Middle School

Friends Middle School is OPEN!
Friends opened our middle school for the 2016-17 school year on a new campus at 3800 Kalmia Avenue in North Boulder. Currently 6th and 7th graders are enrolled and 8th grade will be added in the fall of 2018. We are thrilled to bring a Friends’ education to young adolescents and offer another option for Boulder area families. 

We invite you to learn more at one of our information sessions. RSVP to spawlina@friendsschoolboulder.org or click on a date below. All info sessions are at our North Campus - 3800 Kalmia Avenue, Boulder, CO 80301.

Nov 6, 6:00pm 
Dec 5, 6:00pm 
Jan 16, 6:00pm 
Feb 7, 6:00pm 
Mar 22, 6:00pm
We know what middle schoolers need: 
  • Opportunities to think abstractly and creatively
  • Strong safe relationships with adults and peers
  • Chances to explore who they are and who they want to become
  • Challenging academics that have meaning and relevance now
  • Support for their growing independence
  • Social and emotional support as they move through adolescence
  • To feel valued and have purpose
  • To be exceptionally well prepared for high school 
What we offer: 
  • A place where positive relationships are foundational to all learning
  • Hands-on learning experiences that integrate curriculum
  • Inquiry-based explorations of compelling concepts and questions
  • Student voice and choice in how we approach learning endeavors
  • Meaningful connections in the community through service and research
  • Enthusiasm for the dynamic nature of middle schoolers
  • Outstanding preparation for the challenges of high school
We embrace the essence of middle schoolers, making Friends Middle School a place where students thrive. Contact Director of Admissions, Melanie Leggett at 303-499-1999 x227 to learn more about your child's future with Friends School.

Middle School Q&A

List of 13 items.

  • Are extracurricular activities available?

    Inspired by students.
    In its first year, Friends Middle School will offer extracurricular activities inspired by the students. We will offer a range of options that may include: 
    • Cross Country
    • Ultimate Frisbee
    • Bike club
    • Digital photography
    • Orchestra
    • Debate
    • Cooking club
    • Robotics
    • MathCounts
    • Geography Bee 
  • How are Friends Middle School students enrolled?

    • Current students. Current Friends School students do not need to apply for the middle school. They only need to re-enroll as previously done to move on to the next grade level. Re-enrollment contracts are issued in January. 
    • “Step-Up” day. Beginning in 2016 a “Step-Up” day will be available to our 5th grade students so that they can experience “a day in the middle school” as they consider their school choices. 
    • Our process. When spaces are available and an applicant has completed the steps in the application process, the admissions committee consider a number of factors in finalizing admissions decisions. These include appropriate fit for Friends School, siblings of returning students or alumni, and classroom composition. 
    • Special considerations. Students with unique considerations are thoughtfully reviewed for admissions. It is our goal to provide a successful environment for each student where every student thrives. 
    • Financial status is not a consideration. Admissions decisions are made without regard to financial status. Admission to the school is offered before a family is placed on the tuition scale or financial aid is awarded.
  • How are we ensuring a successful expansion?

    • Lots of planning. While the middle school launch may appear a recent decision, in reality, the Friends School Community Board has been steadily preparing for this expansion for many years. The Board has discussed adding a middle school program for at least 15 years. 
    • Strong foundation. Friends has established a dedicated team that is committed to and focused on launching this project. Thanks to the strong preparation for growth, a foundation of effective educational practices, an experienced Middle School Director, research of emerging best practices and thoughtful development of the program and curriculum we are ready. 
    • Multi-dimensional team. We have several task forces working on the many dimensions of this project ensuring its long-term success. 
    Development Committee is formulating a fundraising campaign plan based on results from an independent fundraising feasibility assessment.
    Finance Committee and a specially created Second Facility Committee critically examine proposed budgets and all sources and uses of funds. These groups have thoroughly researched lending options and are deeply involved in all aspects of the real estate transactions to acquire the second campus.
    Our Community Board provides scrupulous oversight of the finances of the project and authorizes debt and real estate contracts.
    Middle School Task Force is assisting staff in developing the program and in preparing our second campus for the new program.
    Community Experts including our attorneys, consultants, inspectors, building professionals, and other outside firms are all working in conjunction with the Board and staff to support decision-making processes.
  • How do we prepare our students for high school and beyond?

