“This is awesome!” exclaimed SKMS school counselor Ms. Wisor describing the Falcon Buddy program. “Students are really listening to each other and supporting each other. Older students help guide younger students and encourage a sense of belonging at Skyline.” SKMS counselors developed Falcon Buddies pairing 5th graders with 8th grade “Buddies” to help students navigate the transition to middle school. Falcon Buddies is just one of numerous efforts at Skyline to foster our safe and welcoming community and to develop the 4th & 5th R’s: relationships and resiliency.
The middle school years are a crucial time for students to feel a sense of belonging; develop a growth mindset by practicing persistence; and to grow their interests and leadership skills. We have several interrelated efforts at Skyline to promote social-emotional well-being and community.
Daily Advisory & Community An expanded advisory program is our first school-wide program. Building on two years of weekly Olweus CAST meetings, our 940 students now start every day in small group gatherings of 8-15 students facilitated by a teacher advisor. Our advisories are intentionally supportive communities focused on social-emotional skill building. During extended advisory sessions, called CAST meetings, students “circle up” and pass a talking piece to check-in with each other to develop empathy and build relationships. Advisory teachers facilitate close home-school connections and provide mentorship to small groups of students. Another example of building community was this year’s Mix-it-Up lunch, where students sat with new friends and enjoyed conversation facilitated by teachers.
Growth Mindset & Productive Persistence At last year’s closing assembly, Mr. Kirwan shared an inspirational story about the value of a Growth Mindset. In 6th grade mathematics classrooms students engage in “Mindset Monday” lessons, and their teachers focus on developing the habits of persistence and wonder. In partnership with JMU, our 6th grade math students enjoy weekly lessons using a locally developed computer application to grow their Mathematical Mindset. Every week we recognize our Fantastic Friday Falcons to celebrate students who work hard and contribute to our community with a ‘can do’ spirit. We look forward to ‘growing’ our mindset work over the next few years.
Student Engagement & Leadership A third significant way we develop student resilience and positive relationships at Skyline is through student leadership opportunities. Our students participate in AVID classes, lead the student council, donate hours to the Builder’s Club, help fellow students as Student Ambassadors and are active in numerous sports teams. One new opportunity this year is our after-school soccer program begun by our home-school liaison, Tony Fajardo. Over 75 students participate in this twice weekly program proudly wearing their new soccer jerseys. Skyline is the first area middle school to have an intermural soccer program of this size. Soccer playing students and their families express pride in belonging and commitment to our school and our team.
At Skyline, we help our Falcons SOAR in many ways. We are committed to developing the whole child at Skyline by building relationships and developing resiliency. As we say every morning at the end of announcements: “Remember to work hard, be nice, dream big and SOAR to new heights!”