And I love the complexity of middle school and the middle school student's mind. Inspiring these students, opening their minds to new ideas, watching them develop into critical and deep thinkers, is exhilarating. You feel like you are helping the students who need it the most. The middle school years are such important years. I think I’ve always known that in a way, but there is an emerging body of research that supports this thinking. More than that, the research points to the K-8 configuration as being the optimal learning environment for middle school students.
Almost all of my 23-plus year career as an independent school teacher and administrator has happened in K-8 schools. I currently have the honor of serving as a Head of School at a Pre-K–8 school. And although the research around this configuration affirms my professional choices, I find it is now also affirming the decisions my wife and I have made for our children. Both of our kids attend the Pre-K–8 school where I serve as Head.
My son is in fourth grade this year, and as he approaches middle school, I’ve never been more confident in or appreciated the Pre-K–8 configuration and its benefits. I see those benefits for our middle schoolers every day as I walk the halls.
So I am heartened to know that the research points out that my son, and eventually his first-grade sister, will likely do better academically, socially, and emotionally because of their environment. I am happy to learn that schools with our Pre-K–8 configuration have less bullying than traditional stand-alone middle schools. I am thrilled that my son and daughter will have real leadership opportunities that could not be had if they were attending a middle school absent of younger students or attached to a high school (not to mention not having to worry about growing up too fast among high schoolers).
Because besides the Pre-K–8 configuration satisfying our children’s basic, yet most important, human needs as students, it meets my and my wife’s needs as parents. The need to know we are doing the best we can for our kids. It’s the ultimate win/win.