    • Knowledge of Individual Strengths: Individual strengths are nurtured and understood through high standards and clear expectations that allow our students the freedom to stretch intellectual boundaries, and widen personal experiences. 
    • Differentiated Teaching: Differentiated teaching stems from the belief that each student is a unique individual with unique talent and possibility. This approach encourages each student’s success now and into the future. 
    • Research-Based Teaching: Research-based teaching strategies engage middle school students with inquiry-based learning, presentations, projects and integration between subject areas. This approach provides physical and emotional context for learning, ensuring greater recall of knowledge and concepts beyond middle school. 
    • Real World Experiences: We provide experiences relevant to the “real” world to inspire our students to connect what they are learning in the classroom with practical applications. This ensures the relevance of what they are learning in class and nurtures their natural curiosity about their role in the world. 
    • Mathematics: Mathematics classes are ability-based, assuming that each student is appropriately challenged. Math is integrated in other academic areas to demonstrate that math is useful beyond the classroom. 
    • Personal Reflection: Students learn to use reflection as a tool to consider their work, friendships and actions so that they make more thoughtful decisions about who they want to be. 
    • Grades: In middle school grades are used in appropriate ways so that students learn to effectively and independently monitor themselves and the quality of their work, skills that they can carry into high school and college.
    • Skill Building: Over and over we hear from high school teachers and administators that what students need for success in high school is a host of skills for life:
      • self advocacy
      • organization/timekeeping
      • resiliency in the face of mistakes/failure
      • stress management skills
      • self-reflection
      • emotional knowledge & management
    All of these are intentionally addressed on a regular basis, so students graduate as confident, capable, and resilient community members.
  • How is our Middle School different?

    We are different in many ways. It is in the specifics of our approach that the differences are evident. Below are a few examples: 

    • Mission Integration: Through curriculum integration, educational innovation and a focus on personal insight we integrate the spirit of our mission. 
    • Integrated Curriculum: Our integrated curriculum encourages a multi-faceted perspective that connects critical thinking, challenging academics and individual interests filtered through a lens of social connection and community service. This creates a unique, compelling and relevant program. 
    • Social Emotional Focus: Our social-emotional program, based on current research and specific to a middle school student’s development, addresses all aspects of this amazing stage in a student’s life. Everyday issues are addressed in real time so that the learning environment is safe, students are free to focus on their work, personal expression is honored and collaborative projects are productive. 
    • Focus On Reflection: We create daily opportunities and provide many opportunities for individual and small-group learning, reflection and collaboration. 
    • Community Collaboration: Teachers leverage the vast resources of our Boulder community to deepen the learning experience through day trips, field studies, and collaborations with businesses leaders, innovators and artists. 
    • Maker Space: A Maker Space encourages, enables and incorporates design thinking into every lesson ensuring that students are literate in technological innovations and creative tools. 
    • Mini-Courses: Mini-Courses offer our middle school students the opportunity to have new experiences without full semester commitments while expanding their connections to the community, other students and themselves. 
    • Small Classes: Small classes create the flexibility for optimizing individual opportunities. 
    • Program Evolution: The program and curriculum will continue to be appropriately assessed and evolved just as it is in our preschool and elementary programs. As a community of lifelong learners, our teachers and staff are continuously improving their knowledge and what they offer to students. 
    • ERB Testing: ERB testing provides informative data to evaluate program effectiveness and program refinement that is integrated into annual planning. 
  • Is Financial Assistance Available?

