Middle School Q&A

List of 9 items.

  • 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.
  • 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. 
  • 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. 
    • Flexibility: We can take advantage of community opportunties as they arise and are related to the overarching theme.
  • 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. 
  • Are extracurricular activities available?


    Inspired by students.
     Friends Middle School offers enrichment activities inspired by the students. We will offer a range of options that may include: 
    • Field Hockey
    • French
    • Art
    • Advanced Circus Arts
    • Running Club
  • 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 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.
  • 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.
  • 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.

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
    Bio