Laura Reff, Director of Marketing & Communications
While our students are enjoying their summer activities and time off from BZ, we are anxiously awaiting their return and ramping up for the start of the school year. We had the chance to continue our chat with Ms. Steele, and learn quite a bit more from her. And as a reminder for Middle School parents interested in meeting with Ms. Steele, click here to schedule a time.
BZ: What advice would you give rising Middle School parents?
Ms. Steele: Middle school presents you and your child with so many new opportunities! I encourage you to take risks, get involved and get excited to join this wonderful community of parents, students and teachers. We have a variety of amazing faculty to get to know, clubs and teams your child can join, they’ll learn new skills to practice and master, go on exciting field trips and overnights, and be part of community events you’ve seen over the years.
BZ: What differences should parents be aware of as their kids enter Middle School, and what will your faculty do to make the transition easier on them?
Ms. Steele: Middle School is not as self-contained as Lower School. Instead, students will travel to a variety of classrooms and have teachers who are experts in their content area teaching them. Their days are lively and demanding! But our warm, experienced faculty shepherds them throughout the experience.
Middle School is a time when your child will begin to find their independence, identity, and their self-motivation. They may become more in-tune with their emotions or bodies, and they may become more deeply passionate or idealistic about a meaningful issue, but they certainly will practice all different kinds of social interactions and develop their empathy and resilience. They will grow to understand themselves as learners and as Jewish young adults.
BZ: How does Middle School, specifically 8th grade, prepare our students for high school?
Ms. Steele: Our students are expertly prepared and driven to succeed within any rigorous, academic environment. While in Middle School at Bernard Zell, our advisors help students become powerful self-advocates and navigate a variety of social and executive functioning situations.
In high school, our alumni go on to excel in the humanities, science and math, and become creative, independent thinkers who have a voice and know how to use it. Our students don't just join clubs and teams, they spearhead them. They are leaders of Jewish student unions and youth groups, editors-in-chief of newspapers, stars in music and theater programs, participants in peer-mentoring programs, captains of sports teams, and the list goes on!
BZ: What are the intangible qualities that you’re excited to bring to this new role?
Ms. Steele: I feel skilled at building relationships with my students. Connecting with teenagers has always come really naturally to me. I know how to meet them where they are, get excited and supportive of their passions, and how to question and listen in ways that let them open up to me. I get their humor, their insecurities, and their goals.
Maintaining those relationships is very important to me. I keep in touch with so many of our alumni because a) I miss them, and b) I always want to be their cheerleader and a member of their "village". I love being able to say, " I knew so and so when…".
BZ: One of the many reasons you’re a great fit for this position is your vast experience in the classroom as a teacher. Over the years, what have you taught, and will you continue teaching?
Ms. Steele: I have been fortunate enough to teach every grade in Middle School, so I have a deep familiarity with how those students learn and thrive. I taught 5th grade science, 5th and 6th grade Reading and Writing Workshops, and 7th and 8th grade Reading Workshops. I’m very excited to be teaching one Media Studies class this year.
Click here for the previous Q&A with Ms. Steele.