As part of the necessary growth toward independence, middle school is a time of some uncertainty, when taking risks and trying new things inspire both excitement and worry for students. Within our approach to education, there is room for failure as sometimes these situations provide the deepest teachable moments. Students are guided to a place of self-discovery and are empowered to find the solutions. Teachers help them frame their own questions when solving problems, implicitly stating that they believe in students to push themselves, and ultimately, students begin to understand their own personal learning style and what works best for them.
The Friends middle school program is structured very intentionally, including a model advisory program, to meet the needs of the age group. To guide students through and well beyond the fundamentals of “junior high” academics, Friends emphasizes interdisciplinary learning and group work; oral, written, and artistic expression; participation in sports, service, and ensembles, including an eighth grade musical that involves the entire class; and organizational techniques and study skills.
As part of the Friends Human Dynamics & Development curriculum, the middle school program includes courses in interpersonal and risk-assessment skills (6thgrade), conflict resolution (7th grade), and decision making (8thgrade). The structure of our 1:1 laptop program ensures that all students have the same computer hardware and software, which is both reflective of our mission as a Quaker school and practical in enabling students and teachers to collaborate more effectively.
The Advisory program in middle school provides a setting for students to learn to be organized and responsible, to discuss social concerns, to build trust and to have fun. Advisory groups consist of 10 to 13 students and one teacher. The teacher is responsible for knowing the “big picture” about a student and will be the primary link for communications between school and the parents/guardian.
The mastery program in middle school is a semester or year-long, student-initiated and student-produced project designed to develop that student’s talents, interests, and skills. The emphasis is on achievement and completing a finished product that is either presented or displayed publicly in a polished, masterful way. Mastery projects may include academic research papers, visual and performing arts projects or performances, special teaching units, and physical projects.
WEB Middle School Orientation Program
WEB stands for “Where Everybody Belongs” and is a nationwide program whose purpose is to help sixth graders feel more comfortable as well as help them achieve success in their first year of middle school. The WEB sixth grade orientation and transition program is designed to both welcome and support sixth graders by assigning them an 8th grade WEB Leader as a mentor during this first year. This WEB Leader is a responsible older student who was selected from a large pool of applicants and has met the qualifications of being a good role model and a positive leader on our campus.