    • Available for enrolled students. Financial assistance is available for middle school families as it is for elementary and preschool students. 
    • Growing assistance. We are committed to making a Friends School experience available to all students. Our financial assistance budget, which includes both income tier discounts as well as other aid, and is projected to increases in coming years for all grades. 
    • Thank you. We thank everyone who contributes financially to fund-raising efforts that support this important school program.
  • What about the teachers?

    Our middle school teachers respect middle school students and are grateful to work with this dynamic and wonderful age group. They inspire students through their own enthusiasm for learning, authentic interpersonal connections and vibrant vision. They are dedicated to each student “finding their groove” and reaching their potential.
    • The teaching team. The teaching team includes a grade level dedicated classroom teacher, teaching specialists, teacher candidates, interns and administrators. 
    • Teaching specialists. The middle school team will include specialists in technology, art, math, music, band, and Spanish. 
    • Teacher Candidates. Teacher Candidates may work annually in the 6th grade program.
  • What are the pillars of our Middle School?

    Integration. Innovation. Insight.
    Integration: Integration in the middle school means bringing together multiple academic subjects, student questions, and community resources into a rich, relevant curriculum that inspires students.
    Innovation: Innovation focuses on the use of design thinking, problem solving, curiosity and observation to create ideas, tools, and perspectives that can improve our lives, our community and our globe.
    Insight: Insight is a way of seeing keenly and deeply. It is a powerful tool that enhances how we know ourselves, work with others and observe our world. It alters how we communicate, engage and collaborate. It enhances problem solving and focuses our work. It is a skill that is useful throughout our lives.
  • What is Integrated Curriculum (IC) and why is it a good model for middle school students?

    • Integrated learning is at the heart of a liberal arts education. It requires higher order thinking skills and teaches students to see from multiple vantage points as they gain a deeper understanding of subjects and situations. 
    • Get engaged. “Emotion drives attention, attention drives memory, and memory drives learning.” When students work with others on complex ideas, and make connections in active ways, they develop more than just factual knowledge. They tend to work harder and with more effort and attention than traditional lecture-based classes. They build a larger context for their learning that enables them to transfer their learning to real-world situations. This is longer lasting learning. Games, discussions, field trips, interactive projects, cooperative learning, movement, and the arts integrations are all ways to actively engage with new information and are the core tools of IC. 
    • Know yourself better. The ideas that people have about themselves and the world are shaped by their experiences. Meaningful experiences help us make connections across subject areas, learn in new ways, solve problems and understand ourselves better. Integrated learning creates meaningful experiences.
    • Connect to your education. An Integrated Curriculum helps students personally connect to their learning, identify their roles in the process and their potential within the larger community. In the real world, we solve problems using whatever knowledge and resources we have. Integrated Curriculum helps us access, understand, and make use of all these available resources. 
    • High standards. Our Integrated Curriculum incorporates high academic standards across all lessons, projects and experiences while honoring each student’s individual strengths and challenges. 
  • What is the benefit of a small-school environment?

    • Teachers Know Students: Teachers know their students’ personal goals, interests, challenges, and skills. This knowledge helps teachers focus on individual learning styles, passions and accomplishments. 
    • Students Know Fellow Students: Students know each other well as they regularly work together in a wide range of social, academic, learning and community experiences. 
    • A Social-Emotional Education: A small environment allows for attention to social-emotional conversations, reflection and growth during the complex middle school experience. Brain research confirms that the stress of interpersonal drama, peer pressure, grades and family challenges inhibits learning. Helping students work through social and emotional challenges puts their brains in a better state for learning and retaining knowledge. 
    • Every Student Has A Voice: In a smaller school environment, there is room for each student to have a voice and influence their school experience. 
    • Students Develop Advanced Social Skills: Each student learns social skills such as deep listening, authentic speaking, compromise development, problem-solving, an understanding of personal motivations and issue resolution. In a smaller environment, individuals cannot turn to a different group of students to avoid conflict. 
  • Why expand now?

