Why Middle School at SMUS?

Learning at SMUS is very hands-on

Middle School is when students start becoming more independent and SMUS is here to support that growth

Middle School is an important time in the lives of children. It’s the age when they start to depend on their parents less; they become more independent and friends become more influential. They gain an increasing sense of self, of strengths and weaknesses, and of their place in society.

The Middle School is designed to assist students as they go through this transition. In partnership with our parent community, SMUS recognizes the pressures on adolescents. We have deliberately created a school that nurtures our students and supports them in becoming accomplished, confident and empathetic young adults.

Ideal Middle School Size

Research shows that a high level of adult guidance is critical to the social and emotional development of adolescents. For this reason, we keep the Middle School population at about 200 students. This means we can provide a high ratio of teachers to students, keep class sizes small and form a close-knit and supportive community where everybody knows each other.

Our Pillars

When you visit the SMUS Middle School you will see and hear four words repeated throughout: Courage, Honesty, Respect and Service. We call these our School Pillars and they are at the heart of everything we do. Students often reflect on the Pillars and assess their own progress – academically and socially – using them.

Character Development

Leading on from the Pillars, the Middle School years are when students become more independent and reflect on the type of person they want to be. Central to this is the idea of empathy and it's why we place great emphasis on leadership and service programs. Students at SMUS take on responsibilities not because they have to, but because they see the importance of giving back to their community.
 

Tanya LeeCharacter education is becoming more important because this world requires you to be resilient and adaptable, creative and curious, and to also have empathy for other people. What we do here is set you up for success in the world that waits for you.
Tanya Lee
Humanities and Communications Skills teacher
Exploring and Taking Risks

Middle School is the perfect age for students to try new things and at SMUS we both encourage and support them. The program and opportunities at the Middle School are designed to allow students to jump in and expand their world, from learning a new instrument to 3D modelling. We also have Exploratory, a regularly scheduled class specifically for this type of activity, which gives students the chance to try new areas of interest.

Experiential Education

Students learn not just from textbooks but from experience too. We call this experiential education. At the Middle School, this is made real through project-based learning, where students are encouraged to follow their own curiosity and work to answer a driving question from a real-world scenario. Projects are often cross-disciplinary and involve experts from outside our community. For example, each year Grade 6 students work with city planners to tackle a real-life urban planning problem.

Personalized Learning

We are a leader in personalization. That means a SMUS education is tailored to each student – their strengths, their weaknesses and their interests. In conjunction with personalization, the school focuses on developing seven important characteristics as the Portrait of a Learner. These seven qualities (balance, collaboration, curiosity, empathy, resilience, initiative and integrity) are a framework by which students develop into lifelong learners.

No Phone Zone

SMUS is deeply invested in classroom technology but we do not allow cellphones at the Middle School. In our experience, cellphones are a distraction from face-to-face student life, especially at an age when young people do not yet have the skills to use them responsibly. Without cellphones and other devices, our students spend their lunch hours kicking a ball on the field, playing chess, reading and – most importantly for development – socializing with one another.

A Love of Learning

The adolescent years can be the time when young people lose their natural curiosity and joy of learning. At SMUS, we work hard to ensure that this doesn’t happen and that our supportive community continues to foster a love of learning that will serve our students well both at the Senior School and beyond.