Responding to the Needs of the Whole Child

In the Middle School, we continue our strong commitment to serving the whole student. We honor the many opportunities and challenges students face when entering the transitional stages of adolescence, and we actively engage them by:

Providing a consistent, predictable environment that both balances and validates each student’s experience with academic challenge and personal change.

Designing a rigorous curriculum, that through incremental stages, provides students with essential knowledge and skills and challenges them to become independent thinkers. It is a curriculum that is balanced by supports that are sensitive to the social and emotional concerns of students entering adolescence.

Supporting students through adolescent issues and advisory programs that help them to manage their academic workload, daily personal responsibilities, extracurricular activities and active social lives.

Our teachers and two middle school learning specialists are members of grade-level teams, which meet on a regular basis to discuss students and to explore how we can best meet individual needs in the context of the larger learning community. The grade-level team consists of teachers, learning specialists, advisors, a dean, the school psychologist, and the principal. In grade-level meetings, the team seeks to develop the most complete picture of a student and to do this it draws on the collective experience of those who work with the student. This “portraiture” through multiple perspectives opens the door to the development of innovative strategies that draw on the lived experience of each of the student’s many student-teacher relationships. These discussions, while not only useful for addressing issues relevant to a particular student, often generalize to approaches and strategies that benefit a whole group of students. This leads to a deeper and richer educational experience for all students.
Similarly, the learning specialists work to adapt curriculum and teaching methods for students who, for a variety of reasons, require individualized academic support. This results in a ripple effect as all students benefit from these innovative techniques and strategies that are shared with the team. Learning specialists work with students individually and in small groups, and also teach in the classroom setting. A close partnership between the learning specialists and classroom teachers encourages a rich curriculum that meets the diverse learning needs of all students, fostering excellence for all. 
Little Red School House
and Elisabeth Irwin High School

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