Our school mission calls for teaching citizenship
Adolescents need just as much direct instruction and practice with social skills as younger children — it just needs to look very different from the elementary program in order to meet their developmental needs. By teaching students to be honest, assertive and inclusive, Gateway’s Middle School prepares them to navigate the challenges of the broader world, secure in their self-understanding. Students are guided toward independence as they develop their own distinct voices, taking ownership of who they are as individual thinkers while developing character, confidence, creativity, flexibility and curiosity. Our Middle School also actively seeks to engage a strong sense of community. Students learn to become curious about how other people think and see the world, to recognize that their own thinking can benefit from considering new perspectives, and to celebrate the diversity of voices and perspectives within the school that make our community strong. Through our approach to developing children simultaneously as individuals and as members of the community, our students embrace their roles as citizens in service to the school, the region and the world.
Advisory: The foundation of our success
In Advisory, structured interactions and encounters build trust and community within our middle school cohort as students become closely connected to each other, to adults, and to the school. Using the Developmental Designs approach, teachers model and lead students in practicing the critical life skills of respectful greeting, conversation and cooperation. The program helps students feel connected, heard, empowered and safe, while building their competency and providing plenty of fun. Students build social-emotional skills and practice empathy and self-control. Advisory provides a structure for faculty to respond to rule-breaking and track student behavior, and is proven to motivate students to pursue improved academic outcomes. Daily practices help us break down cliques and social groups, and eliminate bullying by creating an inclusive learning community in which every child is known and valued.
Emotional wellness is as important as ever
Building on the approaches in use in our elementary program, our middle school faculty integrate both mindfulness and emotional intelligence into the curriculum. Mindfulness, which is practicing awareness of thoughts, emotions, sensations and surrounding environment, helps children improve attention, self-control, emotional resilience, and memory. We teach skills related to emotional intelligence through the RULER approach, which helps our students to recognize, understand, label, express, and regulate their emotions. Taken together, mindfulness and emotional intelligence pave the way for greater well-being and better relationships, as well as increased academic engagement and success. Learn more about RULER here.
In the Buddy Program, older students get as much as they give
One of the great benefits of having a K-8 program is that we create a strong sense of community by fostering cross-grade relationships. From collaborative writing projects to playground games, the Buddy Program gathers monthly for fun, connection and learning. For Middle School students, this is an opportunity to quite literally be the “big kid” and model, teach and lead younger students in fun and learning. By being at the “top” of a K-8 school, middle school students serve as role models to younger students, and gain valuable leadership skills. Ask our students, and they’ll tell you that the big kids enjoy and get just as much from Buddies as the little kids! Building these formal relationships with younger students translates into informal relationships throughout the campus, and in turn our middle schools stay more protected from the peer pressures regarding drugs, sex, and other risky behaviors that can permeate unhealthy teenage culture.
Authentic service learning awakens hearts and transforms perspectives
Children want to help others, and doing so builds their self-esteem and confidence. Authentic service learning begins with empathy, as we guide children to connect with the local community, and discover who lives here and the challenges they face. Next, students consider ways they can bring their skills and knowledge to find possible solutions to those problems. Students then move through prototyping and iterating these solutions, before taking them back into the field to try to make a difference. When given the chance, children can make real, tangible differences that improve the world. Through service learning, our students experience connection and outreach, develop greater understanding our community’s needs, and become empowered to make a difference both now and in the future.