Beacon’s Middle School program engages the emerging new abilities and social interests of young adolescents, grades 6 through 8. Our Middle School creates new academic and social connections between students, teachers, curriculum and life experiences, relating learning in real ways to students’ lives. Our graduates are not afraid to ask questions or seek better solutions because they know they possess the keys to go after what they need, in high school and beyond.
We offer an academically rigorous, skill-building, project-based, interdisciplinary curriculum that is flexible enough to meet each student at his or her individual level of readiness, whether the student is mastering new material quickly or needs more time. Our teachers take the time to get to know each student and respond to what motivates them to learn. Our extended year (September through mid-July) provides more instructional time and more time on task for students. This provides the space to teach and learn in multiple ways and in greater depth, so students of every ability gain confidence and mastery.
Adolescents are ready for deep ideas – if they are made relevant and delivered in a focused time frame. Therefore, core courses at Beacon are taught in blocks. Block scheduling allows enough class time for multiple ways to relate to the material with extensive supervised practice.
Language arts includes the skills of written and verbal communication; interpretation of communication and texts; and reading for pleasure, information, research and reporting. Social studies includes history, geography, demographics, economics, sociology, and civics.
Beacon’s mathematics and science courses build core skills for high school readiness. The mathematics program covers arithmetic, pre-algebra, algebra, statistics and probability; calculation, computation and practical (life-skill) applications; as well as related computer proficiency. Our hands-on science labs give students the skills of scientific methods, laboratory procedures, measurement, computer literacy, data compilation and problem solving.
Beacon’s graduates routinely achieve standardized test results which are significantly above grade level and rank in the highest percentiles nationwide. Our graduates go on to high schools that maintain the highest academic standards where they adjust easily, with the vast majority making the honor roll or winning other accolades.
Beacon students are recognized as confident, highly motivated and productive contributors who are passionate and effective learners.
Arts Infusion coordinates the teaching of expressive skills with the integration of the arts into the core curriculum. Middle School students gain confidence from arts immersion as they assess their work, plan the next step, take risks, collaborate, and express themselves. The personal confidence gained there transfers directly to the core classroom.
Technology Lab experiences develop mastery of hardware and software skills while teaching critical analysis, organization and presentation of information through digital media.
Exploratories are classes of shorter duration that stimulate or build upon interest, talent, leadership skill and inquiry. Mini-courses may include arts, student publications, study skills, teen life, student government and community awareness.
Motor classes and athletics are a core component of the curriculum. These programs develop each student’s motor skills and athletic abilities, and encourage a positive attitude toward health, safety and personal fitness. Goals of the program also include developing team sports and good sportsmanship skills. Students participate in a variety of activities from team games to training programs designed to teach each student how to set realistic fitness goals and learn more about healthy lifestyles. Activities take place both indoors in the Beacon Community Room and outdoors on school grounds. The after-school athletics program is open to all middle school students. Team sports include basketball, volleyball, and flag football. Beacon competes with other local independent middle school teams.
The Advisory Program, which meets twice a week, is set aside for small groups of students from different grade levels to explore topics of mutual interest or get individual and peer support centered around social growth. Each student has an advisor to act as his or her advocate during all three years in middle school.
The Life Experiences Program, Beacon’s self-esteem program for students, parents and teachers, integrates social-emotional learning throughout the curriculum, so students practice fundamental life skills – building self-esteem, leadership, cooperation, and decision-making abilities throughout the school day.
Beyond the Classroom
Student Leadership. Our goal in Middle School is to prepare and encourage all students to be engaged citizens in their school, and the local and global communities. A key component of this process is the development of leadership skills, recognizing there are many ways to lead. Our social-emotional learning curriculum teaches concrete leadership skills, and a range of activities help students gain leadership experience, including:
- Collaborative performing arts programs
- After-school team athletics
- Peer mentoring through the Advisory program
- Volunteering for community service projects
- 8th grade student officers
- Leading activities for lower school students
- Planning social gatherings
Class Trips engage Middle School students in learning experiences outside the classroom and can range from an outing to the Oakland Museum to a culminating week-long trip to Westminster Woods, an experiential education and nature camp, in 8th grade.
After-School Clubs, such as homework, gardening, Spanish, and math clubs, as well as music and dance ensembles and other activities, form at different times throughout the school year for interested students.