Friends' Central Middle School
Friends’ Central Middle School transforms eager, enthusiastic, and motivated elementary school students into self-aware, analytical, and empathetic eighth graders. Our Middle School program produces courageous leaders and independent thinkers who are ready for the challenges of Upper School and beyond.
The time and attention Friends’ Central Middle School teachers devote to encouraging, challenging, and supporting our students as individuals and members of the community sets us apart. Our teachers understand and delight in the opportunities and challenges that come with shepherding children into adolescence. The individual attention our teachers pay to their students’ intellectual, spiritual, and ethical selves enables them to thrive.
Middle School children become bold thinkers because they are encouraged to try new ideas and take intellectual risks. We champion trial and error, discovery, and intellectual courage in all areas of our Middle School curriculum. By doing so, we give students the self-confidence and academic skills that ensure success.
Our Middle School program is rich with academic, artistic, and athletic opportunities, as well as weekly clubs, community service, Meeting for Worship, mini-courses, instrumental and vocal groups, a fantastic drama program, and more. Students are encouraged to both discover new interests and pursue their personal passions.
“Our focus on relationships builds an incredible safety net for children at a particularly vulnerable time of their lives. The trust and assurance of relationships allows children to take risks and challenge themselves to higher levels of social and academic excellence. I don’t know what greater gift we can give kids.”
- Alexa Dunnington Quinn '98, Middle School Principal
For students entering Grade 6, Middle School is a new realm. For most, the transition includes a change from self-contained classrooms with a single teacher, to navigating the demands of a changing schedule and increasing academic demands. Guiding students through this process is is an important aspect of every grade 6 teacher’s role.
Grade 6 is a year of tremendous academic growth. Students build upon strong elementary school foundations and begin to acquire new, more sophisticated skills essential to their success in Middle School and beyond. Some examples include reading for more than plot, inferring authors’ messages and noticing literary techniques; drawing on prior knowledge and making predictions; learning the difference between working in a group and active collaboration; and developing plans to manage long term assignments.
Grade 6 highlights include:
- Weekly community Service
- Mini courses
- Study of the Renaissance with a trip to the Renaissance Faire
Students entering Grade 7 are mastering the transition to Middle School and are working to understand and manage the responsibility that comes with increasing independence. They are beginning to ask more of themselves, taking on some leadership roles in Middle School, preparing to step into the many demands of Grade 8.
Grade 7 is an important year in our students’ academic development. They move from the important lessons of grade 6 to increasingly abstract and independent thinking, viewing their world and the greater world in a more analytical way. Some examples of this include working effectively within a group by helping the group to problem solve, supporting a point of view with textual evidence, using prior knowledge to ask good questions, and challenging assumptions thoughtfully and carefully. Increasingly, grade 7 students are understanding their own thought processes and the way they learn.
Grade 7 highlights include:
- Weekly community service
- A week at Echo Hill Outdoor School
Grade 8 is a critical year in our students preparation for Upper School and beyond. Grade 8 students are the leaders of Middle School. Their leadership skills are mentored and they are encouraged to take leadership roles in activities. This often involves mentoring younger students. They are beginning to know themselves and to pursue their passions, using their gifts to achieve individual success and for the community.
With the help of teachers, Grade 8 students have learned about themselves as learners. They understand how to approach different aspects of their learning - how to study for tests, how to approach projects, how to choose group members who will complement them - to ensure future success. They know how to use the resources around them effectively – advisors, teachers, support staff, family and friends. They understand how to safely and appropriately take risks – whether intellectual or otherwise. Some examples include, creating and supporting an original argument, making increasingly sophisticated connections between and among their studies of different disciplines, being self-directed learners planning their own approaches to projects, and mapping out their timelines.
Grade 8 highlights include:
- Weekly Community Service
- EarthForce projects
- The 8th Grade Showcase
The advisory program is an essential component of the Middle School program that is designed to ensure academic success and the healthy personal development of each student. Students see their advisors at least twice every day: in homeroom at the beginning of the day and in the advisory period immediately at the end of the academic day. Advisors are responsible for overseeing their advisees’ experience at school – academic, social and emotional – and acting as both the point person for that student’s teachers and the connector from school to home. Advisors encourage their advisees to attain personal goals, become better self-advocates, and develop resilience.
Because our classes are small and teachers know students so well, our classroom teachers are the first layer of support for students who may need additional academic assistance or enrichment in a given subject area. We also have a full-time Middle School learning specialist to work with students who may need additional strategies, including those related to organization, time-management and study skills. Our Middle School counselor helps to organize programming ranging from healthy choices to friendship skills, in addition to working with individual students who may need social and emotional support.
Alexa has been the principal of Friends’ Central’s Middle School since 2012 and a member of the Middle School administrative team since 2008. Before becoming principal, Alexa spent ten years as a teacher of Language Arts and Writers’ Workshop, an advisor, and coach at FCS. Alexa holds a Master’s degree in English from Middlebury College and a Master’s in School Leadership from the University of Pennsylvania. She is also a graduate of Friends’ Central, Class of 1998, and the parent of a Lower School student.
Language Arts Teacher
Keino is in his first year as Middle School Assistant Principal. Prior to this, he held administrative positions as Middle School Dean of Students for three years and as Director of Diversity for five years. Keino has spent 20 years in the classroom teaching Language Arts and in developing a service group model for student leaders. Holding Bachelor’s degrees in both Speech Communications and English, Keino went on to gain a Masters of Science in Education from the University of Pennsylvania. Currently a Doctoral candidate at Temple University, Keino’s research focuses on how students attending independent schools develop social capital. A collegiate athlete in basketball, Keino has also spent time as Head Basketball Coach for the Varsity boys' program.