"What is the difference between the middle school and junior high models and what is the benefit to the middle school model that Overlook uses?"
Mrs. Bogosh, Assistant Principal at Overlook Middle School replied:
"There are a few differences between a middle school model and a junior high model. I, personally, have worked in both settings. At Overlook, we have the middle school model. In our model the students are mainly grouped on a team, whereby the classrooms for the team are in close proximity to each other. There are usually no more than 80-90 students on a grade-level team. There are two teams per grade level at Overlook for grades six through eight. We offer enrichment courses for exploratory and non-academic classes throughout the day outside the normal academic classes. This model is student-oriented with an emphasis on social-emotional and cognitive development. Teachers typically have the same preparation period as their grade-level counterpart in the same subject area. This allows for common planning time across the two-teams as well as vertically with all grade levels. In addition, to support the social-emotional needs of the whole child, all teachers of each team are given a common preparation time in the morning a couple times per week to meet as a team to discuss the social-emotional as well as academic needs of student on their specific team. This allows the guidance/school adjustment counselor (and often an administrator, if necessary) to also be in attendance at his/her assigned grade level team. There tends to be more communication, which can support interventions and positive behavior recognition, in a middle school model. In this way, there can be more individualized attention on the needs of children, when required.
On the contrary, a junior high model is vastly different. Students are not arranged on team clusters. The classrooms are typically clustered by subject or grade level, or at random. In this model it is typically subject-centered, much like a high school. In addition to its being subject-oriented, the emphasis is primarily on cognitive development and usually there is less emphasis on the social-emotional development of the child. Sometimes, a district may have the junior high as part of the high school where students as young as seventh grade may be in the same building as a twelfth grader. The scheduling of a junior high model tends to not lend itself to common planning for all the teachers of one student. Because of this, most teachers are not able to meet together on a regular basis, if at all. Less communication among team members regarding their students is inevitable.
Overlook is what I consider the “perfect middle school model”. The teams are fairly equal with the number of students (just shy of 600 students for three grade levels, making it less than 100 students per team). The student’s academic performance and social-emotional well-being is monitored more frequently. If needed, interventions are put in place swiftly due to the constant communication amongst the team of teachers and counselors. As a result of the maturing, developmental needs of the adolescent child, the focus of social-emotional needs of the student are of upmost importance, in my opinion. If the social-emotional needs are not met, most students do not learn at the rate of their peers. The middle school model, particularly the one here at Overlook, allows the team of teachers and counselors to address and monitor the needs of students so that they can best develop strategies and tools for student growth in BOTH the academic and social-emotional areas."
"Getting to Know our Community" is a feature where a question is posed to a member of Ashburnham Westminster Regional School District which explains our philosophy, the methods we use and/or to poses a general question about the AWRSD Community. If you have a question for "Getting to Know our Community" please email it to GKC@awrsd.org.