Dear Middle School parents and students,
Our students’ success is our primary objective. Our middle schools are committed to high expectations and academic excellence for students. The focus on personalized learning ensures that all students at all academic levels reach and exceed their potential. We accelerate student learning by pairing excellent teaching with the right technology. We prepare students for the road ahead.
This guide will provide you with an overview of what middle school is like — full of opportunity, challenge and growth. It includes contact information for our schools, our middle school philosophy, and additional information to give you a sense of what takes place in our schools. Our focus is on your students — their learning, their development and their future. Please visit our schools anytime!
Beth Holm, principal, Chaska Middle School East
Nate Gibbs, principal, Chaska Middle School West
Dana Miller, principal, Pioneer Ridge Middle School
- Our Shared Mission
- Adolescent Development
- Preparing Life-Long Learners
- Academic Supports
- School Counselors
- Additional Supports
- Promoting Positive Behaviors That Support Learning
- Activities and Athletics
Our shared mission
To prepare each learner for successful completion of a post-secondary educational program, life-long learning, career opportunities and meaningful contributions as a citizen of the local and global community by providing personalized, rigorous and relevant learning experiences.
Our Mission and Educational Philosophy
In our secondary schools, your student will find a caring community focused on achievement, guided by values and committed to equity and excellence for all.
Our middle schools provide a learning environment that nurtures the cognitive, physical, social and emotional needs of 6th, 7th and 8th graders. We create structures to best meet the needs of middle schoolers. Each student meets with an advisor.
Our advisory program is designed to address the affective needs of young adolescents. The curriculum includes character education, academic skills for success, service learning, team building and post-secondary exploration. The advisory period gives students the opportunity to connect with their advisor and peers in a way that supports healthy development and academic success.
Staff members appreciate young adolescents for their energy, curiosity and idealism. They collaborate with parents and the community to provide a place where students can feel challenged and nourished, where they have the optimism that comes from multiple opportunities and the excitement that comes from exposure to new and personally meaningful experiences. Expectations for student growth in academic achievement and personal responsibility are high.
Our learners guide our work
Adolescence is a distinctive developmental stage characterized by significant growth and change. Experts tell us that adolescence today starts earlier and lasts longer than in previous generations. Understanding the adolescent experience is foundational to creating and implementing a successful secondary education system. In developing our middle school program, we paid particular attention to the following areas:
Physical Development/Brain Development
Bodies of adolescents grow and mature. They face coordination issues and restlessness. Their brains are refining and pruning some connections and strengthening others as their abilities to plan, reason, anticipate consequences, pay attention and make decisions continue to develop.
Reasoning, understanding and the ability for abstract thought grow significantly. To make sense of the world, adolescents prefer real-life learning experiences in areas they find useful or interesting.
Interest and capacity for more mature interaction with groups and individuals may not develop with the same speed as bodies and intellect. Adolescents need to belong; they test limits; they want to be like their peers.
Adolescents are searching for their own independent, adult identity. They may be moody or restless; they are frequently self-conscious and highly sensitive to criticism. They are likely to believe that their experiences and feelings are unique.
The ability to make principled choices grows in adolescence. This involves a transition from a focus on self to considering the rights and feelings of others. Idealism and a strong sense of fairness develop, along with a set of personal values. Shades of gray in moral issues may replace what has always appeared black and white. Understanding adolescent development and brain research support our focus on relevance, choice, real-life experiences and positive relationships.
A solid understanding of core subjects — reading, writing, math, social studies and science — is necessary, but no longer enough. In Eastern Carver County Schools we believe that 21st century learners start with a foundation of core academic subject knowledge, upon which they build 21st century skills — including communication, leadership, collaboration, critical thinking and problem solving, innovation/creativity, personal/ life skills, technology/media literacy and citizenship.
Our students will face issues in our global society that will require 21st century skills and content knowledge. Addressing these issues requires students to be prepared for a diverse and rapidly changing society. Students will need to be able to communicate, function and create change at local, national and global levels. By preparing students with both core knowledge and critical 21st century skills, we prepare students today for the world of tomorrow.
Middle School leads to High School Success
A key part of middle school is to prepare students for high school, when organization, rigor and preparation for college and career become even more critical. All middle school math, science, language arts and social studies classes are designed with the goal of supporting the academic program of the high schools. Core, Encore and Elective classes will support the high schools’ four Interest Areas: Arts and Communication; Health Science and Human Services; Global Studies; Science Technology, Engineering and Math (STEM). Middle school is designed to support the special social- emotional needs of students in grades 6-8, while helping to build the maturity needed for success in high school.
The middle school schedule includes an eighth period advisory which takes a holistic approach to the middle school learner. The curriculum is carefully designed by the staff that have direct connections to learners in the classroom. Advisory is designed to meet the needs of all students by designing lessons and creating opportunities for reflection with their Advisor to promote academic, social, and emotional growth. This includes a variety of topics such as the Positive Behavior Intervention System (PBIS) model; career/post-secondary planning; literacy; service learning; test preparation and assistance for students needing additional support.
