Rye Junior High School is a Middle School
Rye Junior High School is a middle school. The name is traditional while education is not. What does being a middle school mean and what is Rye Junior High School striving to do each day?
Let’s start with our charge, what is the mission or challenge of every school? Each middle school should try to reach its students at the door each morning. The National Middle School Association (NMSA) states in their mission:
“Every day, millions of diverse, rapidly changing 10- to 15-year-olds make critical and complex life choices and form the attitudes, values, and dispositions that will direct their behavior as adults. They deserve an education that will enhance their healthy growth as lifelong learners, ethical and democratic citizens, and increasingly competent, self-sufficient individuals who are optimistic about the future and prepared to succeed in our ever-changing world.”
With that in mind, you can see that the Rye Junior High School mission is in line with this philosophy as it states:
“Rye Junior High School will provide appropriately responsive school programs, policies, and practices to meet the particular intellectual, physical, social, and emotional needs of each middle level learner. Young adolescents are talented in unique ways with a personal mix of diverse intelligences. Everyone within the community shares a responsibility for developing and nurturing the whole child. Every young adolescent can learn, and we resolve to make that learning a reality. “
Our middle school is dedicated to fostering high academic achievement and equal access to education within a positive learning environment. Organized on the middle school model, it focuses on the needs of young adolescents. The period of adolescence is a dynamic and challenging period of a person’s life. Only eclipsed by the changes of early childhood (0-3 years old), adolescence is filled with physical, emotional and intellectual changes which all happen at different rates. That is why our students come in all shapes and sizes. From the boy who hits six foot in the eighth grade to the girl reading at a twelfth grade level in sixth grade, students have to find their way through this odyssey with the help of caring and involved teachers. Our instructional team model is used to provide samller learning environments for students and supports the practice of interdisciplinary instruction.
Rye Junior High School establishes many different programs in our building to get to the various needs of adolescents. We have a homeroom advisory in the morning to have students gain a sense of community and camaraderie while connecting with an advisor. Our academic program endeavors to meet the intellectual needs of each student in the core classes through the differentiation of curriculum. Our Unified Arts classes allow students the opportunity to try out different skills in a positive risk taking environment. Our after school activities give students the opportunities to explore interests and pursue their existing areas of ability. Our focus on community service allows students to feel a part of a larger group than in our corner of the world.
A public middle school tries to reach the students that come to its door every day. We, at Rye Junior High School, are working with the wonderful students of Rye who face the challenges of adolescence each day and we need make sure were are appropriately responsive to those needs.
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Rye Junior High School is committed to the development of its students over their three years in our school. Our mission statement focuses on the social/emotional, physical and academic development of our students and the programs we develop to support them. We are a “Follow the Child” school which means we are about developing the whole child.
The Follow the Child initiative was undertaken by SAU 50 in 2007. In his letter to the Commissioner of Education, Dr. Cushing stated:
“Dr. Tracy, the reason our SAU finds the Follow the Child Growth Model so attractive in SAU #50, we look at the whole child. We talk about putting a face behind the numbers of standardized test scores. We are a small SAU that shares a common vision and our teachers and staffs support each other across district boundaries. SAU #50 would welcome the opportunity to take what we are currently doing to the next level. This would involve grounding our instruction in a whole child belief system, and not just measuring the child and the school on a standardized test.”
In our effort to embrace the “Follow the Child” initiative, we have created the Learning Compact. It is our attempt to connect students, parents and teachers in a partnership. There are three components to necessary in creating a successful partnership starting with the Student Information Form (filled out by teachers). This information form is filled out by the student’s teachers electronically to pass to the receiving team to help new teams differentiate their instruction. The Partnership with Parents Form (filled out by parents) is the second component of this compact. The Partnership with Parents form is sent out each summer solicits input from parents about their sons and daughters. The Goal Setting Process for students allows for students to outline their hopes and dreams in long term and short term goals. Goal Setting is done early in the school year when energy is high and goals are better to set. The research says that students reach those goals that they set for themselves when they write them down 85% of the time. So we have them write them down. The parent and the teacher work together to help support the student in reaching their goal. These three components all work together to bring the greatest success for students.
Rye Junior High School employs the three components of the Learning Compact as a middle school should. We balance the need to share information, collect information, and set students in a positive direction with the overall needs of adolescents in all we do.
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We have started our first year of advisory in our homeroom system. We made the transition from the traditional homeroom where students received the daily announcements and attendance was taken each morning. We have, in this first year of implementation, included an extended block on Fridays where a variety of activities take place such as community building, goal setting, time management, the creation of good study habits, and maybe even sharing breakfast.
National Middle School Association defines an advisory program as an arrangement whereby one adult and a small group of students have an opportunity to interact on a scheduled basis in order to provide a caring environment for academic guidance and support, everyday administrative details, recognition, and activities to promote citizenship. This is what we will strive for over the next several years. Advisory programs are an intricate part to a middle school. Although we are a small school, these smaller groupings allow for relationships to form within these small groups. An advisory creates a dynamic where an adult can advocate for students within school where challenges abound no matter how supportive the environment. Each year we work with the program to learn more from our experiences and grow professionlly around the topic of advisory.
These concepts are nearly synonymous with the goals of the Learning Compact. The main purpose of the advisory is to institute the Learning Compact. That is Rye Junior High School’s intent and we hope your students will benefit. Give us input along the way.
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