Fitting-In in Middle School

By Susan Palmer, Head of Middle School

One of the aspects of the Middle School that I love is that students who have attended Greenhill since Lower School are intermingled with students fresh to our campus. The range of backgrounds brings richness to our classrooms that extends learning beyond what the teacher offers.

That said, we know that being the new kid in a sea of unfamiliar faces can be challenging. As a result, we try to check in with our new Middle Schoolers a few weeks into the year. Last week Mike Jenks, Assistant Head of Middle School, and I had one of our check-in lunches with these new Middle School students. Seeing Greenhill through their one month of experience was refreshing and caused us both to stop and think about elements and qualities of school that we see as inherent to the Greenhill experience. When we asked the students to share their favorite things about Greenhill, we got everything from the food to “nature and the peacocks.” We also got the following:

• Too many good things to share just one!
• Teachers teach differently than at other schools.
• You can play your instrument right here at school.
• There’s a mixture of “girl and boy” teachers.
• The Idea Lab!
• Making new friends.
• The homework isn’t busy work.
• The teachers are nice and willing to help.
• The grade level meetings in the pods.
• The groups mingle.
• The schedule and having classes with lots of different people..
• We are learning how to be independent.
• Discussion-based classes with lots of different teachers.
• Projects
• Recess
• The lay-out of the building.
• All the people.

These students were nervous about making new friends, grades, being on time, and homework, but they said that their fears quickly evaporated. And, being Greenhill students, they had suggestions for us about how to make Greenhill even better – ranging from more keyboarding practice to a drama class for sixth graders. These talented and lively newcomers have smoothed their own transitions with their willingness to embrace new experiences, and we are delighted to welcome them into the Middle School and I am excited to hear about their journey throughout the year.

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