One of the things that differentiate our program from other school programs is that in addition to offering a strong academic program, we believe that students’ social-emotional development also need to be prioritized. Students learn best when they feel safe and welcomed by their teachers and peers, and when the curriculum is culturally responsive in that it affirms students, it validates them, and provides opportunities for them to deepen their understanding of the concepts taught and helps students process content so that their learning sticks. We provide a rigorous, differentiated classroom learning environment in all classes. Each student takes the following classes:
Enrichment Wheel (6th grade) or an Elective (7th/8th grade)
In addition to the differentiated instruction that happens across all classes, we adapt our program to meet students’ unique learning needs. This means that we offer stretch opportunities for students who are ready to advance beyond grade level by offering advanced math classes, an honors English program, and advanced elective options in technology, band, orchestra, and art. We also offer a variety of academic supports for students who are struggling to meet grade level standards. These supports include one-on-one and small group support during our advisory/tutorial period, after school tutoring, and intervention classes in English and math.
We support students’ social emotional development in a variety of ways including:
Where Everyone Belongs (W.E.B.) Program: 40 of our 8th grade students become trained school leaders and run our 6th grade orientation and mentor students throughout the year.
Advisory/Assembly Program: This program is specifically tailored to support students to build deeper relationships with their peers and to reflect about how to be their best selves as they navigate the challenges of middle school.
Student Leadership class: Provides students with an opportunity to develop their leadership skills and provides opportunities for them to run various student activities including Mix-it-up days, Spirit Week, School Dances, and Cultural Heritage Months.
Intra-mural and After School Sports Program: Provides opportunities for students to participate in a variety of sports, including: Volleyball, Basketball, Track & Field, Flag Football, Soccer, and Ultimate Frisbee
Counseling Program: Our team of Licensed MFTs and Social Workers provide short and long-term individual and group counseling to students in need of counseling services.
Restorative Justice Practices: Community building and responsive approaches based in restorative justice and communication theories and practices.
Coordination of Student Services Team: A multi-disciplinary team that coordinates interventions for students who are not experiencing success in our school community.
Student Clubs: A variety of student groups that meet at lunch based around student interests. Clubs include: book club, Arts & Crafts, Unity Circles, Queer/Straight Alliance, and many more
GOLD After School Program: Provides homework support and enrichment to students daily until 6 pm.
How Social Justice is Embedded in our Program
Our social justice mission starts with the professional development of our staff. Our staff receives ongoing professional development in culturally responsive teaching practices, restorative justice practices that support building a safe and respectful classroom and school community, and provides opportunities to self-reflect about the ways in which our own identities and life experiences influence how we approach our work with students and how students may perceive us. Our Common Core Standards-aligned curriculum provides opportunities for students to “look in the mirror” (see their own identities and experiences reflected) and to “look through the window (to be able to see and learn about others’ perspectives and experiences). The windows and mirrors philosophy is most closely aligned to our English and Social Studies curriculum. Once per year we hold a social justice teach-in, in which we take a day to study a social justice leader who has led significant change, and to reflect about the lessons that that leader’s actions can teach students about what it means to lead in the present. Our graduates will leave our school with an ability to build meaningful relationships with a diverse group of students across racial, cultural, gender, and socioeconomic boundaries, and our hope is that students will be inspired to be agents of positive social change in their communities.