Cooking? Crocheting? Playing chess? Film appreciation? Working on a publication? Yoga? Leadership? Middle Schoolers participate in two-week explorations during “Flex Periods.”
According to Menaul School faculty, one of the best things for Middle School students is the opportunity to make structured choices. Students typically don’t know what they love to do yet, though they might come to us with ideas of what they “can’t do” or, in their minds, what they don’t do well. That’s where Learning Extension comes in.
Accordingly, Menaul School faculty aim to share experiences with students that strengthen their love of learning. By discovering things that they didn’t know now how to do till now, many new possibilities open before them.
Learning Extension in action
Following a Learning Extension session on board games, Ms. Gilbert says she noticed students playing chess in their free time, using their school-issued iPads. Pleased parents have shared that their students made dinner for them, following a Learning Extension that focused on cooking and baking.
For example, one student made banana bread for staff and faculty, using her newfound skills and generous spirit. As a staff member who enjoyed that banana bread, I can say I would have bought it at a bakery any day! Our students also now know how to prepare a well-rounded breakfast, including eggs, bacon, and waffles.
Ms. Patellis says that she sees students “coming out of their shells” more and more, in part because of the Learning Extension sessions. They gain confidence as they explore new experiences in their classes.
“Students seem happy to be here, and I hear a lot of gratitude for us being in person.”Ms. Patellis
What could be “more Menaul” (read: encouraging, challenging, and inclusive) than the fact that all Middle School students who wish to participate and learn about Student Council get to do so. “If you want to be in, you get to experience leadership,” says Ms. Gilbert.
Thus far, our large Middle School Student Council group has initiated a food drive for Joy Junction before the holidays, and they run a well-organized kickball tournament during lunch. Just ask Mrs. Hillmeyer about this group of students:
“My belief is that Student Council at the middle school level should be a dabble activity. . . I want students to ALL to have the opportunity to participate. I want middle school students to like the processes that go with leadership,” Mrs. Hillmeyer says.