What I Need (WIN)
WIN stands for What I Need, and is a highly personalized time in the day for prevention, intervention, enrichment, and extension opportunities. This might mean just-in-time help focused on current learning targets of the course or skills that learners have not obtained (i.e. coaching workshops, conferencing, additional practice, redo/retakes, technology practice, etc.). WIN also might be opportunities for learners to extend learning targets or engage in enrichment activities (i.e. moving ahead seminars, group flex, curiosity investigations, content challenges, makerspace, interdisciplinary projects, service learning, etc.)
Middle school students are characterized by rapid physical growth, curiosity about their world and an emerging self-identity. Middle school counselors have an impact on these years by implementing a comprehensive school counseling program and collaborating with school staff, parents and the community to create a safe, respectful learning environment whereby young adolescents can maximize personal and academic achievement. Middle school counselors enhance the learning process and promote academic, career and social/emotional development. School counseling programs are essential for students to achieve optimal personal growth, acquire positive social skills and values, set informed career goals and realize full academic potential to become productive, contributing members of the world community. Middle school counselors hold a master’s degree and required state certification in school counseling. Maintaining certification includes ongoing professional development to stay current with education reform and challenges facing today’s students. Professional association membership enhances the school counselor’s knowledge and effectiveness. (ASCA, 2017)
Please do not hesitate to contact the counselors at any time to discuss concerns or any questions you may have regarding your child or the counseling program.
Gifted Services at the middle schools support the intellectual, social and emotional needs of high-ability learners through exceptional, personalized learning. Gifted learners are given opportunities to extend and enrich their learning. Learners are encouraged to participate in academic enrichment and extracurricular opportunities. For further information, contact your school office.
Specialized Education Services
Eastern Carver County Schools are committed to providing an education that appropriately meets the needs of each student. For some students, supportive educational assistance is needed through specialized education services and related services. The Specialized Education department provides educational services that adhere to the federal regulations included within the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA) and to the Minnesota State requirements. The need for these services is determined by the student’s specialized education team. For further information regarding specialized education services, contact your school office, or find Specialized Education on our website (http://eccs.mn/sped).
Our middle school English Learner (EL) program provides opportunities for students to increase English language skills in reading, writing, speaking and listening. Program goals include developing proficient and fluent users of English academic and social language and applying literacy skills across content to further academic success. Eligibility is dependent on ACCESS test (Assessing Comprehension and Communication in English State-to-State), or the WIDA Screener. Based on learner personal needs and language proficiency levels, students will be placed in either a stand-alone class (pull-out EL class with other English Learners) or a team-taught content area class (two teachers working together in a general education classroom teaching English language development and content).
Educating learners is not limited to academic readiness. The ability to learn and grow in foundational lifelong skills is also at the forefront of an educational experience. Our district has committed to separating behaviors of a successful learner from academic success as outlined in our 3rd Guiding Principle of Assessment for Learning. Our middle schools teachers report on a variety of Behaviors that Support Learning including:
- Striving for personal best
- Showing respectful behavior
- Interacting collaboratively with peers
- Engaging in learning
- Exhibiting responsibility
- Demonstrating accountability
Promoting Positive Behavior: P.R.I.D.E. Eastern Carver County Schools’ Positive Behavior Intervention Support System P.R.I.D.E. = Our students will be Prepared and Respectful while demonstrating Integrity, Dependability and Excellence.
What is PRIDE?
The exceptional approaches we use for teaching extend to our behavior support system. Known as “PRIDE,” this is a framework for achieving and ensuring the best possible behavior outcomes. PRIDE is not a curriculum, intervention, or practice — it is a decision-making framework that guides selection and integration of positive behavior choices and improves academic and behavior outcomes for all students.
What Does PRIDE Emphasize?
PRIDE emphasizes four integrated elements: (a) data for decision making, (b) measurable outcomes supported and evaluated by data, (c) practices with evidence that these outcomes are achievable and (d) systems that efficiently and effectively support the implementation of these methods.
Define and teach positive social expectations
Acknowledge positive behavior
Arrange consistent consequences for problem behavior
On-going collection and use of data for decision-making
Continuum of intensive, individual interventions
Administrative leadership — team-based implementation (systems that support effective practices)
We offer a variety of athletics and activity options for middle school students through our Community Education department. Most programs take place after school and include sports/fitness, music, art, STEM, outdoor education and academic enrichment opportunities. There is a shuttle bus available to transport students to another school if the activity they register for does not take place at their school.
Education catalogs promoting these programs are published three times a year (fall, winter/spring and summer). Students can check with their school office for flyers about athletic and activity opportunities. Parents/ guardians will find information and be able to register online at www.ce4all.org or in the district’s e-flyer service, Peachjar, at eccs.mn/peachjar.