The beliefs that determine how we teach have been very steady through the years. We wanted to include them here because they say a lot about the school for those who do not know us.
- Fundamentally, we believe that middle school students are rewarding, fascinating people to work with who have a tremendous capacity to learn significantly in many areas, including self-awareness, independence, relationships with others, and understanding the world. We value the middle school years.
- We feel that middle school education must provide a variety of educational situations for students, should seek to expand students’ boundaries beyond the walls of the classroom, and needs to allow students to be active in their learning, with opportunities for creativity, exploring their own ideas, and reflection.
- We feel students learn better—in both social and academic arenas—when there are differences among the students in the classes. Our admissions process tries to select for diversity in each grade in the areas of personalities, academic abilities, interests, and backgrounds. Our job as teachers is to bring out the strengths in that diversity.
- We are committed to creating situations in which students work to help others in significant ways, both within and outside the school community.
- We value relationships between and among teachers and students that are close and multi-faceted. Our goal is to know each other as whole people. Small class sizes are fundamental, and we also believe that it is critical for teachers and students to interact with each other in a variety of formats or pursuits.
- We know that for us to feel successful, we have to address the personal, social, and ethical dimensions of our students as well as their academic needs.
- We support and encourage each student in stepping beyond what is already known and comfortable in order to grow, even if it leads to what could be viewed as “mistakes.” We strive to understand and value the pathway each student is following and try to create an environment based on caring and respect that feels safe. We assume that students will make mistakes, behaviorally and academically, and that it is our job to make sure these mistakes are opportunities for growth and increased understanding.
- We promote collaborative work and supportive relationships. Even in competitive situations that we encounter, we strive to continue to support each other and to recognize and respect individual differences and accomplishments.
- We consider it vital that we listen to and treat children with respect, and also that we emphasize to them the importance of behaving responsibly. We believe that with responsibility comes freedom, and vice-versa. We draw our students’ attention to that relationship frequently.
- In a similar vein, we believe that teachers do their best when allowed enough autonomy to pursue their passions in teaching, and we value the expertise that teachers bring to their classes.
- In evaluating student progress, we value communications that can address the different ways in which a student performs in our varied curriculum. We use conferences and written comments to evaluate significant portions of a year’s work. We believe that it is critical to focus our evaluations on what growth an individual student has accomplished and where he or she needs to continue to grow and improve.
- It is important for each student’s success that parents support and understand the education we are offering. Good communication is a critical component of promoting their positive involvement.
- The underlying structure that facilitates success in all these areas for us is small class sizes in a small school staffed by people who know middle school students well and care about them deeply.