At Friends Meeting School we recognize the specific and unique psycho-social needs of middle schoolers. We define the middle school as grades 5 through 8.
Students experience many stressful transitions during their years of schooling: from home to school, elementary to middle school, middle to high school, and high school to college or work. These transitions are major trials in the lives of students, often because they coincide with physical, emotional, and cognitive development. In general, it is not uncommon for students in middle school to become less satisfied with school and life.
At Friends Meeting School we work to create a safe, welcoming, fun and interesting environment that responds to the specific needs of this age group, thereby reducing the stress they experience with the changes happening in their lives. We work hard to faciliate the process by which students discover who they are.
Common themes that run throughout a child's education at FMS are the 4 R's: Respect for self, Respect for others, Respect for the environment, and Responsibility for one's actions and one's inactions. The years in Middle School are a time when students really start learning and living these themes.
Socially and psychologically, middle school students are developing relationships outside the family. They begin to see themselves as independent individuals. At FMS we begin to give the students more freedom, flexibility, and independence in their studies in Middle School. We expect them to complete assignments and projects as directed by their teachers, but with less help from their parents. Students may be graded less on factual content than on how they conceive of and develop a theme, and the critical analysis that supports their conclusions.
With this freedom comes greater expectations and responsibility. At FMS Middle School students come to realize that school, friendships, family, work, and life all require effort in order to succeed. Students are allowed, within reason, to make mistakes- this with the intention that they learn from those mistakes. It is important for students to realize we all make mistakes but what sets us apart is our ability to recover from those mistakes. And even though they will make mistakes, it is extremely important that students experience success and the joy of learning throughout their school experience.
Although we sometimes combine grades, the differentiated lesson plans created by our teachers keep students engaged and challenged at the highest level of their cognitive ability. It is not uncommon for students at one grade level to join students in a higher grade for classes in which they have above grade level ability.
The curriculum is taught within the context of the greater world and social justice. Frequent field trips to provide community service, meet neighbors and businesses or going to museums and nature centers help our students integrate what they learn in their more formal classes. Experiential learning, while important at all age levels, is especially important in middle and high school.
At FMS we use our 54 acre campus as a learning laboratory. The students see first hand the flora and fauna that is native to the area. Butterfly and vegetable gardens as well as the nearby creek running through our woods attract all types of nature and students go outdoors on a regular basis to study and explore the environs.
Many parents are surprised to find their children performing on stage as often as they do. Students experience music and drama as a regular part of their day-to-day school experience. These non-threatening experiences help the students express themselves in creative ways while they develop new skills. They frequently perform for both the student body and for parents and friends.
The FMS experience is a progressive, continuum of education. Students who transfer from other schools have little trouble making friends and adapting to the program.
In short, FMS expects our Middle School students to assume leadership roles within the School and the greater community and gives them the tools they need to succeed in those roles.