middle school student doing Spanish on computerby Dr. Jenn Milam, Middle School director

As we have made our way through the last five weeks of virtual teaching and learning we have found great success in connecting with students, engagement in virtual school, and continuing with the joyful learning that is the hallmark of MPA. We, as an educational community, continue to learn and grow in our knowledge of how this unique time in our world is impacting our bodies, our brains, and our being in the world. More, as your teachers and I have come to understand, it is now even more important to be responsive to our young people as they reveal to us their unique needs as learners in the virtual world. We have always grounded our practice at MPA in a growth mindset—a constantly and purposefully evolving pedagogy that honors the process and the person. Given our new reality in which we continue in virtual school through the end of the year, the next iteration of our schedule and programming is an example of our responsiveness to students and our deep commitment to meeting the needs of our Middle School students in a holistic way.

Beginning the week of May 4 and continuing through the end of the school year, we will begin implementing WE-CONNECT WEDNESDAYS in the Middle School. Wednesdays, in our next phase of virtual school, will be a time to connect individually with teachers for academic support, gather in small groups with each other for projects and social time, meet with Dr. Nolan or Ms. Cooper, and offer enrichment and social opportunities for social and personal connection in fun ways. Parent survey data and the lived experience with our students to date, has revealed to us that students are missing the deeply personal connections with teachers and with each other. WE-CONNECT WEDNESDAYS will offer students a bit of a break from the regular school day schedule while opening up time for self-care, enrichment, academic support and meetings with teachers, social connection, play, and creativity. While this day will look different than a regular school day, it is important to note that this is not a “day off” for students and teachers, it is a “day done differently” to bring some fresh, inspired, and connected programming to our virtual school world.

What I know about Middle School brains and bodies is that they need both structure and predictability alongside a good solid dose of fun to keep things interesting! This new structure to our remaining weeks in virtual school will find two days of synchronous school (in regular schedule from 8 AM-3 PM) bookending both sides of our WE-CONNECT WEDNESDAYS. The faculty and I are working diligently on a schedule for Wednesdays that offers some choice and some flexibility. It is my wish for each of you, and your Middle Schooler, that this new structure to our week will build in a little mid-week fun and creativity, time for your student to attend to their individual needs with their teachers, and help all of us to sustain our resilience as we finish our school year together virtually.

I will be providing a more detailed schedule, outlining expectations, and offering more focused explanations in my upcoming News & Notes posted to Schoology each Sunday.

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