By Patte Ardizzonni
Hampton Union, Tuesday, September 13, 2005
[The following article is courtesy of the Hampton Union and Seacoast Online]
[Patte Ardizzonni photo]
HAMPTON - Hampton Academy Junior High has officially changed its name to Hampton Academy, and with that change comes significant restructuring of how Hampton’s sixth-, seventh- and eighth-graders will learn.
Parents, teachers and staff gathered on Thursday, Sept. 8, to learn about the shift in Hampton Academy’s vision and mission as it relates to the middle school blueprint.
"The changes in their bodies that students aged 11 to 13 years go through is equivalent to the development of an infant through 18 months," said Deborah Joyce, curriculum facilitator at Hampton Academy.
"It’s the physical, intellectual and emotional changes that are in high gear during these grades. Personality, values and attitudes form, they’re sensitive, vulnerable and emotional. The middle school concept really speaks to these special and unique qualities," she said.
The key elements of a middle school include parents and community, curriculum, instruction (high standards), relationships for learning (teaming), govern democratically (teams, team leaders, community council), staffing and a safe and healthy environment.
All of those elements help the teachers to succeed in providing some very specific curriculum agendas.
The middle school concept is designed to involve students in the entire learning process. It challenges and motivates by offering exploratory and enrichment activities.
A very large piece to that formula is the belief that education is a family and community affair.
Principal Fred Muscara spoke to the teaming approach of Hampton Academy’s curriculum.
"The only way to operate the school is to be part of a team. Will we make mistakes this year? Probably," he said. "But I believe that the only way you don’t make mistakes is if you don’t do anything."
As the school year moves forward, Muscara and his staff will be using questions such as, "As a school, where do we want to be five years from now?" to measure the growth of this newly focused curriculum.
Hampton Academy has also committed itself, along with the other Hampton schools, to keeping abreast of each school’s curriculum. The end result is a much more seamless journey through the schools for the students.
The curriculum at Centre will morph into that of Marston, which will transfer to Hampton Academy and then mesh with Winnacunnet.
Parents had questions and, when invited to raise their hands, several concerns were voiced.
"Will there be major changes in the content of the curriculum and what will you do to catch the students up to the content that they may have missed?"
"Will all the sixth-, seventh- and eighth-graders end up at the same place (educationally) by the end of the school year after participating in the newly adopted 'team’ approach?"
"Is numerical grading going to replace letter grading?"
After answering the questions Muscara closed the meeting with an invitation offered up with a laugh.
"I invite parents to come to me at any time with their questions. My desk is against the wall and my back is to the door. I’m not afraid of anything!"