Many families who are considering changing middle schools do not know what to expect from the process, which can lead to anxiety and confusion. You want to know that you are making the right decision, and this requires you to understand fully what you and your child can expect from each school you are considering.
That’s why we’ve pulled together this article: To help you understand that when your child enrolls in the Friends’ Central Middle School, they aren’t just enrolling in a program—they’re becoming a part of a community.
“You should expect that your child will love coming to school,” says Middle School Principal Alexa Quinn. “Students here love to learn because their classes are so interesting and active. They feel connected to their teachers and peers because we spend time building a healthy community. They feel engaged because of the countless opportunities they can explore: The arts, athletics, clubs, service projects, affinity groups, and more.”
To help you prepare for the transition, here’s a closer look at what you should expect from Friends’ Central Middle School:
1. Independence and Empathy
Our middle school students are taught to approach learning with a sense of independence and empathy.
Throughout their middle school years, students often crave a greater level of independence in their decision making and in forming their opinions on the world around them. Transitioning from the small, self-contained classrooms of elementary school to the increasingly demanding schedule of middle school is one of the first steps towards independence that students take, along with the responsibility that comes with it.
“Our middle school fosters independence by providing a schedule and curriculum in which there is both structure and choice. When students have supervision and freedom, they are empowered to demonstrate their capabilities and to weigh different decisions with the appropriate support. Doing so engenders a sense of competence and confidence,” says Quinn.
Along with this newfound independence and responsibility, we also work to teach students to understand and value the thoughts and feelings of the people around them. In doing this, our goal is to develop self-aware, analytical, and empathetic middle school students.
Quinn also highlights the fact that most young people are intrinsically empathetic, but it is essential that educators model empathy and make it explicit for them.
She explains, “At FCS we foster empathy by making our values explicit -- that all people deserve to be valued, seen, appreciated and respected. We do this in the culture we create through daily interaction, in how we use our time (community building and serving our community), and through the curriculum. We intentionally look for places in the curriculum to point out places where the belief in our shared humanity made a difference and made the world better.”
2. Self-Confidence and Intellectual Bravery
In addition to independence and empathy, we strive to develop students who are confident in their abilities and who are courageous thinkers. To us, this means empowering students to take charge of their learning without the fear of making mistakes or asking questions.
“In order to develop self-confidence, students first have to feel seen and valued. This happens through our small classes, where every teacher knows every student as a person and a learner, and because this is a community that places kindness and respect at the heart of our value system,” says Quinn.
“In our classrooms, teachers model the importance of taking chances: making an educated guess, getting something wrong on the way to determining the right answer, participating in a group conversation about a challenging topic, and more. This not only demonstrates the importance of taking risk but also the way those risks reward students in their deeper understanding of the material and themselves,” she explains.
Developing confident and courageous learners is an essential aspect of middle school education that prepares students for success in high school and beyond.
3. The Right Combination of Culture and Curriculum
Our combination of challenging curriculum and a culture of kindness is what sets Friends’ Central Middle School apart from other programs.
Principal Quinn explains, “There are many good schools, but our school has this incredibly connected culture with a challenging curriculum. Our belief is that this culture enables us to have the intellectual environment where students can thrive. Having an interesting and challenging curriculum helps students to feel excited about and engaged in their learning community.”
School culture has a tremendous impact on the learning environment and development of students. For instance, having a culture that stresses intellectual bravery and trust mitigates the self-consciousness often seen in middle school-aged children by empowering them to ask questions without the fear of embarrassment.
A central component of our middle school culture is the emphasis that we put on building meaningful relationships. By highlighting the importance of working with peers and respecting the perspectives of others, students learn about the value that each person contributes to learning.
“Our focus on relationships builds an incredible safety net for children at a particularly vulnerable time of their lives. The trust and assurance of relationships allows children to take risks and challenge themselves to higher levels of social competency and academic excellence. I don’t know what greater gift we can give kids,” says Principal Quinn.
4. Outstanding Student Support
Friends’ Central takes pride in the outstanding support provided to each and every middle school student. At the forefront of our commitment to supporting students is our middle school advisory program.
The advisory program is designed to create a strong support system needed to ensure academic success and the healthy personal development of each student. At Friends’ Central, each advisor meets with a group of eight to ten students at least twice a day. Advisors are responsible for overseeing the academic, social, and emotional experiences of their advisees, and acting as a liaison between school and home.
Student support takes place across all levels of the middle school program. Since Friends’ Central classes are small and teachers devote time to building strong classroom relationships, educators are in-tune with the needs of their individual students and are able to recognize when additional support or challenge are necessary.
Additionally, Friends’ Central recognizes that challenging curriculum means that all students face moments they find difficult. To make sure they thrive through these moments, FCS has a full-time middle school learning specialist who ensures that all students receive the support that they need. This middle school counselor works with students in many areas including organization, time management, and study skills.
Becoming a Valued Member of the Middle School Community
Now that you know what to expect from Friends’ Central Middle School, you can get a better sense of whether or not this is the right program to help your middle schooler thrive.
If you are interested in learning more about our school community and what sets us apart, speak with an admissions counselor who can help answer any questions that you might have. Or, to experience our school community for yourself, schedule a tour and explore everything that our campus has to offer.