At our last department heads meeting we approved a new eighth grade seminar that will, I believe, have a profound impact on our students.
In my 16 years at Burroughs, I have seen our academic, arts and athletic programs continue to evolve and to flourish. But, to me, the biggest issues at Burroughs—and at schools nationally—are those that have come outside of the traditional curriculum, but take up the vast majority of the headspace of adolescents. To help our students navigate these years, we've developed a new course that all eighth graders will begin to take next fall. The course will address developmental topics that students encounter at school and in the larger community: friendship and relational concerns; online presence and security; identity of self and others; management of stress, anxiety and mental health; sleep and nutrition; leadership; alcohol, drugs and addiction; body image; sustainability and global citizenship; sex education, harassment and consent; gender and sexual orientation; cultural awareness, analysis and competency; race and socio-economic status; and service to others.
Jennifer Jones, director of counseling and wellness; Kim Bouldin-Jones, health educator; Scott Deken, principal of grades 9 and 10; Daniel Harris, director of diversity and multi-cultural education; and Julie Harris, principal of grades 7 and 8, spent many days together throughout the summer and fall working on the curriculum, and it promises to benefit the entire Burroughs community.
Beginning with the seventh grade orientation class—which will next year be renamed the seventh grade seminar—and continuing with our ninth grade health class and tenth grade diversity seminar, this new course will give us a four-year sequence to allow us to be very intentional about the deeper learning that occurs best when we expose our students to communication and listening skills that increase their capacity to collaborate, to think critically, and to think and act empathetically as they move through middle school and into high school.