We have designed our learner-centered Middle School program to honor the unique developmental and educational needs of young adolescents. We recognize and value the middle school years as an important time of transition, with a distinct period of unprecedented cognitive, social-emotional, and physical growth. Our small classroom size and personalized approach help us meet student’s individualized learning needs. Emphasis is placed on the development of each student’s strengths and talents, while addressing his or her learning challenges. From fifth through eighth grade, a dedicated and highly skilled team of professionals guide students toward independence as they become successful learners and members of the Gateway community.
The Middle School program consists of classes in Humanities, English and Language Arts, Science, Mathematics, Physical Education, and the Arts. Creativity and flexibility within the program maximize opportunities to meet the varying developmental and learning needs of our students and provide meaningful learning experiences. Our Center for Educational Enrichment offers students with similar interests the opportunity to participate in a year-long interdisciplinary endeavor. Students learn how to work collaboratively and engage in hands-on project work to further develop their exceptional abilities within a community of their peers. Faculty and Learning Specialists provide personalized support and foster teacher-student dialogue to meet the learning needs of each student. Our targeted focus on skill development, learner-centered academic inquiry, direct instruction, and interdisciplinary project work provide students with what they need to grow socially and academically and build a strong foundation for future academic success.
As students move through their Middle School years, they develop the capacity to think critically and transition from concrete to abstract thought. Our Humanities program is designed to help students develop an understanding of the connection between self and society. Students develop the ability to observe, evaluate, and explore the past and present through multiple perspectives. One of the cornerstones of our Humanities curriculum is Round Table. Round Table discussions provide the opportunity to develop a deeper understanding of a topic through dialogue. Students learn to articulate their perspective, support their assertions, and consider diverse points of view.
English and Language Arts
The English and Language Arts (ELA) program is a well-balanced, multi-faceted language and literacy program that supports the foundational skill development necessary for students to become successful readers, writers, listeners, and speakers. In ELA students are supported in the development of their ability to communicate effectively and develop an understanding, appreciation, and love of literature. Flexible groupings are used to facilitate comprehension and the reading and writing process. Students are assigned to learning groups based upon individual academic and social learning style. We believe that social interaction best supports young adolescents in their overall development and leads to deeper conceptual understanding. Therefore, we consistently present opportunities for dialogue in class.
Math, Science, & Technology
Students in the Middle School program work to build an understanding of mathematic, scientific, and technological principles and how they apply to real-world problems. Skills and procedures are introduced over time and practiced until mastered.
In Mathematics, flexible grouping of students encourages skill and concept development. Students are assigned to learning groups based upon individual academic and social learning style. Math instruction begins with building an understanding of number concepts and continues through advanced algebra and geometry based on student progress.
Computers and other technological tools are used in and out of the classroom to enhance learning, increase efficiency and productivity, and develop new skills. Each Middle School student is issued a personal laptop, which they use for a variety of academic tasks. Students use laptops for note-taking, writing and editing, research, and presentations.
The focus of physical development at Gateway centers on opportunities for physical activity and building teamwork, sportsmanship, and leadership skills. Students are encouraged to set and strive to achieve personal and group goals in a supportive environment. Middle School students engage in outdoor activities and a regular physical education program. We offer a range of physical education and movement electives. Interscholastic competitive sports teams compete in basketball, track, soccer, and softball.
Creativity and self-expression are at the core of our Arts program. Dance, music, theatre, and visual arts are integral components of our program, providing another way for students to understand the world and express their ideas and knowledge. Students are introduced to the arts through a variety of program options. The curriculum is integrated into areas of academic study. Fifth and sixth grade students pursue a prescribed course of study in the Arts, while seventh and eighth grade students develop their passions and interests through electives, such as ceramics, puppetry, photography, yoga, theatre, composition, and vocal solos. Throughout the year, students are offered opportunities to perform. Through the arts we encourage students to express their knowledge in a different way.
We are continually seeking ways for students to connect their knowledge across disciplines. The development of abilities, acquisition of skills, and accumulation of knowledge is promoted throughout all areas of study. Through these interdisciplinary projects, students develop the ability to integrate and apply their knowledge to real world situations.
Students are supported in the development of important academic and life skills, such as organization and time management. These executive function skills are a critical aspect of young adolescent development and an area of challenge for many of our students. We explicitly integrate this area of learning into all aspects of the school day, including independent work, projects, and homework. All students benefit from support in understanding how they learn and developing essential organizational and time management skills. We prioritize this aspect of learning by including a Study Skills and Myself as a Learner class in our program and providing personalized support to students in this area. Fostering self-awareness, self-advocacy, and independence while providing opportunities for the exploration, development of knowledge, skills, and critical thinking are at the root of our program.
Additional Program Elements
In addition to our academic program, we offer additional program elements that support the overall development of our students, including the following:
Round Table is an integral part of our Humanities curriculum. These discussions help students gain a deeper understanding of a topic through engaging in a dialogue where multiple points of view are expressed, understood and respected. Students learn to articulate their ideas clearly and listen to varying points of view. Round Table is also a forum to facilitate the discussion of social and community issues and topics.
4Rs Social-Emotional Learning
Each Middle School student participates in 4Rs, a research-based social-emotional learning program that uses literature to explicitly teach social-emotional competencies. 4R’s includes opportunities for discussion, reading, writing, reflection and conflict resolution to facilitate students in their social and emotional development, and understanding and respect for others. Round Table discussions are frequently held in 4R’s classes to facilitate perspective taking and build understanding about social interactions, diversity, and human rights.
At Gateway our community gathering space is called Grandstand. Every week Middle School students come together in the Grandstand space for an all-school meeting. In the Lower School, the daily Grandstand meeting is led by the Faculty and includes opportunities for students to share, actively participate, and communicate with each other. In the Middle School students are developmentally ready to take on more responsibility. With this in mind, these meetings are student led, giving students the opportunity to develop and implement concrete ideas about how to contribute to their community. These all school meetings are structured in a way that values student interests and contributions to the community, while also providing opportunities for student leadership, community building, and problem solving.
We are an inclusive school that celebrates the unique identities of our students, faculty, staff, and families. A core tenet of our learning community is an understanding and appreciation of diversity in learning styles and abilities. We use this foundation to talk openly and think critically about other types of difference that exist within our community. The opportunity to value other perspectives and gain a deeper understanding of a variety of cultures and experiences, including gender, family structure, race, culture, ethnicity, and religion are integrated throughout the Middle School program.
All students take a course called Myself as a Learner. In this class, students assess their learning strengths and challenges to build their understanding of how they learn best, the learning process, brain development, and the effect that learning disabilities and differences may have on their learning.
We have several theme-based programs for affinity groups that exist in our community, including children who were adopted and children with varying family structures. These groups are led by experienced Psychologists and provide opportunities for students to share their experiences, build a sense of community and learn from each other. These groups feature a combination of planned activities and student-generated discussion topics.
Center for Educational Enrichment
The Center for Educational Enrichment fuses gifted education with progressive supports in executive function and social development. Each student has the opportunity to work on their area of interest on a Center Team led by a professional in that field. Center teams provide students with the opportunity to discover and develop talents, improve their critical thinking, and work as a member of a collaborative team on an interdisciplinary project and build real world connections. Click here for the Center's website.