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Middle School Visitation Provides Feedback, Kudos to Division

With first-semester exams wrapped up before the December break, many Middle School students spent the past few weeks feeling proud of their successes and determined to work on areas where they can improve. Imagine their surprise to learn that their teachers and administrators were going through the same experience — as part of a division-wide review by outside middle-grade curriculum and leadership experts.  

The Middle School underwent this process, known as a visitation, earlier this month to help school leadership, faculty and staff identify their areas of strength as well as target opportunities for growth. In doing so, they joined several other Ravenscroft departments and divisions seeking feedback and suggestions through their own visitations this year.

Members of the visitation team reviewed courses; interviewed teachers, students and parents; observed classes; and emerged with a robust list of commendations and recommendations. One of the strongest themes to emerge from their summary of findings — which won’t surprise anyone who’s spent time in the Middle School lately — is that both teachers and students really enjoy being part of the division. 

The team highlighted many other strengths at the division level, including:

  • A strong commitment to middle-grades education, with teachers who are passionate about their content areas and an impressive choice of electives

  • Emphasis on faculty self-reflection and assessment

  • Consistency in the integration of the Lead From Here framework

  • Notable student access to technology

“Anyone who has been part of Middle School has heard me say that our teachers, students and staff love being in Middle School,” said Head of Middle School Denise Colpitts. “It is a unique and rewarding time to be working with students, and it was affirming that our visitors were able to see our commitment so clearly.”

Of course, identifying areas in which the Middle School might improve was the other reason for the visitation. The team made suggestions both big and small, including:

  • A review of curriculum alignment — vertically (as students move up through grades) as well as within and across departments 

  • Continued attention to student life and culture, particularly the role advisory groups can play in meeting all students’ needs in and out of the classroom

  • Refining communication efforts, including more internal marketing of the division’s programs and opportunities and a more student-friendly handbook

Overall, the review provided school leaders with confidence that the division is excelling in middle-grade education with innovative, pedagogically sound course offerings — from Humanities 6 to the MakerSpace and beyond — and is well positioned for the transition to new leadership when Colpitts retires in June.