Welcome to Middle School!
Middle School is a time of change. Children in early adolescence experience as much physical, mental, and emotional change as infants in their first year of life.
Children are biologically wired to begin separating from us during this stage of development. We anticipate these changes, and recognize them to be a normal part of growing up. Our children are evolving. Our role, as their parents and teachers, must evolve as well.
It is challenging for most of us to step back just a bit and encourage their budding independence. We are accustomed to shouldering all the responsibility and facilitating every aspect of their daily lives. However, to raise healthy, resilient kids, we must let them begin to take ownership of their own lives, and learn to successfully cope with the natural outcomes of the choices and decisions they make. This is a process that takes time.
If we do for our children what they can and should do for themselves, even if the result is not always perfect, we risk undermining their confidence and their willingness to try again and again. We unknowingly eliminate the very experiences that build agency and self esteem. The struggle of adolescence is natural and necessary for a child to become a mature, ethical,high functioning adult.
Social Emotional Learning (SEL)
Social Emotional Learning is a cornerstone of a St John’s education. In today’s world, a person is not considered “well educated” if they do not have good social skills, a commitment to the well being of self and others, and a sense of responsibility for the greater good. Our school mission challenges us to help students develop empathy, morality, and integrity, demonstrated in both word and deed. Accountability, dependability, honor, and compassion for others are traits we most want to foster in our students.
The SEL curriculum serves as the foundation for addressing topics such as digital citizenship, friendship, drugs and alcohol, healthy sexuality, mindfulness, mindset, honor and honesty, nutrition, depression, stress management, and many others. The family atmosphere of Advisory provides a safe environment for students to explore their thoughts and feelings with friends who may or may not share their same perspective. We encourage thoughtful discussions and independent thinking, while respecting the views and opinions of others. We embrace diversity and recognize the value and richness of our eclectic community. We learn from each other and celebrate the opportunities gained for greater understanding and acceptance.
The MS has adopted the nationally recognized SEL program, Second Step to be taught during Extended Advisory. It is specifically designed for 6th, 7th and 8th grades and is based on the five foundational CASEL skills. Advisors will dedicate at least one of the two advisory periods each week to a Second Step lesson, with the second extended advisory period used for follow up discussions, Advisor/Advisee check-ins, and addressing current issues relevant to all MS students.
The MS student body will enjoy speakers, assemblies and additional activities to expand their Advisory/SEL experience. Parents are encouraged to review the Second Step curriculum by logging on to the Second Step website
Your questions are welcomed and I look forward to getting to know each one of you as your children move through our MS division. It is a privilege to work with your kids.
Pat Hamilton, MS Counselor