2014-2015 Academic Program Message from the Head
Compassion for Adolescents
At Benjamin, we work to provide consistent social, emotional, and academic support for middle school students to help ensure their success in a rigorous program that challenges each child, no matter how bright and talented. We are able to meet these needs courtesy of a faculty who understands that the tentative nature of adolescents means teachers must be particularly creative about establishing opportunities for success in order to build confidence and self-esteem in our students.
Emphasis on the Individual
As part of our Advisory Program, each middle school student is paired with a teacher/advisor who serves as a nurturing advocate throughout the school year. In addition, our Student Services Program caters to the developmental transitions children experience in their middle school years by offering special programs, events, and counseling. Teachers intellectually challenge each student in small classes that support learning to work in groups as well as individualized learning. In addition, we build self-sufficiency through our Thinking Maps and CRISS (Creating Independence Through Student-owned Strategies) programs, which help students develop the skills they need to learn independently.
New Ways to Apply Knowledge
The middle school offers an interdisciplinary focus rich in technology so children can begin applying knowledge in new and interesting ways. Our curriculum reinforces basic skills, and our laptop program teaches students to access and use information in meaningful ways. The Junior Great Books program, with its emphasis on reading comprehension, listening skills and vocabulary, complements our core curriculum of English, math, science, social studies and foreign language. Advanced courses are offered in math, Spanish, and French. Beyond that, each student must participate in drama, art, band, dance, chorus, ommunication arts and teen leadership.
STEM (Science Technology Engineering Math) Presentation by Gabriele St. Martin, Science Department Chair
Mandatory grade level travel experiences that include a 6th grade Everglades field study at Corbitt Wildlife Preserve, a 7th grade study of marine life in Key Largo, and a four-day trip to Washington, D.C. in 8th grade are culminating experiences. Additionally, students can choose from electives such as web design, writer's workshop, journalism and more. Finally, some 20 clubs and activities, from Jazz Band to debate, thrive in the Middle School, offering every student an outlet for expression.
RAAP (Reading Advocacy Advisory Program)
Our Middle School RAAP program enriches our children’s lives by nurturing their love for reading, by encouraging them to cultivate the habit of reading, and by establishing a closer relationship with their advisors. RAAP will expand their creative thinking and help them meet the demands of their futures as they look forward to Upper School, eventual college placement, and the challenges of our ever changing global community. Middle School advisors play an important role in facilitating RAAP in that they provide important role models who value literacy and academic discussions. Connecting with role models regarding the value of reading and academics is particularly important for boys (Sullivan, 2003). For RAAP, students select books from the new Middle School RAAP Room, the TBS Library, or home to be read at home and at school during RAAP. Also during RAAP, students participate in one on one discussions with teachers, book talks, and analysis. This program adds an element of student choice to our established literature, writing, and grammar programs.
In the Middle School, quizzical 6th graders are gently but purposefully introduced to a new level of responsibility, accountability, academic rigor, and extra curricular options until, as 8th graders, they depart our program as confident, maturing teens on their way to Upper School.