Middle School Dean's Report
It has been an exciting first semester as dean of the Middle School. The overwhelming support from students and faculty has made for a smooth transition into this role. Because this position is new to the Middle School community, I am using this forum to explain the title and how my work affects your children directly. The job can be summarized into three areas of responsibility: organizing and planning programs in the Middle School; working with Head of Middle School John Gifford and other faculty members on administrative tasks; and, most importantly, providing student support.
Programs in the MS
The Nobles Middle School puts an emphasis on project-based learning, e.g. the "Who Am I" project, the solar car races, and the infamous ‘Round the World presentation. These examples happen inside the classroom, but we also offer similar efforts outside of the classroom. I, along with the advisory team, have put a special emphasis on the advisory program this year by pushing these groups to be more than just a place for announcements. For instance, our first long advisory was spent off campus at various Dedham locations where the groups had a chance to be together in a fun and relaxed environment. More recently, we had our first ever winter carnival-themed decorating contest. It was a big hit with the kids. We wanted the groups to be doing an activity together while throwing in a little fun (that seems to be the secret to engaging Middle School students). In addition to advisory, I am working to make Middle School Assemblies a time for students to get up and sing, dance, share a story, read a poem, etc. Encourage your children to think about sharing something special with the Middle School community. And lastly, clubs and organizations are a special time for students to try something new, whether its baking cookies in cooking club, building a bridge in engineering club, or performing a skit in improv club. I have broken down the organizations into three seasons so that students can try a variety of clubs!
I will not bore you with the various administrative tasks that I am involved with, but I would like to mention that a large part of my role is keeping track of all the rules and regulations that we find appropriate for Middle Schoolers. As a faculty, we make it a priority to maximize learning and productivity while students are at school, which is why we have rules. As you probably know, we have our SCRAP (Small Change Reminder and Punishment) system to keep the students in check. The most frequent SCRAPS are often in violation of dress code, technology and food. Because we make the rules well known at the beginning of the year, kids often know that they are in the wrong when they receive a SCRAP. However, if a rule or a SCRAP they received ever confuses them, I ask that they speak to me directly.
The student support aspect of being the dean is what I value most on a daily basis. As the Nobles Guide states, “The Class Deans…are the teams charged with the well being of an entire class. They oversee the social, academic and developmental needs of the class and serve as resources for both parents and students.” I made it a goal to have conversations with every Middle School student before the end of first semester whether it was formal or informal. Building personal relationships allows me to keep a close eye on the students’ level of happiness.
I ask (with your help) that our Middle School students do two things in preparation for second semester. First, I want them to take the time to reflect on the first semester. What were the common trends in their comments? What did they do well? What can they focus on moving forward? A fresh start can be a beautiful thing, but starting up again after a long break is challenging. Second, they should keep in mind the “big three”: be honest, be good to each other, and work hard. The long winter months can be a time for students to lose focus and make poor decisions. If they keep the “big three” in the back of their heads, they should be less tempted to do something they would later regret.
Please know that you can contact me at any time. I can’t believe we are already starting second semester!