Panel Calls for Middle School Plan Report: Team Up Teachers and Replace Junior Highs

Article excerpt

A committee has recommended that the Francis Howell School District replace its junior high schools with middle schools.

The committee says that junior high schools mimic high schools but middle schools focus on the total development of students and place as much emphasis on social skills and emotional development as on academic skills.

The philosophy of middle schools is that children learn best in a safe, humane and supportive environment and that the greatest opportunities for personal happiness are afforded those children who have the tools to become aware of themselves. A report prepared by the Middle Years Education Committee and presented to the Francis Howell School Board at a meeting last week said that middle schools could produce students who are lifelong learners.

The report is one of three commissioned by the board to plan for the future of the district and its need for buildings. The other committees studied solutions to crowding in the high schools and the ramifications of expanding the year-around school schedule.

The School Board will review the reports in detail at work sessions scheduled for 6:30 p.m. Thursday and 1 p.m. Sunday in the school administration building at 4545 Central School Road. The reports will be used in planning.

"We're really at a crossroads here, and this will set the direction as to where we're going," said Francis Howell Superintendent John Oldani.

Because of the amount of information and the implications for the future of the district, Oldani expects the board to schedule further sessions to study the reports.

The middle school committee has advised the board that middle schools should include students in the sixth, seventh and eight grades.

The committee cited a passage from C.F. Toepfer Jr.'s book, "Achieving Excellence Through the Middle Level Curriculum," that said middle schools should be flexible enough to match the pace of each individual student. …