In this two-part series we look at how students at the Middle School are learning to find the "I can" in the midst of challenges they face, choosing to make this sometimes awkward yet very special season of life their time to shine.
In Part 1 we saw how students at Minnehaha Academy are learning to develop the mindsets "I can do hard things" and "I can take responsibility for my success". Today we want to look at two more mindsets that are foundational to who our students are becoming as they make their way through the incredibly important Middle School years.
I Can Try New Things
If you walk into Katie Humason’s 7th grade digestion unit this winter you’ll see something slightly alarming: students sifting through lumps of digestive waste.
The waste in question is the product of the working digestive systems that Ms. Humason’s students create each winter. And while some students may initially feel squeamish about the idea, this is continually one of the favorite projects at the Middle School.
"It really helps them to visualize and understand how a digestive system works,” Ms. Humason explains.
"They plan it and then they build it. They decide what materials they use; they have to have all of the major organs...they put real food through it and we collect the waste at the end and it’s evaluated. Only in Middle School, right?"
From Ms. Humason's highly exploratory life science classes to Emily Firkus's robotics and autoCad units, where students code working tools and learn to use the same software modern-day engineers design with, trying new things is built into the DNA of how the Middle School operates.
Beyond the classroom, Middle School students can choose from nearly 30 extracurricular opportunities. Many take part in multiple activities, with a dizzying array of combinations that you might not expect to see together, from soccer to Diversity Club, football to GeoBee.
"[Middle School] kids are still open; they haven’t yet self-identified so narrowly," explains Principal Balmer.
By developing this habit of trying new things students are more likely to discover their own special niche earlier in life, as well as approach unexpected changes in their career journey with a willingness to adapt.
I Can Face A Challenge
It's been said that people often approach challenges with one of two mental refrains: I can, or I can't.
We don't expect our students to succeed in every challenge they meet, but we do want to see them face these challenges with tenacity and creativity.
Whether it's saying "I can explore more ways to connect with reading" or "I can try new things and find creative responses when my plans fall through," we want our students to find the "I can" in the challenges they face.
This is the good news about who our students are becoming: developing a "can do" identity empowers students to step into the fullness of their God-given potential and reflect His glory, shining amidst the challenging, the mundane, and the extraordinary moments of life.
If you're curious about what sort of things this mindset can lead to, we encourage you to explore the blog posts tagged "alumni stories", where we share stories of where Minnehaha Academy graduates making their mark on the world.