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> Why Middle School
We are especially excited about the middle school because of the wonderful benefits it offers. This is a special time in your student’s life. It presents unique challenges socially and is a key time for building study skills that will be vital throughout high school. Harding middle school will address this important time through specific scheduling, programming, and mentoring. We hope that students leave middle school more confident in themselves and better prepared to succeed at the next level and beyond.
Specifically, middle school is a very important time for the development of a student’s faith. At this age, many are asking questions as they develop their personal relationship with God. As teenagers begin this important spiritual maturation process, Harding middle school can guide them, helping them to see their school subjects, personal interactions, and community involvement through the lens of their spiritual walk with Christ. Through Bible classes, chapel offerings, an exciting character formation rotation class, and the presence of Godly examples from our faculty and staff, Harding middle school can be an additional support in aiding these young teenagers at a pivotal moment in their development.
> Block Scheduling
Along with upper school, the middle school will be implementing a modified block schedule. This type of schedule boasts several key benefits while maintaining the strengths of our previous schedule. In middle school, students will see core area teachers (Bible, mathematics, social studies, English, science) four times a week—three times for forty-five minutes and once for ninety minutes. While continuing the consistency of our old bell schedule, the larger ninety minute block will allow our teachers to try creative new teaching techniques and take deeper dives into topics or discussions that a forty-five minute period would not have allowed.
Additionally, chapel time will remain shared with upper school. The vast majority of chapels will be with all students in grades 7–12 in the auditorium, planned by our campus ministers. Occasionally, middle school may break out for our own chapel, targeted at middle school issues.
> Houses and Friday Fundays
Every middle school student will be sorted into a mixed-grade House. Houses are named to honor specific values and traits of our city, school, and faith. Students will compete in their Houses throughout the year with other Houses for a House Cup. Points are awarded for behavior, outstanding academic success, service, and other events. Each House has a faculty sponsor who will oversee his or her House. Your student’s House affiliation and sponsor will remain the same throughout his or her time in middle school to allow for a more personal connection. Ideally, there will be at least one adult on our campus with whom your student spends regular time throughout his or her time here.
Additionally, we will take time on sporadic Fridays throughout the year to host contests among the Houses based on school spirit, academics, athletics, or creative thinking. The purpose of Houses and Friday Fundays is to build camaraderie, teach valuable life lessons, practice interpersonal and group work skills, and create a fun environment of friendly competition.
> Course Selection and Rotations
Every middle school student will take one section of each of the five core subjects (Bible, mathematics, social studies, English, science). With their additional two slots, middle school students will take two electives (options include band, chorus, visual art, intro to theatre, improv theatre troupe, fitness; for eighth grade only, Spanish I and French I). Students ranked preferred electives in May and have been sorted into those classes based upon their rankings. Although not all students were able to get their top two selections, we have done our best to honor their preferences.
Additionally, throughout the school year in the homeroom slot on the schedule, middle school students will take part in a rotation of classes including interest-based electives (offerings still under construction, but include baking, gardening, and health). In addition to the occasional interest-based offering, all middle school students will spend time each semester in classes focusing on each the following: Christian character, being a successful student, and test-taking strategies. Students take these recurring classes in their Houses, and often accrue House points through their performance in challenges associated with them.
> Location and Staffing
Most middle school classes will be located in a two-hallway area of the Cherry Road campus. However, students will venture out of the middle school area every day for electives or certain honors classes. This year, certain classes will be taught by instructors shared with upper school, including Mr. Colby Canterbury in band, Mr. Brooks Gatlin in chorus, Mrs. Jennifer Aycock in theatre, Mrs. Stacey Smith in visual art, Mrs. Lindsay Lamport in honors prealgebra, and Mrs. Kelly Dahlberg in honors physical science. And while many teachers will be teaching in both upper and middle school next year, the following are understood to be middle school teachers, dedicating time and energy to the focus and mission of our new school, even if they teach an occasional upper school class: Mrs. Lori Arnett (science 7), Mr. Corey Cunningham (geography 7 and history 8), Dr. Scott Frizzell (history 8), Mrs. Laura Hawley (prealgebra 7), Ms. Sheronda Holmes (science 8), Mrs. Jenna King (Bible 7), Mr. Gary McCormack (Algebra I), Ms. Amy Murphy (English 7, 8), and Dr. Tim Stafford (Bible 8). Additionally, if you do come to visit our office, Mrs. Dawn Gilreath will be our administrative assistant waiting to greet you.
> Canvas and RenWeb
This year the entire Harding system will be switching from PowerSchool grade hosting to RenWeb, and from My Big Campus learning management system to Canvas. Both products are significant upgrades to their predecessors, streamlining communication among students, teachers, and parents. RenWeb will be the primary location for information regarding student grades and conduct marks. On Canvas, you will be able to monitor daily classroom agendas, assignments due, and missed work when absent.