Independence is fostered at this level is through the farm program, which is inspired by Maria Montessori’s theory of Erkinder; Montessori believed that adolescents should spend time each day working on a farm. During Farm Program, all of the children leave the confines of the classroom and spend their Friday afternoons on a working farm. Students spend time working with farm animals, preparing food, and tending to the gardens. It is experiences such as these that separate the Montessori middle school program from other middle school experiences.
Another way that the middle school sets itself apart is through offering extensive traveling opportunities for students. During the fall of each year, students spend a week in a rural setting, where they experience camping and other outdoor experiences; in recent years, students have traveled to the Leelanau Peninsula. For the final middle school trip of the year, the students visit a large city. Past cities have included Boston, Montreal, New York City, Atlanta, and several others.
These independence-building experiences in the classroom and beyond help Middle School students develop into self-sufficient individuals who value learning and exploration.
The Middle School curriculum is academically rigorous and is designed to ready students for intensive high school coursework. Students generally spend an hour to two hours on homework each evening. Coursework and homework are designed to promote critical thinking and logic skills; it is never merely “busy work.”
At this level, students begin to use more textbooks, particularly in the areas of mathematics and the sciences. Seventh-grade students are introduced to pre-algebraic concepts and begin to solidify their mathematical foundations. Eighth-grade students study Algebra I, which is an important foundational class for later high school mathematical work. Ninth-grade students partake in a rigorous study of Geometry. The Middle School science program runs on a three-year cycle. During the child’s three years in the program, he/she will study Chemistry, Biology, and Physics; the child will also be introduced to other pertinent scientific studies and areas along the way.
Seventh and eighth grade students have an English course each year. They learn basic research and citation, proofreading and revision, as well as organizational skills. Grammatical rules are introduced along the way, and when necessary, grammatical textbooks are used. Students are taught to write in various genres from fantasy fiction to the rigorous persuasive essay. At this level, students are pushed to develop strong thesis statements and to support their claims with evidence; the idea of writing for an audience is also considered at length.
At the 7th and 8th-grade levels, history and literature are taught alongside each other. The 7th grade students study history from the beginning to 1400 C.E., and the 8th-grade students study world history from 1400 to the present. History is taught in a larger context, with an interdisciplinary focus. Connections are made among such topics as science and literature. The literature selection directly coincide with the students’ current historical studies. Depending on the year, 9th-grade students study either AP World History or AP Human Geography. Their earlier studies of World History leave them well prepared for such challenging coursework. At this level, writing becomes an additional focus of literature class.
At this level, students also continue their daily study of vocal and instrumental music. Students have daily foreign language class, physical education, and art. As you can see, the middle school students have a busy workday, which keeps them engaged in the learning process.
MMS’s middle school program prepares students for advanced-level high school work. Middle school students graduate from the middle school program with the necessary organizational, intellectual and social skills to make a smooth transition into any high school program. The majority of our middle school students choose to continue their high school educations at MMS. Given the fact that MMS’s middle school and high school curriculums complement each other so well, MMS encourages students to strongly consider moving on to the next level of this supportive academic community, where the emphasis at every level is on the individual student’s learning process and interests.