Middle school pupils at important stage in life Every...


November 04, 2001

Middle school pupils at important stage in life

Every stage of a child's education is significant. But there is something unique about the middle school years.

Early adolescence is considered the second-greatest stage of human development - the first being birth to age three. During the ages of 10 through 15, young adolescents are frequently misunderstood. Adults often are confused by inconsistent and unpredictable behavior of children who are making the transition from childhood to their teen-age years. However, this is an important time when decisions are made about self-concepts, values, beliefs, and decisions that will shape behaviors now and in the future.

In the Carroll County Public School System, the middle school curriculum is designed to nurture intellectual, social, emotional, and physical growth. Students are given an opportunity to improve basic skills, receive a general education, and discover and pursue special interests. The curriculum is success-oriented and directed toward skill and concept development. It is also broad enough to accommodate the individual differences in social, physical, emotional and intellectual development.

In each of Carroll County's nine middle schools, students receive instruction in academic areas such as reading, language arts, mathematics, science and social studies. They also receive instruction in other areas such as art, health, family and consumer sciences, music, physical education, and technology education. Sixth graders are also provided with the opportunity to attend Outdoor School - a residential environmental education program at the Hashawha Environmental Center.

One of the most significant changes to middle school education this year is the formation of a Director of Middle Schools. Don Pyles, formerly the principal of Sykesville Middle School for 21 years, has been appointed to this position. This is the first time the school system has designated one person whose sole responsibility is middle school education.

One of the goals of the new director is to make sure that there is consistency throughout all middle schools in the county, especially in the areas of curriculum, scheduling and policy. Currently, there may be differences from one middle school to the next. For example, not all middle schools offer French. One middle school offers Spanish in the eighth grade while another school offers Spanish for a half-year in seventh grade and a half-year in eighth grade. By developing a middle school curriculum that is consistent throughout the county, a student who transfers from one middle school to another should not be ahead nor behind of other students in the same grade.

A major area of focus for the school system this year is the aligning of the curriculum from kindergarten through 12th grade. This will allow students to easily transition from one grade to the next equipped with the skills needed to be successful. Middle schools will play a pivotal role in this endeavor.

The middle school cannot be looked upon as a separate entity. It must be a continuation of elementary school and a precursor to high school. Middle schools will be working with elementary and high schools to make sure their curriculum is aligned. They will be working with elementary schools to align the reading curriculum and working with high schools to make sure that students have the skills they need to be successful in high school classes.

Efforts will be made to make sure that the middle school curriculum is not only aligned here in the county, but statewide as well. A special emphasis will be placed on improving instruction for all students by emphasizing academics and achievement.

During the middle school years, students build on what they have learned in elementary school while preparing for high school. At the same time, we need to keep in mind that these students are going through physical, emotional, and social changes as they enter into adulthood.

Middle school students are at a crossroads - making choices about their values and commitments that will have great influence on their education and their adult lives. Therefore, it is important that they have learning environments that support the changes that are taking place.

For additional information on the middle school program contact your middle school principal or Don Pyles, Director of Middle Schools, at 410-751-3157.

C. Scott Stone


Member, Board of Education of Carroll County

County school officials ignore Mount Airy needs

It is disappointing that the council of PTAs, school board staff and other elected and appointed officials continue to focus on the needs of Westminster, with six elementary schools, two middle schools, and soon, two high schools, and with more than 700 empty elementary school seats as of last fall. This, while no one has committed to doing anything for the children of Mt. Airy except bring in more dilapidated portable classrooms.

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