Choosing a Middle School
4 Considerations to Discuss with Your Child When Choosing A Middle School
So, your child is heading to middle school soon! Where did the time go? If you have a 5th grader, it’s time to talk with them about what kind of experience will be best for them in middle school, and to begin applying to schools. Here in NYC, with traditional public schools, charter schools, and private schools, we have a lot more options than families in most other parts of the country, who simply attend the school nearest to their home.
While your child’s first instinct may be to apply to whatever school most of their friends are planning to attend, it’s worth thinking about which school will provide the education and resources that will most benefit your child and your family. Here are four things to talk about with your child when you’re deciding which middle schools to apply to.
1. What kind of environment is right for your child? What kind of support do they need?
Every school has its own unique culture; some follow a similar general format, while others are designed to meet the specific needs of the communities they serve. For example, there are several charter school networks with multiple school locations across the five boroughs. These schools often tout their high academic performance, but require long, extended days for students, and have higher than average rates of expulsion.
On the other hand, at St HOPE Leadership Academy, we are dedicated to building community among the families at our school, and catering to their specific needs. We host frequent events, not just for students (or “scholars,” as we like to call them), but for their families, as well. We start each year with a Family Fair where parents, teachers and scholars can meet, chat, play games, share snacks, buy school gear at discounted prices, and win raffle prizes. Throughout the year, families are invited to events like honor roll dinners, graduations, and more.
As a single location public charter school, we have the freedom, ability and level of staffing to work with individual scholars and families to ensure their academic, social and emotional needs are being met at all times, and to work out disciplinary issues when they arise.
2. What sorts of activities are you looking for?
As your child enters middle school, they should explore more activities. Extracurriculars like art, sports, volunteer opportunities, and more are not only enjoyable for kids, but also help prepare them for successful high school and college careers. Most of these activities are organized through schools, so you’ll want to be sure your child is attending a school that provides them with a wide range of extracurricular opportunities.
At St HOPE, we believe strongly in the importance of shaping well-rounded scholars inside and outside of the classroom. We offer many opportunities for scholars to broaden their horizons by participating in activities like debate team, robotics, plant club, and several different sports, including soccer, flag football, basketball, volleyball, softball and more.
We encourage service to our community as part of our curriculum, so many of our scholars volunteer locally at our neighboring urban farm, Harlem Grown. Our students are also involved in causes like breast cancer awareness, feeding the hungry, and preventing human trafficking, among others. Leadership is another quality we hope to foster among our scholars through opportunities to serve in student government, and mentoring programs like our Rising Leaders workshops.
3. What are your educational goals for the future?
At St HOPE, we believe that it is never too soon to focus on the future of your child’s education. We are a high school preparatory middle school, and encourage our scholars to believe in themselves and their ability to attend a good high school and college. To that end, we offer a rigorous academic curriculum, as well as extra support to help our scholars reach their goals. Our teachers hold office hours during which scholars can get additional help.
With the daily support of an exceptionally dedicated staff
I had the opportunity to attend my first real science class as well as take my first trip beyond New York City borders, when we traveled to Washington DC, where I gazed at monuments I had previously only seen on television.”
a St HOPE alumna and high school senior with a 4.0 GPA, preparing to go to college; she’s waiting to hear from Georgetown University, Duke University, and the University of Michigan
We encourage our scholars to envision themselves attending and graduating from college by taking them on field trips to visit colleges; sometimes, these tours are even led by St HOPE Alumni! Our alumni network is another fantastic resource that sets St HOPE apart from other middle schools. When our alumni move on to high school, we continue to support them with free college planning workshops, social events, and even scholarships; each year we award three $10,000 scholarships to our alumni to help with their college expenses!
4. What about practical, everyday considerations?
In addition to the quality of education and extracurricular activities a middle school offers, there are, of course, everyday realities to think about. Where is the school located, and how will your child get there? Are uniforms required? Do you know anyone at the school?
At St HOPE, we are happy to be able to enroll scholars from throughout NYC’s boroughs. We provide free MetroCards to scholars who need to use public transportation to travel to and from school; furthermore, many of our scholars ride together. We have a simple uniform of St HOPE polos for our scholars which makes getting dressed each day simple. We also offer discounts on our polos and other St HOPE gear at our Annual Family Fair.
Finally, the phrase that we hear over and over again from our scholars, parents, siblings, staff and alumni is that St HOPE feels like family. Our devoted teachers, staff and community partners create an atmosphere that keeps families coming back. We have many legacy scholars, who have found their way to St HOPE because an older sibling, cousin, friend, etc. attended first, and let them know what an incredible school it is. If you know someone at St HOPE, then you’re already part of the St HOPE family; and even if you don’t, you’ll be welcomed with open arms!