All MMFS 9th graders have something in common. Every one of them is navigating a new world—learning their way around the upper school on Sidney Place, meeting new teachers, making new friends, and adjusting to a new schedule, new responsibilities, and new expectations. To assist our newly minted high school students with this dizzying array of challenges, Social worker Aniru Thomas and Spanish teacher Gabi Cardenas teach Freshman Workshop. 9th Grade Dean (and social studies teacher) John Seifert says that the transition from middle school to upper school brings not only more personal responsibility, but also more choices. So it’s important to provide these students with a space for asking questions and learning how to be both comfortable and successful in high school.
Freshman Workshop is a full-year class that meets once a cycle. It is discussion-based and graded on active participation. Students are allowed and in fact encouraged to ask any questions they have about high school life—academic or social. This helps to develop those all-important self-advocacy skills that are the foundation of an MMFS education.
One of the first topics of the year: who are the people in this building, beyond your classroom teachers, who support you. That lesson presents a veritable Who’s Who of the upper school, complete with pictures and contact information. Students are introduced to everyone from the division directors to the front desk staff, the counseling team, the nursing team, and the speech and language therapists so they are familiar with all the adults in the building who are there to help them. Another important topic coming up is friendship, because the social dynamics of high school are very different from those at middle school. There is also a new unit on Race and Identity to give an introduction on terms and definitions that will be used in subsequent student development classes.
Freshman Workshop helps our new upper school students feel comfortable in their new space and helps develop the skills and confidence to meet the challenges ahead.