Monday at the upper grade assembly I took a moment to recognize our Middle School Students
in the 6th, 7th and 8th grades. I told them simply that they are great kids who make coming to work each day a pleasure for myself and for the staff that interacts with them on a daily basis. Often, teenagers are characterized much differently than this. We hear about this age group being difficult to communicate with, moody and under-motivated. Not so with our teenagers at Beechwood. I am not trying to tell you that they are perfect. We do struggle with difficult behaviors from time to time. But, I can honestly tell you that this year’s group is making choices that make us feel hopeful about their futures and proud of their progress.
Here is just some of what we are seeing:
They resolve conflict peacefully. Our kids do not get along with each other all of the time. They do, however, understand that when they are struggling with a particular peer relationship, that things can be worked out with words and agreements, rather than insults or physical intimidation.
They are engaged and focused. Walk into a Beechwood middle school classroom and you will see students that are on task. They are participating with eyes on the speaker. They are helping each other. In short, they are here to learn.
They are respectful of adults. If I address one of our middle school students, I can expect that they will respond in a way that makes me feel appreciated. “How are you today?”, I might say. What I hear back is, “Fine and you?”. If staff needs to give a student constructive criticism, more often than not, a Beechwood middle schooler will listen and agree to work on the issue.
They are organized. I remember when I started at Beechwood over 20 years ago. Our goal was to have all of our 8th graders use a daily planner and maintain an organized binder. Now we have achieved that all they way down to the 5th grade. When our kids get to high school, they will have mastered the art of organization and planning. It can only help them to reach their academic potential.
They seize opportunity. Whether it be water polo, wrestling, basketball, cheerleading, performing in the musical, attending a summer program in Idaho or shadowing at high schools, if there is an opportunity to do have a new, enriching experience, our middle school kids jump at the chance.
When we observe our older kids at Beechwood, we are looking at the results of our hard work. Parents and teachers have spent countless hours, investing our time and energy, hoping to see our children mature and become responsible adults. We can all feel good about where these kids are at this critical juncture of their lives. More importantly, they should feel proud of who they are as teenagers.