Co-curricular programs, student support structures, and other varied opportunities round out the Middle School experience for students and families. Faculty and administration work closely with counselors, learning specialists, and community partners to ensure that our students are afforded developmentally appropriate enrichment programs, leadership roles, and volunteer opportunities. Through such components of the Middle School program, students forge relationships and receive the support they need, while gaining social awareness and appreciation for perspectives and experiences that differ from their own.
In sixth grade, Newman Middle School students are matched in groups of ten to twelve with an advisor who is responsible for facilitating their growth in academics, leadership, service, and self-advocacy over a period of three years. Advisory groups meet several times each week, have shared experiences such as the planning and execution of school assemblies, meet during the school day for meals and games, and create long-lasting bonds that supplement those in their other peer groups. Many Middle School students describe their advisory group as their school family.
Mission Skills Assessment
The Mission Skills Assessment gives Newman a window into how we are doing in key areas of social emotional learning – teamwork, creativity, ethics, resilience, curiosity, and time management. The instrument is completed online and utilizes teacher and student input. Newman receives aggregate data that helps us to guide programming, but does not receive individual student data. The constructs underlying the MSA also provide our advisors with a common language and a framework for managing advisory conferences and student planning.
A World of Difference Institute
Already strongly partnered with the Anti-Defamation League through our participation in that organization’s No Place for Hate program, last year the Middle School began to deepen and expand that partnership, working with the ADL to create a customized version of their A World of Difference Institute, which features training for adults and students centered on understanding bias and working actively to create a more respectful and inclusive school community.
In the Middle School, one formal leadership opportunity is the Difference Committee, which works toward appreciation of diversity in the division and coordinates community service efforts. Comprised of members from the sixth, seventh, and eighth grade classes, this group works with faculty sponsors to plan and execute No Place for Hate events as well as community service projects. No Place for Hate, a program offered by the Anti-Defamation League, is an anti-bias program that promotes diversity in classrooms and on school campuses. Events such as International Festival, the Imagine a World Without Hate Art and Poetry Contest, and Mix-it-Up Day are organized by the Difference Committee and are parts of our No Place for Hate commitment. The Middle School Difference Committee also facilitates both inter- and intra-divisional community service projects such as Operation American Soldier and Breast Cancer Awareness Month activities. In the Middle School at Newman, we are always looking for ways to celebrate difference and make a difference.
Another opportunity for formal leadership is the Middle School Student Advisory Board, a twelve-member group of students in grades six through eight. Students apply for membership on the MSAB. Each year, grade level faculty and the administration select four sixth graders who will serve on the MSAB for their three years of Middle School. Board members participate in regular meetings and fundraising activities, bring student concerns to the Middle School Administration, and serve as a sounding board for issues as diverse as advisory and dining hall procedures.
Field Trips and Overnights
The Newman Middle School has a rich and varied palette of field trips and overnight excursions, some of which are yearly events, others of which vary from year to year. Each fall both the seventh and eighth grades go on extended overnight trips – the seventh grade to Percy Quin State Park in Mississippi for three days and the eighth grade to the Mountain Trail Outdoor School at Kanuga in North Carolina for eight days. Both trips are built around team building and leadership development.
Besides day trips that are unique to particular courses, whole grades and combinations of grades participate in day trips to New Orleans Museum of Art, the National World War II Museum, the New Canal Lighthouse, Jean Lafitte National Historical Park and Preserve, Fontainebleau State Park, Bayou St. John, and the Ogden Museum of Southern Art.
Project-Based Learning and Design Thinking
Newman’s motto is that “we learn to do by doing,” and this hands-on approach is exemplified in Middle School by a strong commitment to Project-Based Learning and Design Thinking, approaches that promote critical thinking and student ownership of learning. From projects such as the Trash Trek and Chapbooks, to annual events like International Festival and Half-Time Day, Newman students are engaging in a variety of dynamic learning opportunities throughout their Middle School careers.