📓 A Message from Emily Crane, Head of Middle School | January 17, 2024
Emily Crane, Head of Middle School
Greetings Middle School families, 
As we begin the second half of the academic year, I’d like to provide a refresher on Responsive Classroom, the heart of our community building. We want each of our middle school students to feel seen, heard, and valued. A critical element of a strong community is empathy. Throughout our curriculum, we are specifically targeting the skill of empathy and helping our students build and practice it both formally and informally. A great school community cannot prevent all mean or bullying behavior but it can provide support when it happens. 
All of our students participate in developmentally appropriate programming and activities in Gibush (Advisory). We continue to focus on students being able to recognize bullying behavior, develop self-awareness in group dynamics, and make smart choices online. Middle school-aged children can sometimes earn a reputation for thoughtless behavior, but they always look for role models! And though a middle schooler would rarely admit it, their teachers and parents are often their main role models. As you read books or watch movies with your children, try subtly pointing out when characters live the values that you hope to instill. (A personal favorite of mine is the movie The Sandlot, in which a "cool" Benny gives a baseball glove to a shy newcomer and invites him to join their team). To help your child develop empathy you might try:
  • Asking what they notice. What do they believe people are feeling, based on their non-verbal communication – facial expressions, body language, and tone of voice? Labeling these feelings will help them think about and understand others.
  • Help them understand the other person’s point of view. Ask them what they think their peers might be thinking, or how they might see the situation. Ask them what the other person might want to happen and why.
  • Encourage them to come up with ways everyone can get what they need. Brainstorm different and interesting ways they could go about it. Help them choose options that work best for everyone and put them into practice!
As our students reflect on previous experiences and behaviors, set their intentions for 2024, and ensure bonds with their classroom and grade-level communities, they are thoughtfully guided by our faculty to be inclusive, independent thinkers who stand up for their community members and their belief in what is right. We all can model widening our circles, using kind language, and giving people second chances. Our Jewish and school values of kehillah (community), teshuvah (working to make things better), ve’ahavta le’rey’echa kamocha (love your neighbor like yourself) and chaverut (friendship), help guide us throughout the rest of the year.  
As always, we are grateful for your partnership and ongoing collaboration. 
Wishing all my best for a happy and healthy new year,
Emily Crane, Head of Middle School

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