As a Middle School Director, many people ask me why I love to work with early adolescents every day. My answer is so simple: they are amazing; correction – our Swain preadolescents are amazing. Because our community is dedicated to the implementation of research-based best practices, parent partnerships, and hands-on learning, our students develop as passionate, empathetic individuals. We are proud to employ a carefully cultivated group of faculty who genuinely love teaching children and nurturing them to grow into the best version of themselves, a quality we conscientiously seek through every hiring process.
At Swain, our student schedule is optimized to cultivate the best results from kids. This cannot always be said for other schools, where time is allocated by what is best for adults and their busy schedules. Our classes for grades six through eight rotate each day so every subject is offered at a different time every day. Let’s face it, teenagers are not always at their best in the morning! Swain’s rotating schedule gives teachers a chance to encounter all of their students in the classroom at their very best time, whenever that may be for the individual. In addition, our middle school students receive two recess breaks per day. We know that students need to move and take breaks in order to be their best throughout the day. Many schools eliminate recess in middle school – we add to it!
Our Swain kids benefit from advisory activities, wellness classes and choices in our community as a whole where they are directly coached to develop healthy relationships with adults and peers. According to a study by Hanover Research, “Student choice makes students active participants in their educations, thereby increasing levels of engagement” (Pandolpho, 2018). Our students are provided multiple academic and encore options throughout the day. We offer advanced course offerings in math and Humanities, as well as rigorous, high-school level science and Spanish courses. Each semester, our students choose from at least six music ensemble options as well as a plethora of elective courses, which range from entrepreneurship to debate club to creative writing. New elective courses, such as our current debate club, are generated each year around student interests and passions.
You may be asking yourself, ‘Why should my child attend middle school at The Swain School?’ I am asked this question often, and I’m excited to share my response: Swain is a special place that challenges every student to be their best self, to follow their passions both inside the classroom and beyond the school walls, and to develop into empathetic, compassionate individuals. Data shows that students in K-8 schools “learn and achieve more in schools with longer grade spans.” In a study published in the Journal of Early Adolescence, researchers also conclude that, “starting a new school in sixth or seventh grade negatively impacts kids’ motivation and feelings about their academic ability” (Fagell, 2019). The Swain community, especially our talented faculty, supplies the village every student needs to find their path in learning, in relationships, and in life.
Join us this month in celebrating the outstanding faculty who are committed to positively impacting Swain’s middle-level scholars each and every day! Follow our middle-level faculty spotlights on Facebook for the remainder of the month, and then be on the lookout for a glimpse inside our high school placement and counseling services when we’ll discuss “What’s next after Swain?”
By: Megan Franzyshen, Director of Intermediate and Middle Schools
Fagell, Phyllis L. (2019). Middle School Matters. De Capo Press.
Pandolpho, Beth. May 4, 2018. Putting Students in Charge of Their Learning.