Why the Middle Years are so Important

Posted by Claybourne Elliott - 21 August, 2017

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Early in my career, a 6th grade student of mine said, with some consternation, “Why are my friends like different people every day?”  

I recall it so clearly because it neatly summed up what makes the middle years so fascinating, so much fun to work with, and so challenging. I believe that the middle school years are the best! 


The middle school years are the best! 

These are the years of establishing an identity and beginning the road to the independence that leads to the upper school. One of the first steps in that process may be creating some distance from parents, just as the child is most in need of guidance.  

2X0A0811w.jpgThat’s why in the middle school a single teacher model is no longer appropriate. It’s critical at this age for students to have exposure to a wide variety of caring adults, so that they build a broad network of connections who will help support them and guide them.  

Establishing who you are is hard work for a 12-year-old!  You might notice them trying out personas – thus they really can be “different people every day.” 

Growth comes in fits and starts and it has to be hard to be done right. In the coming years, your children need to overcome challenges, test their resolve and learn to make good choices. But here’s where Randolph is different. These years have to be hard, but they don’t have to be bad.  

We teach our students to treat others with a high standard of respect (for peers, for adults, online, and for themselves) – and we provide care and support when they face challenges so that they learn from them and grow into their best selves.   

IDEA PATH-wordsonly.jpgOne way we do this here is by teaching students the steps of the Randolph Idea Path, an approach that informs our K-12 curriculum and gives students the vocabulary and creative approach necessary to be leaders and problem-solvers. All of this is designed to help your child be ready to take on whatever challenges they will face in the years to come, and to do so with confidence in their skills and empathy for others.

We want to work with you towards these goals. If your child is frustrated – if things are edging into bad instead of hard – come see us.  Reach out to your child’s advisor or teacher or our Middle School student support staff – they’re always working on making our school even more student-centered. 

In Middle School, we have two counselors: Vanessa Robinson continues up from the Lower School to work with students as they move into Middle School; Leslie Shelor  begins working with them in preparation for Upper School. We also have two deans – Jennifer Ragsdale, who guides student life and discipline, and Allyson McCloud, whose purview is academics. Sure, there will be bumps along the way, but know that we value the family partnership. 

The Middle School years are the best years, because we get to play a pivotal role in the development of healthy, strong adults at a critical time in their life. Now more than ever, it’s important to help them build skills that they will need in our rapidly changing world.  

Walk our halls and you’ll feel the community which helps our kids thrive in these years.

Topics: middle school, teachers, parent partnership, idea path, student support

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