Sunday, October 11, 2015

Dear Middle Musers,

This beautiful weekend, my mother and I had the opportunity to join my youngest daughter for a Friends and Family event this past weekend on campus at St. Catherine's University in St. Paul, Minnesota. During one of the learning experiences, information was shared from the National Association of Colleges and Employers. According to the survey data collected (2014) these are the top four Skills and Qualities Employers Want:
1, Ability to work in a team structure
2. Ability to make decisions and solve problems
3. Ability to plan, organize and prioritize work
4. Ability to verbally communicate with persons inside and outside the organization
We heard from a few alum who are beginning their careers and they echoed the priorities as they described their journey and what they've found MOST helpful in work and in life.

Some of you may be hearing about different teaching and learning experiences from your middle-level student.  You might read or hear about inquiry, project-based learning, and/or personalized learning. Each of these approaches honors what the student brings to the learning experience. In an age of quick access to information, teachers are no longer the holder and deliverer of information. Rather, they are provokers of thinking, guides for exploring new territory, and coaches while we practice with others. We are fortunate to have a strong and positive team of educators stretching themselves, thinking outside the box, and applying their learning to help students develop skills in collaboration, planning, problem-solving, and communicating. When we make changes, this sometimes frustrates students (and us!) as we struggle to get our footing, sometimes make mistakes, and invest more time and energy in learning new skills instead of doing what we've always done.

Please share your concerns and questions with us. More importantly, encourage your student to do the same. No voice is more critical in this educational journey and learning community than that of our students'. Recently, two students shared with me and with their teacher three suggestions for improving the learning experience. Another four students shared thoughts about our focus on school-wide collaboration skills with our administrative team during our twice-monthly Student Advisors to the Administrator meetings. Those suggestions mean an improved experience for each of those students, their classmates, and every student for years to come.

Thank you for your encouragement, for your positive attitude, and for your patience as we work together to help your child become a confident communicator, problem-solver and team player.



  1. The times they are a changin'! As an AVID teacher, I would second the Skills and Qualities you mentioned above. I must ask, how does a student go about serving as an Student Advisor to the Administrator? Sounds like fun! Thanks for your innovation and dedication!

    1. Thank you for asking, Stacy! We invited students to apply during Registration Days. We also asked Middle School teachers to recommend students they would describe as perceptive, unique in their perspective, and caring about students’ experience of middle school. We extended an invitation to more than thirty students via e-mail over the summer and received only five applications. We asked each house to consider the same criteria and now have a representative for each house at the middle school (9 students). Students will have an opportunity to apply in the spring for this leadership role for next year.

    2. Great opportunity for kids! And I especially appreciate that the school is, among other criteria, seeking out students with unique perspectives!

    3. Great opportunity for kids! And I especially appreciate that the school is, among other criteria, seeking out students with unique perspectives!