From the Principal
e have a diverse school, one in which motivated and talented students and staff work together to promote learning and growth. Our purpose is to help each student develop strong skills, an enthusiasm for learning, and the confidence and discipline to think independently and behave responsibly. Within a traditional liberal arts curriculum, students are challenged, within their ability, to embrace new ideas, listen carefully to others, and develop critical thinking skills in their journey toward independence. All members of the community—including students, parents, faculty and staff—contribute to the spirit of the school. We contribute by acting with integrity and respect for individual differences, by treating others and the environment with care and concern, and by cooperating as well as competing. All assume responsibility for learning by participating in the life of the school, by valuing the accomplishments of self and others, and by striving to excel in all things. Open and honest communication between parents, faculty, and staff is vital to the work of educating children. We encourage parents to call anytime with a question, concern, or suggestion for improving our efforts on behalf of our students.
S. Jill Romans, Ph.D.
Middle School Principal
Academics at a Glance
Middle School students have exciting new opportunities and choices: music, visual arts, and language classes are part of the core curriculum; students can choose to begin a new foreign language and a new musical instrument or continue advanced instruction for those with prior experience; all students receive laptop computers; they have a new social community with approximately 30% new students joining the class through the middle school years. Middle Schoolers have increased academic responsibilities as well as increased freedom.
The academic program emphasizes wide-ranging exploration as well as focused attention on skill development in each discipline. While most Middle School classes are department-based, teachers work together at the grade level to integrate concepts and skills whenever possible. View the 2012-13 Middle School Academics at a Glance.
The Role of Advisory Groups
Advisory groups provide the support students need to develop confidence, make friends, and feel at home.
Advisories are groups comprised of (8-10) students and a faculty member. Advisories meet each morning, as well as two to three additional times per week, providing opportunities for students to interact socially under the guidance and support of an adult. In this way, students begin each day with a sense of possibility for fun and pleasure in learning. The safe structure provided within the advisory makes communication among students more effective and meaningful. Especially at a time of transition to a new school, a safe environment for social exchange, peer recognition, and practicing communication can promote stronger self-esteem.
Advisors are the primary contact for families; they know the students best. Advisors oversee the whole child at school; they serve as advocates for the student, facilitate student-teacher meetings as needed, explore how individual students learn best and help them set goals for each trimester.
At SPA, teachers are trained in Developmental Designs for Middle School, a program rooted in the development of caring communities, healthy relationships, and in the development of self-control, personal responsibility, and responsible independence. Advisory programs with carefully structured meeting formats ensure that every student feels known and included, and that each experiences herself or himself as a significant human being with a valued role in the community.
Service Learning in the Middle School at SPA
Statement of Purpose: Service learning in the Middle School provides opportunities for students to look outside themselves to learn & grow through meaningful participation in service experiences that meet community needs. Service activities, connected to the curriculum and/or our advisory program, empower students to begin the process of building relationships which bond them to the greater community. Students learn responsibility, resiliency and risk-taking as they problem-solve for solutions to real world issues.