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Transitioning to a new school, a new schedule, and a new set of teachers and classes is a challenging element of adolescence. Add to these transitions the flurry of middle school life, which brings changes in a girl’s body, her sense of self, her friendships, and her relationships with her family. At GMS students are supported with a variety of programs and activities specifically designed with the girls in mind. New Student Orientation and Learning Lab help 6th grade girls adjust to the new expectations of middle school. Throughout the three years at GMS every girl is supported with weekly Social and Emotional Learning classes and Advisory meetings. In addition a school Guidance Advisor, who is a licensed family and marriage therapist is available to meet with a student.
One of our students said it best when she was asked what makes The Girls’ Middle School unique: “Advisory is GMS code for second family,” she wrote. Her sentiment sums up the feeling that many of our girls and their families have about the advisory program.
At GMS, each girl is assigned an advisor when she enters 6th grade, and that staff or faculty member is her advisor for all three years. This long-term relationship allows the advisor to get to know his or her advisees deeply and watch them grow and mature, both academically and socially. Advisors track academic progress, check in with their advisees weekly, and encourage and support the girls in becoming their own best advocates during the sometimes-bumpy middle school years.
Advisors first meet their advisory families at Back to School Night in an informal setting, but they also run Parent Conferences in the fall and Student Led Conferences in the spring. Families learn to rely on the advisor as a source of information regarding their daughter’s development and as someone who has gained insight about their daughter after watching her grow over the years.
But the most enthusiastic participants in (and cheerleaders for) the advisory program are the girls themselves. Advisory groups include students from all three grades, providing younger students with role models and a preview of the full GMS experience. Older girls in the advisory groups understand their responsibility to share what they have learned during their time at GMS and to welcome new members in to the “second family.”
Each fall, advisory groups kick off the year with a day-long field trip designed to help the girls get to know one another and their advisor better. Groups go ice skating, bake goodies, hike, or do different types community service around the peninsula in their quest for bonding and fun. Just look at the smiles on their faces!
6th Grade Learning Lab
Girls entering middle school encounter many new academic responsibilities, and they have the opportunity to better understand themselves as learners in Learning Lab class. Meeting weekly during the first semester of sixth grade, students explore topics related to how to learn, applying relevant information to themselves and using these new skills in their other classes. By the end of the semester, they have created a personalized learning profile containing detailed suggestions that they can use throughout their middle school careers and beyond.
Topics include learning styles, multiple intelligences, brain makeup, groupwork and leadership styles, learning differences, sleep, organization, goal planning, time management, mindfulness, and more.