March is Middle School Month, a time of special significance to Columbus, Ohio since it is the location of the oldest public junior high school in the nation, Indianola Middle School, which celebrated its Centennial anniversary in 2009.
In addition, the Association for Middle Level Education, formerly the National Middle School Association, has its headquarters in Westerville, Ohio. The organization devoted to “Helping You Achieve Successful Schools for Young Adolescents” provides valuable information on a wide range of topics from Advocacy to Young Adolescent Development, in addition to materials on Professional Development and Professional Preparation. It is also a repository for research in the area of middle school education and offers a host of useful publications, including This We Believe: Keys to Educating Young Adolescents. Described as “a critical resource for everyone involved in the education, health, and well being of today’s young adolescents,” this book describes the 16 vital characteristics of successful middle grades schools. Now in its fourth edition, AMLE’s landmark position statement shares the enduring lessons learned in more than 35 years of active middle school advocacy.
"Middle school marks the beginning of that long process that transforms your cuddling, temperate, enthusiastic child into a compassionate, well-rounded, energetic adult."
A few years ago this writer learned firsthand the challenges associated with middle school when he was Dean of Middle School at Sonshine Christian Academy for a year. He also became aware of how crucial the middle school years are when he taught a Bible study class to pre-adolescents and left the state for a short period of time. Upon his return, one of the students had matured quickly into a poised, soft-spoken young lady. He stood marveling at how rapidly she had blossomed in a young adult, when from a distance one of her friends said something and everyone laughed, but she simply blushed. In that instance, he recognized the look of innocence and wonder that was remembered when seeing in her face not that long ago. That experience inspired this poem:
Blush of Innocence
for Melissa and Angela
A blush of innocence upon the face
Of a budding girl at a tender age
Is the rare reward of those who trace
The essence of youth to its purest stage.
The heart of a child is an open garden
Where the rarest of flowers flourish and grow,
Though time schemes and devises to harden
The heart with weeds and walls that hide the glow.
Pure innocence blooms in a young girl’s eyes.
Look upon the glowing face and cherish
The petals, buds where tender beauty lies,
For fruit shall come and the blossom perish.
Though beauty spans beyond adolescence,
No smile outshines a blush of innocence.
From Stone upon Stone: Psalms of Remembrance
Without question the middle school years are a special time that we celebrate in March, Middle School Month.
National Association of Secondary School Principals has joined with the Association for Middle Level Education, The National Forum to Accelerate Middle Grades Reform, and the National Association of Elementary Principals to declare March the official month to celebrate middle level education. Click here to view a video promoting this month-long celebration.