So now that we understand what is happening, is it possible to reverse the negative stereotype associated with middle school? The answer is yes! Celebrating its 15th year, the Calvert Middle School has made a science of middle school education, rejecting the notion that these are years to be endured or tolerated for the greater reward of high school.
Middle school does not have to be that thing that we pass through, quite the opposite. Middle school should and can be an incredibly rewarding time in a child's life. It may also be the last opportunity to establish the habits of mind that will carry your child successfully through high school and beyond. Being a K-8 school with teachers who are trained experts, dedicated to either lower or middle school education, Calvert has the ability to focus our attention on these all-important early years and the emotional, cognitive, physical changes that define them.
Beginning in fifth grade, Calvert provides middle school-specific programming designed to acknowledge and properly direct and manage the changes taking place in our students’ lives. Emotionally, Calvert provides a community where every student is known. People often talk of needing a ‘larger pond’ for the middle school years, while in fact, the opposite is true. Calvert’s Middle School is a place with rich extra-curricular offerings and a culture that encourages children to try the new without fear of failure. This is how our boys and girls will come to discover their likes, dislikes, and in many cases, their life-long passions.
Middle school students need small communities where they not only feel known and loved, but where they have room to try a variety of activities - art, music, drama, athletics, STEM-inspired clubs, community service, the list goes on. Each activity provides multiple opportunities for exploration -- for example, Calvert's annual middle school musical not only provides a platform for theatrical expression, but also a chance to try stage management and set design. Similarly at Calvert, our comprehensive Student Leadership Program is given even greater significance when tied into our community service and student-led diversity programs.
Students at this age are looking to experiment and to experience life; because of this, they still very much need guidance and structure. At Calvert, we appreciate this and design numerous opportunities that challenge our middle schoolers in healthy and appropriate ways. We understand that when schools do not provide students with opportunities to test their boundaries, the boys and girls are more likely to engage in unsupervised risk-taking behaviors.
We also see our co-educational model as an enormous benefit to young adolescent development. It is essential for boys and girls to be together during these formative years. Not only does this allow our students to see themselves and their peers as role models, but it normalizes and fosters appreciation, respect, and value for themselves and those of other gender identities. The world has recently shown us, and with far too great a frequency, the complicated and complex impact on both men and women who never learned to value and empower one another as equals in all aspects of life.
This understanding starts early and can be reinforced in rich and meaningful ways during these middle school years. At Calvert, we foster this understanding among our students in implicit and explicit ways.