    • 15 years in the making. The Friends School community has asked for a middle school for more than 15 years. And now is the time to carry our vision forward. 
    • Educational pioneers. As educational pioneers, Friends School has always been out front of innovations, research and the changing needs of our community. Twenty eight years ago, social-emotional education wasn’t on anyone’s radar, but it was the basis of a Friends School education. Today, other schools emulate what has been the philosophical core of our school. We see an opportunity to expand this approach into a middle school to provide students more --- integrating a teaching philosophy that fully embraces the science of how middle school students learn most effectively. We intend to continue Friends School’s pioneering spirit by creating a middle school model that will lead the way for our families and other educational institutions. 
  • Why is Friends Middle School a great thing for parents?

    • Parent education. Friends School provides parent education about the early adolescent years that honors students and helps parents navigate this time in a positive way. 
    • Opportunities to be involved. Friends offers innovative ways to engage in school that supports an independent experience for parents and students. 
    • Stay connected to teachers. Regular communication from teachers will always keep you in the loop. 
    • A strong foundation. You can be confident that your student is receiving an exceptional educational experience based on deep engagement, long tradition, current research and teachers’ knowledge of how students learn best.
  • Why is Friends Middle School good for students?

    • We get them. Our middle school faculty “gets” each student, understands what fuels their engine, supports the developmental needs of this age and engages each student deeply in purposeful learning. 
    • Emotions are positive tools. Our social-emotional foundation and safe learning community help students make sense of their social world and emotions, allowing for better academic learning and self-advocacy.  When students are given tools to talk about their emotions and listen to how their peers are feeling, they are able to apply those metacognitive skills to other situations in their lives for deeper understanding. 
    • Connect to the community. Our middle school gives students a variety of opportunities to engage with the community in authentic and powerful ways that honors the students potential, expands learning and grows confidence. 
    • People skills. Teachers focus on building confidence and life-long skills for working with people in diverse situations. 
    • Celebrate the individual. All students are known by all teachers, valued for their individual strengths, and challenged by a close community of teachers and students to become their best selves. 
    • Traditions are important. Students will participate in some of Friends School’s most cherished traditions, such as Winter Celebration, buddy classes, and the Halloween costume parade. Traditions help us feel a sense of belonging to our larger community. At a time when middle school students may face pressures to grow up quickly and to think of school as less than a joyful and exciting place, these connections provide a different, more nurturing perspective.
"Seeing the Friends philosophy applied in middle school is a dream come true. Middle school is a critical period when social skills are being tested and developed and fundamental attitudes about school are forming and changing. What better time for my child to benefit from Friends’ expertise in developing social-emotional skills and nurturing a love of learning?" 
- Elizabeth Henna, Parent

Curriculum Overview

List of 8 items.

  • Sample Curriculum 2016-17

    This sample curriculum illuminates the process by which our Integrated Curriculum is developed through teacher expertise and student input as well as the resulting content. Read more specifics on Friends' Integrated Curriculum here.
  • Integrated Curriculum

    What is Integrated Curriculum?
    One of the hallmarks of Friends Middle School is our commitment to making learning engaging and relevant for students. The Integrated Curriculum (IC) model ensures that what students are learning is connected to a variety of subject areas. It requires both focused and big-picture thinking. It is built on research that understands how middle school students learn, socialize and succeed.
    We love how the IC model engages students by including their big questions about themselves and the world in the process of determining larger themes of study and holds them accountable for learning and demonstrating deep understanding of new information and new skills. While all subject areas are addressed, they are done so without typical content area delineations. In other words, science is not separated out from social studies, language arts, social/emotional learning and relevant math concepts. They are tied together in meaningful ways that keep students from wondering, “Why are we learning this?”
    Middle schoolers will spend several hours each day with Integrated Curriculum learning activities. Mathematics will continue to be taught separately in order to meet each student’s abilities and needs while a variety of specials and electives are part of each day as well.
    What does this look like in the classroom?
    Our classrooms are hives of activity. They are not always quiet places because learning is both an independent and a social process. READ MORE
  • Mathematics

