Welcome back to school!
The middle school team, with the support of our amazing middle school assistant principal, Nico Victorino, has launched the school year in a very thoughtful way. Rather than diving right into formal academics and homework, middle schoolers spent the first two days of school building community and awareness.
Students spent significant time in their advisories. Typically, each advisory is made of small groups of grade specific students. This allows advisors to focus the advisory curriculum on age specific needs — from building independence in 6th grade to planning for high school in 8th grade. This year, in addition to those aspects of our advisory program, groups have cross grade partnerships. These partnerships will meet on occasion to engage in community building activities.
This past week, advisory partnerships met together to discuss important topics in the news under the theme of self awareness and global awareness. Students were given options for news items to learn about and discuss. Choices included removal of confederate statues, the events in Charlottesville in mid-August, DACA repeal, and the impact of extreme weather events such as Hurricanes Harvey and Irma. Teachers helped students understand relevant vocabulary and concepts as well as necessary scientific and historical background information. Students then engaged in discussions with each other about the pros and cons of diverse perspectives. As usual, I was impressed with the students’ thoughtfulness, questions, and ability to have complicated and respectful conversations. The work this past week is setting the stage for the complex thinking we expect of our students during the school year. Additionally, it is building understanding of the role of government and the habits of mind and knowledge needed for civic engagement.
Of course, teachers also shared behavioral expectations and reviewed school policies with the students. (Our new student handbook is coming home. Please review it with your child). And teachers and students took time to celebrate community through assemblies.
Students also met new staff members and learned of new roles for some of our prior staff.
Dawn Schafer will be leading the middle school math department again this year. Dawn will be joined by Yoobin Noh (6th grade), Peggy Chen (7th grade), and Saeed Golpoor (Algebra 1). Erika Richardson and Jessica Kuhl will be teaching 6-8th grade science. Jamie Christian will continue to support 6th grade in math and science. Audra Benjamin is returning to our school from a several year stay in Colorado. She will be supporting 7th grade in math and science. Lisa Bartuccelli is joining our staff from a high school in the Bronx. She brings many years of experience supporting students in Algebra 1 and science.
We will continue to have our fabulous social studies team of Natalie (Delmonte) Skeels, Carmen Robles and Mary Valentine.
Katie McGinn is supporting middle school students in literacy. She will be working with small groups of students in grades 6-8. Tamar Goelman continues to teach 8th grade ELA and Maren Aydogan is teaching 7th grade ELA. Jessica Beck is joining our staff as the 6th grade ELA teacher. Catherine Cohl will be the learning specialist in ELA in grades 6 and 8 and Morgan Fusetti is returning as the learning specialist for ELA in grades 6 and 7.
And we are grateful to be able to learn band and chorus with Stephanie Mazarakis and Krista Bruschini, art with Amanda Capalbo, PE with Jon Carey, health with Melissa Kefales, tech with Rachel Lewis, and Spanish with Pooja Shekar.
On September 19 from 6 to 7:30 you will have the opportunity to hear from your children’s teachers at Back to School Night. We look forward to seeing you there.