Our programs take into consideration where the children come from socially, emotionally and cognitively, how they develop and change in middle school and where we expect them to be when entering our High School.
Our classes are entirely student-centered, and our students’ needs and abilities drive the curriculum. Throughout middle school, our students work hard to develop a sense of self and start to become aware of their place in the world. Through reading classic novels, writing, and critical thinking, we explore questions of identity, work on interpersonal skills and explore how one adjusts to peer groups and pressure. We foster a love of reading, breed independence and talk about developing a greater sense of responsibility for behaviors and decisions.
In 8th grade, our theme for the year is ethical dilemmas and decision making. We read a variety of works keeping one eye on language and comprehension, and the other on the social and emotional growth of the characters by interviewing and putting ourselves in their shoes.
In all subjects taught at SSLI, we emphasize active learning so that our students directly participate in the progress of each lesson. This method has proven especially effective in our mathematics program.
Rather than relying on lectures alone, our math department takes a multifaceted approach by bringing interactive exercises into the classroom. The Desmos computer program helps students understanding graphing, and geoboards allow them to better visualize the principles of geometry. These methods help students both understand their lessons more clearly and demonstrate their comprehension more easily.
By eighth grade, a vast majority of our students are prepared to take the New York State Regents exams in Algebra 1. This qualifies them for the accelerated track in high school, which is a testament to the success of the middle school math program.
Through discovery and experimentation, we introduce our students to concepts of Biology, Chemistry, and Physics. They practice the scientific method, design experiments, and observe the fascinating natural processes for themselves while preparing for and presenting at science competitions. In the 8th grade, our students study and test for the Earth Science Regents exam, and consistently score very highly. Our teachers’ passion for the subjects they teach is infused into every topic covered, with every teacher bringing their own unique flair into the already set programs.
The middle school social studies program is designed with the 21st-century student in mind. To that end, our classroom is student-centered and lessons are designed to be interactive and hands on. Our students are engaged in activities that foster independent thinking. They may be role-playing as medieval kings or enlightenment philosophers. We use a variety of learning tools such as student-generated artwork, or restaurant menus of a foreign land. Our classrooms are boisterous, buzzing with student activity, all guided by enthusiastic teachers who build mutual trust with their students.
Learning Hebrew is one of the cornerstones of an education at SSLI. We focus not only on the language itself but teach our students about the culture and the history of their homeland.
Middle school is a time of milestones, with celebrations like bat and bar mitzvahs front and center for our students. We emphasize lessons about our students’ heritage as they begin to enter the larger world of young adulthood. At this age, our students begin to carry on full conversations in Hebrew with their peers, teachers and other Hebrew speakers.
It is a great joy to help our students become fluent in Hebrew. We encourage them to step into the wider world they will find opened to them as they learn more of their language and their heritage.
As our students excitedly become young Jewish adults in their Middle School years, our curriculum builds to match their ability and interests. Jewish studies in the Middle School include the study of Rabbinics (Mishna and Gemara) and Bible (Torah, Prophets and Writings). Our students are introduced to the Chavruta model of Jewish text study, which utilizes paired learning and encourages each child to find their own personal meaning in the texts, through dialogue and debate. In these ways, we cultivate a love for Jewish learning and teach the skills necessary for independent thinking.
The MS Art Program aims to continue on the elementary school path of learning about art in history, culture, and community. As the student’s confidence with art-making develops, they become problem solvers and artists who experiment with the medium. Craftsmanship and mindfulness are stressed as they become more aware of their abilities. Art education at SSLI helps students to develop an appreciation for art in our world.
Our Spanish program begins in 6th grade and can continue, if the student so chooses, through 12th grade. Students learn the building blocks of the language, starting with basic conjugation and grammar, and moving into the vocabulary and speaking. As Spanish is our students’ second foreign language, it gives students a leg up in society. Alumni report that knowing Spanish is an advantage when seeking employment in any field. Spanish is spoken in 21 countries, so it’s inclusion in Schecter is very beneficial to the students.