they need as well as the best academic environment capable of supporting their changing intellectual capacity. Our program is designed to focus on the National Middle School Association’s “Fourteen Characteristics Crucial for Effective Middle Level Schools.” These include…
- Educators who value working with this age group and are prepared to do so
- Courageous, collaborative leadership
- A shared vision that guides decisions
- An inviting, supportive, and safe environment
- High expectations for every member of the learning community
- Students and teacher engaged in active learning
- An adult advocate for every student
- School-initiated family and community partnerships
- Curriculum that is relevant, challenging, integrative, and exploratory
- Multiple learning and teaching approaches that respond to their diversity
- Assessment and evaluation programs that promote quality learning
- Organizational structures that support meaningful relationships and learning
- School-wide efforts and policies that foster health, wellness, and safety
- Multifaceted guidance and support services
As NMSA executive director Sue Swaim insists, “When all of these 14 characteristics are in place in middle level schools, young adolescents have the best possibility of reaching their full potential.”