Friends School of Minnesota’s middle school is a place where young adolescents can grow, stretch and be themselves. We recognize that 10- to 14-year-olds are in a unique place in terms of social, cognitive, physical, and emotional development.
We believe a child’s middle school years can and should be much more than something to survive -- they are a time to question, to try on new ideas, and to really begin to answer that evolving question, Who am I?
As students become more independent from their parents and look more to their peers, they need to be supported by committed adults who care deeply and really like them. Our faculty and staff are positive adults who help guide middle school students with compassion and humor.
Our small middle school classes (20) ensure that every child’s strengths and challenges are well known and addressed. We are a community of about 160 students, so we know each other pretty well. As a Quaker school, the values of simplicity, peace, integrity, community, and equality are woven into every aspect of the curriculum and the day-to-day life of the school.
We seek many kinds of diversity in our students, faculty, and staff and believe diversity makes our community stronger. But learning to work together as a community takes time and effort every single day. Beginning in kindergarten, children participate in our conflict resolution program, and middle school students learn how to use those skills for the issues that are unique to them. We teach and model how to treat each other with respect, resolve differences, and appreciate diverse points of view.
Middle school graduates often talk about how they learned to appreciate multiple perspectives, how to advocate for themselves and others, and how they felt safe to speak up and be heard. At graduation, FSM 8th graders often speak about how they learned to understand other points of view and to be true to themselves.
The National Middle School Association (NMSA) has identified 14 middle school practices and cultural characteristics that, when consistently integrated and fully implemented, create successful schools for young adolescents. These include:
- shared vision
- inviting, supportive, safe environment
- relevant curriculum
- high expectations
- active learning
- adult advocates
- family partnerships
Classrooms and Curriculum
A visitor to FSM’s middle school might take in a lively book group discussion, an exploration of a peer writing critique, solar car testing, a music composition performance, or a math and science field trip to the river.
FSM provides a robust academic program guided by national standards and taught by talented teachers. In the fifth grade, FSM students move from having a main classroom teacher to having three core teachers in humanities, math, and science. They continue to have specialist-taught classes two to three times a week in physical education, Spanish, music, and visual arts. Middle school students participate in the statewide History Day and Science Fair competitions in alternating years.
Each student also has an advisor who meets regularly with a group of 12 to 14 students and serves as a liaison between school and home.
We recognize that adolescents also need opportunities to be with peers doing things that are challenging and fun, so FSM provides a myriad of school trips and extracurricular activities.