Middle School Program

IMG_7920We believe middle school and early adolescence offer a wonderful opportunity to ignite students’ imagination and curiosity during a time of great change, much excitement, and many challenges. A successful middle school experience is essential for students to remain academically engaged as they journey into young adulthood.

In 2014, The Schoolhouse expanded its elementary program to include a separate middle school (grades 6, 7, and 8). Now the same nurturing instruction and Schoolhouse philosophy is available for our older students. We call them the “Deltas.”

 

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The middle grades program builds upon what we have offered for over 40 years: small, multi-age classes, a focus on critical thinking and academic engagement, opportunities for independence and leadership, and an explicit commitment to social and emotional learning. Each of these elements is important to students’ success.

 

Delta students:
  • enjoy learning that is relevant, challenging, personally meaningful,
    and connected.
  • love scientific exploration and analysis and have the chance to work
    on “real world” projects.
  • value opportunities to work both independently and collaboratively.
  • benefit from an environment that supports deep learning and
    self expression, whether writing in field journals, conducting research
    projects, or expressing themselves through art, literature, or music.

 

Outside the Box, Outside the Classroom

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The Schoolhouse middle school program combines classroom offerings in the fundamentals—math, language arts, science, and social studies—with field-based activities in the broader community and in the natural world. We believe that open-ended, hands-on learning experiences lead to a lifelong curiosity and love
of learning.

Field experiences naturally interweave with classroom activities and spawn new
ideas and inquiry. Students take a lead in their own learning and, with the guidance
of our middle school teachers, the curriculum becomes organically integrated and
richly layered.

Field-based activities might include:
  • working with local farmers.
  • collecting macro-invertebrate samples from the
    school’s wetlands for classroom study.
  • planning wetlands restoration projects with local experts.
  • surveying forest land and recording tree measurements and growth.
  • connecting with local charities about food insecurity and
    homelessness, and organizing activities to advocate for change.

 

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Healthy Growth Requires Strong Roots

At a time in their lives when they need freedom and new challenges, middle school students also benefit from secure relationships and a safe space to grow into new roles as leaders and mentors. Although our middle school curriculum is independent of the elementary program, the two remain firmly connected.

Students of all ages share lunch and recess together. Several times a week, the Deltas join the all-school circle meeting that begins and ends each day. Older students are able to continue their relationships with younger friends and—just as importantly—with teachers in all grade levels. Deltas, like their elementary peers, share responsibility for the whole school space; they have daily jobs, including collecting the recycling and compost from the kitchen and classrooms. These strong connections and daily communal work form a solid base and a springboard for the Deltas.

 

Leaders & Mentors

IMG_2855Deltas step into more formal leadership and mentoring roles with the younger students. For example, they are reading buddies with children in the preschool program. Each Delta is partnered with a single preschooler for the whole year; they get to know each other well. The Deltas model a love of reading, and they learn about emergent literacy along the way.

 

Deltas also schedule time to present their research topics to the younger students, often using handmade or electronically-made visuals and slideshow presentations. It’s a great opportunity for public speaking and information sharing in a supportive environment. They also act as curious explorers during the elementary school’s annual science display day, encouraging the younger students and asking fun and insightful questions.