Middle schoolers at Lesley Ellis form a community of serious learners, working hard with peers and teachers in pursuit of academic, social, and emotional growth. The dedicated team of middle school faculty know their students well during this distinct four-year experience, and they develop deep relationships that transform each student’s journey in both intentional and unexpected ways. Course content, classroom activities, and leadership opportunities reflect our middle schoolers’ increased maturity and recognize their growing capacity for a robust academic experience. At the same time, an emphasis on kindness, awareness, and respect characterizes both our program and school environment and provides the social and emotional support that early adolescents need during this critical developmental period.
Middle school should prepare and inspire students to contribute meaningfully to their school and wider communities. Lesley Ellis teachers are committed to helping each Middle School student become a well-informed, responsible, caring, and productive citizen.
Throughout the thoughtfully designed, dedicated middle school space there is a palpable intellectual energy that manifests itself every day through lively debate, constant questioning, and earnest investigation. Fifth through eighth graders discover the nuances of learning, as they benefit from:
- the cultivation of mature scholarship and immersive intellectual pursuits;
- an expanding palette of artistic opportunities;
- the addition of competitive interscholastic athletics;
- extended investigation into ethical behavior and decision making;
- the practice and application of 21st century problem-solving skills;
- collaborative learning cohorts;
- deepening connections with dedicated faculty and staff;
- the application of leadership skills in a global context.
As students grow emotionally, physically, and intellectually, they are mentored, challenged, encouraged, and celebrated by expert faculty. Our teachers know just how much to push (understanding each student’s unique educational journey), and they know how to turn every misstep into an opportunity for growth. The resulting foundation of trust between teachers and students creates an atmosphere in which students are willing to embrace difficulty and risk failure in the pursuit of knowledge and growth.
An ambitious academic curriculum in middle school helps students become confident, independent thinkers, with the ability to express themselves both orally and in writing, as well as through a wide range of artistic media. As expert educators practice diverse teaching methodologies, learning becomes deep, authentic, and relevant, and students take time to explore and understand their own best modes of learning. “Do I learn best by reading? By writing? By listening? What combination of research and retrieval works best for me?” As students become more independent they also become better equipped to work collaboratively. They start to understand what it means to learn and more importantly, how to learn, through inquiry, partnership, and reflection.
Dedicated spaces for learning and socializing, an expanded repertoire of artistic and athletic outlets, and nurturing relationships formed with supportive mentors promote responsibility, independence, and the discovery of new passions. A rigorous, engaging curriculum helps secure a broad base of knowledge. Critical thinking, problem solving, analysis and reasoning are woven throughout all aspects of the middle school experience.
The Lesley Ellis anti-bias curriculum and social justice program is infused throughout all curricular areas, with an emphasis on developing a deepening cultural consciousness and an understanding that every individual has the power to transform the world. Focused discussions enable students to construct a confident identity, practice empathetic and just interactions in diverse situations and with diverse groups of people, and develop the skills needed to stand up for oneself and others in the face of injustice.
When confronted with discriminatory expressions and /or actions, middle schoolers are challenged constantly to consider issues that pertain to inclusion, empathy, and activism. The middle school anti-bias curriculum recognizes differences as fundamental and confronts troublesome issues rather than glossing over and dismissing them. Our goal is to foster the growth of positive self-concepts, while discouraging attitudes of superiority and ethnocentrism in ourselves and in those around us.
Though students are welcome to join the Lesley Ellis middle school in fifth, sixth, or seventh grades, they will benefit most from the four-year continuum that provides uniquely consistent and meaningful working relationships between teachers and students. The core team of teachers forms true partnerships with middle school students—not only through four years of academic, social, and emotional development, but also through many of life’s pivotal adolescent milestones. As a result, teachers know their students deeply—initially as the individual student within a class context—and then as the student on a multi-year journey, navigating and demonstrating growth in every corner of school life.
With combined homerooms (grades 5/6, and 7/8), teachers that focus on two-year multi-grade classrooms, teachers that overlap multi-grade classrooms, and subject teachers that teach all four years, the team concept evolves into a team approach, coinciding with students’ evolving academic and social needs. As such, there are abundant opportunities for students and faculty to know each other well, develop mutual trust, model what it means to be a respectful, ethical citizen, and learn together through inquiry and reflection.
The multi-grade experience benefits middle schoolers by:
- providing continuity in instruction;
- building long-term transformative relationships;
- providing expanded leadership opportunities as older students mentor incoming classmates;
- broadening social circles and friend groups.