The middle school instructional program supports 6th, 7th and 8th grade students as they transition from elementary school to the demands of a rigorous secondary program. As students meet their new classmates they learn that although they attended different elementary schools, they have had many common core learning experiences. Middle school teachers appreciate the coordinated efforts in the elementary division so that they can build upon this foundation.
Core instructional periods in Suffern Middle School are 53 minutes in length to enable instructional models that foster student-centered learning experiences. All three grade levels embrace a teamed structure with 6th graders working with 3 core teachers while 7th & 8th graders are scheduled within a 4 person core team. The goal is to promote integration across units of study that help students make connections and manage the expectations across their English, social studies, mathematics and science courses. Accelerated courses of study are available in math and science for students who are prepared to work at an advanced instructional level.
Three additional periods of 42-minute Encore classes round out the middle school student’s schedule. The major themes within this part of the program are the study of world language, the arts, technology and wellness. Students who need additional support may have intervention opportunities in place of some of the Encore courses.
World language opportunities expand at the middle school. Starting in sixth grade, students may choose to continue Spanish language instruction or pursue a new challenge with Italian or French. Because of the strong foundation within the FLES (Foreign Language in Elementary Schools) program, most students are able to reach the Checkpoint A expectations before they leave the Middle School.
Students have many options in the area of the arts. In music, some choose to participate in large group ensembles including band, orchestra or chorus. Others may explore their creativity through guitar or digital music. In the visual arts, the offerings provide opportunities for traditional art courses as well as creation within the digital media setting.
In the area of technology, Suffern Middle School has adopted Project Lead the Way’s Gateway To Technology program. This coursework engages all students in developing critical-thinking and problem-solving skills by applying what they learn in math and science through hands-on, project-based learning.
Wellness is promoted through an integrated approach to physical education, family and consumer science and health education. The tenets of the Olweus character education program are promoted in a significant way in this component of the instructional program.
An AVID (Advancement Via Individual Determination) elective course is offered to 8th grade students who need more explicit instruction in critical thinking, organizational, study, and educational self-advocacy skills in order to achieve their full academic potential.