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Strengthening Our Middle Schools Next Fall

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The transition to middle school can be exciting and challenging, especially for new sixth graders. That’s why middle schools are getting a powerful boost through the SPPS Achieves Strategic Plan, beginning in the 2019-20 school year.

The middle school model – based on the Association of Middle Level Education (AMLE) – centers around a team of teachers and advisors who work together to meet the academic and social-emotional needs of a common group of students. In contrast, the typical junior high sees teachers often working independently with different groups of students and with little collaboration around serving student needs. SPPS no longer uses the junior high model. 

Middle School Model
Core Subjects (Science, Math, Reading/Writing, Social Studies)

middleschool

 

VS.

Junior High Model
Core Subjects (Science, Math, Reading/Writing, Social Studies)

Junior High

 

So what does this mean for the classroom?

“Teachers will have a specific time during each school day where they can come together and examine how they're teaching and how students are learning,” said Amanda Herrera-Gundale, Program Manager for Middle Schools. “They’ll be able to reflect on common instructional practices and make changes based on student needs.”

The initial school sites set to strengthen their practices include K-8 schools and 6-8 middle schools, including the District’s new E-STEM Middle School.

“As a new school, we have the opportunity to start small with our sixth graders this fall,” said Jocelyn Sims, principal of E-STEM Middle School. “We are thinking outside the box to build relationships and a culture centered around the middle school model, and to put students first in everything we do.”

Academics are not the only focus. Teachers, counselors, social workers, and support staff will provide students with lessons that help them navigate peer conflict, friendships, bullying, stress and anxiety.

Other changes include more college and career programs, expanding Writer’s Workshop to sixth grade and adjusting school schedules to a seven-period day to allow time for flexible scheduling, electives and a whole class period for the Foundations Advisory class.

Foundations is an advisory class to help ease the transition for students from elementary to middle school. The class helps build community, creates a connection between students and their team of teachers and focuses on academics, digital citizenship, social-emotional learning, and college and career topics.

Though the middle school model is not new to SPPS, the SPPS Achieves Strategic Plan has set the stage for a consistent middle school experience that is challenging, empowering and equitable for all students.

 


Sites that will roll out the middle school model this fall include:
American Indian Magnet School  •  Battle Creek Middle School  •  Capitol Hill Gifted and Talented Magnet  •  E-STEM Middle School  •  Farnsworth Aerospace 5-8 Campus  •  Hazel Park Preparatory Academy  •  Highland Park Middle School  •  Linwood-Monroe Arts Plus  •  Murray Middle School  •  Parkway Montessori  •  Ramsey Middle School

Learn more about the middle school model at spps.org/middle.
Learn more about the District’s new E-STEM Middle School at spps.org/estem.

 SPPS Achieves