    Engagement in mathematical learning is best when multifaceted, where students learn grade-level skills as well as complex concepts such as how to see the world from a mathematical perspective.
    Friends’ Middle School incorporates mathematical thinking into all aspects of our Integrated Curriculum studies. Our approach teaches that math is relevant and useful in real-life applications, attunes students to seeing those mathematical applications and reveals patterns in different experiences.
    Students study math in a dedicated math class, building a deep understanding of numeracy, problem solving strategies and abstract concepts. Students are placed in classes that are appropriately challenging where they strengthen their knowledge and successfully master concepts. We offer grade level lessons through advanced classes in Algebra 1 and Geometry. This approach allows students to develop skills in a wide range of mathematical situations. Classroom teachers and math specialists both teach math.
  • Language Arts And Literacy

    We set a wide-range of goals for language arts and literacy. The most important of these goals is to cultivate in each student a love of reading. While reading and comparing various genres, students gain insight to themes in literature that connect all humans. They develop an understanding of the purpose and effects of various literary elements that make reading compelling. Reading non-fiction and engaging in research projects, students learn critical reading skills that allow them to judge arguments, determine assumptions and make decisions in practical applications.
    Writing for diverse and relevant purposes help students to learn writing mechanics, grammar and style. Students gain experience expressing themselves orally and in writing, creatively and accurately, with the ultimate goal of being confident writers with a unique voice.
    We accomplish this within our Integrated Curriculum, leveraging writing and oral presentations for individual assessments.
  • Science

    We build on students’ natural inclinations to ask and answer questions about the world to teach the scientific method. Students practice design thinking (that includes the cycle of empathizing, defining, brainstorming, prototyping, testing, refining, and retesting) through challenging problem-solving experiments. These experiences connect into our Integrated Curriculum themes. Our approach builds confidence, resiliency and a sense of purpose.
    We combine theoretical information from life, physical and earth sciences with practical applications in hands-on, relevant experiences highlighting the interconnected nature of systems. Labs, fieldwork, technological challenges and projects are all avenues that inform our students’ scientific education.
  • Social Studies

    Our social studies curriculum supports students’ growing understanding about people, where we thrive and how we struggle as we live and work together.
    We help students see patterns of human behavior through an examination of historical events and examine how choices impact the present world. Students learn to appreciate challenges and opportunities that various cultures and groups confront while understanding the contributions all make to our current situations. 

    Students learn how geography impacts culture, about resource allocation, and how governmental structures influence citizens. Our Integrated Curriculum helps students develop and deepen their perspectives by providing opportunities to understand how they can have an impact in the community and the world beyond.
  • World Language-Spanish

    Learning another language broadens cultural understanding and helps set the stage for students to engage in global thinking, awareness and citizenship.
    Our Spanish curriculum provides grammatical instruction and conversational practice. We build in relevant topics to better engage students in speaking and understanding the language. Students have opportunities to talk with native speakers in the community as a way of augmenting cultural and linguistic knowledge.
    Varying instructional levels meet the needs of Spanish language learners with a range of abilities.
  • Arts

    Engagement in artistic endeavors aligns with scientific evidence that opportunities for creativity inspire deeper learning and greater personal and interpersonal understanding.
    Students are required to participate in art and music classes. Music, visual arts, technical arts and drama are used to help students learn to express themselves and build their personal identity. In addition, the arts strengthen learning and deepen content understanding in creative and powerful ways. Our program, which includes technical skill building in all creative arts, helps to develop an appreciation of others’ perspectives and unique qualities.
    Art integration provides additional opportunities for students to demonstrate their learning and knowledge in creative ways.

Contact Us

List of 1 members.

  • Shelby Pawlina 

    Middle School Director
    (303) 499-1999 x231
    Tufts University in Medford, MA - BA, Child Study
    University of Colorado, Denver, CO - MA, Educational Psychology