By Reed Gabhart, Head of Goshen Campus

This Wednesday saw our annual Back-to-School Night for our Middle School parents, and this year we shook things up a bit! We decided that rather than focus on sharing curricular goals for the year, instead we wanted to better engage our parents and provide some educational opportunities for them. We opened up with a simulation of our Middle School Morning Meeting led by three of our 8th grade representatives: President Jackson Sleadd, Sophie Kirby, and Jane McLeroy. They were polished and poised and took us on a humorous journey through our Mission Statement and Core Values. We took a serious look at our revamped Parent-Student Handbook, and Alexandra gave quick summaries of three of the summer reading books our faculty read. I presented a more in-depth synopsis of the fourth summer reading book, iGen: Why Today’s Super-Connected Kids Are Growing Up Less Rebellious, More Tolerant, Less Happy – and Completely Unprepared for Adulthood, which we highly recommend our Middle School parents read to learn more about the effects of screen time on the current generation. I’d like to tell you the results paint a rosy picture, but that’s not the case. In summary, reduced screen time is highly recommended for our adolescents for many reasons!

After Jackson dismissed everyone with some fun trivia facts (a staple of Morning Meeting this year – who knew the world record for simultaneous hula hooping is 200!?), parents had a menu of presentations they could choose to attend for two 20-minute sessions. It was fun to watch a large group of Middle School parents “go back to math class” and grapple with a probability problem led by our math teachers. The real point was demonstrating how our CPM (College Preparatory Math) program is delivered, and parents were able to see how our students work in teams and don’t just have the material spoon-fed to them. (Pattie Koth earned some laughs when she pointed out how some of the parents behaved just as their kids do!) Our language arts, science, and world language teachers hosted a session on literacy and differentiation in our Middle School classrooms that was well-attended, too. And many parents took advantage of a counseling presentation by Julie Marks and Shelly Jones titled “Avoiding the Perfect Parent Trap.” There were also demonstrations on using the Parent Portal and the Google Platform effectively, and our fine arts teachers offered sessions in art and music. An Open House rounded out the night’s schedule.

I welcome feedback from any Middle School parent who attended on how they enjoyed the evening. I’m especially interested to hear from those who are used to the “old” format versus the updated one. We’ll be sure to keep your opinions in mind when we plan next year’s Back-to-School Night – but we have an exciting year to attend to first!