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Middle school plans to re-structure course offerings

Implementation of seventh grade health and wellness course

For the past year, a targeted focus has been placed on promoting the health and wellness of every student in Schuylerville. Stemming from a 2019-20 administrative goal, creating a comprehensive and cohesive network of mental health and wellness provisions and supports has been made a priority. As the capital project construction at Schuylerville Middle School continues, a change in the physical layout presents an opportunity for program changes as well.

The district is currently in the process of developing a course that will be offered to all students in seventh grade that focuses on health and mental wellness. The approach is two-fold; not only is it linked to the overall mental health philosophy for the district, but also adheres to New York state social-emotional learning benchmarks:

  1. Develop self-awareness and self-management skills essential to success in school and in life.
  2. Use social awareness and interpersonal skills to establish and maintain positive relationships.
  3. Demonstrate ethical decision-making skills and responsible behaviors in personal, school, and community contexts.

“We are using this as an opportunity to take a look at all of our offerings, knowing our students have a need for mental health and mental wellness,” said Schuylerville Middle School Principal, Katie Elsworth. “This class will not just be for students who struggle with mental health; it’s for all students, so they know how to take care of themselves in the most appropriate way.”

Elsworth says the new course will be a proactive approach to supporting students’ overall health and well-being; a ‘whole child’ philosophy. It will focus on personal wellness, mental illness awareness, personal growth and development and healthy relationships. In addition, a focus will be placed on navigating social media, stress management, nutrition, and elements of family and consumer science courses.

“We see some kids struggling with stress and anxiety more than ever and they need strategies on how to deal with that,” said Elsworth. “We all have obstacles in our life. If we can give our students the strategies they’ll need when those obstacles come along, it will ultimately improve their overall health and wellbeing in and outside of school. You can’t always manage everything that happens around you, but you can manage how you respond to it.”

Meaningful middle-level CTE learning experiences

Another change in curriculum at the middle school will be an expansion of Career and Technical Education (CTE.) The current half-year Computer 7 class will be changed to a year-long CTE Business class, which will include a focus on personal finance, career interests, business career portfolios, computer literacy in the workplace, and entrepreneurship. The course will provide meaningful CTE learning experiences for students, with the goal of preparing them for high school programs. In addition, Technology will be expanding from two, half-year courses in seventh and eighth grade to a full-year course in eighth grade. This will accompany the new middle school technology classroom that will open in the fall of 2020 as part of the capital project.

“The timing of the middle school capital project addition gave us the opportunity to look at our programming and expand students’ hands-on learning experiences outside the traditional four core subject learning areas,” said Elsworth. “I’m excited for an even higher level of engagement for our students and the ability to expand their exposure to different career pathways before they reach the high school.” 

The middle school courses will be finalized in the coming months and be implemented for the 2020-21 school year.