Head of Middle School Jen Schuckman Addresses Prospective Parents

At our annual admission Open House held last weekend, Head of Middle School Jen Schuckman addressed prospective families interested in joining our community in the formative years of grades five through eight. Here are her remarks.

Good morning and welcome to MICDS!

I am Jen Schuckman, Head of Middle School, and it is my delight to welcome you to our campus on this crisp, fall morning. I hope that you will be able to take a moment to peek across campus before you head home as it is a spectacular sight to see, especially during this magical, colorful time of year.

Recently, I was reminded of one of my children’s favorite books from when they were little: We’re Going on a Bear Hunt. It has been morphed into a Jeep commercial, and hearing the words on the commercial took me back. I read these words so many times.

“We’re going on a bear hunt. We’re going to catch a big one. What a beautiful day! We’re not scared. Oh-oh! A forest! A big, dark forest. We can’t go over it. We can’t go under it. Oh-oh! We’ve got to go through it! Stumble trip! Stumble trip! Stumble trip!”

“Oh-oh! We’ve got to go through it.
Stumble trip. Stumble trip. Stumble trip.”

Ask any adult and they will likely say that this is what middle school felt like for them. It was something they had to get through. They will tell you, “These were the tough years, the awkward years, the drama years.” “I would never go back to middle school.”  “So sorry you have to go through it.”

But I firmly believe, and I am sure that these amazing students up front will agree, that these are actually some of the very best years of growing up, and you will find the MICDS version of the middle school bear hunt to be a glorious adventure. With just the right combination of preparation and play all while developing a sense of self and perspective, we have created the structures, routines, and teaching and support teams to maximize every moment.

There is no question that middle school is chaotic and noisy and challenging and frustrating. It is also engaging and enlightening and energizing and joyful. This is what makes it so special.  It’s the hidden gem in the developmental trajectory of childhood and where the most significant growth and discovery happens. You get to spend your days in our cognitive playground to prepare for the demands and pressures of Upper School. And you gain a sense of reckless abandon when it comes to learning. Our students know that it is safe to take risks—whether it is trying out a new world language or picking up a squash racket for the first time or singing on stage at the talent show or taking on accelerated science—and they know that there are adults and classmates right alongside of them cheering them on and helping them. Reaching further and faster each day and bringing you even closer to knowing who you are and who you aspire to be.

This is our everyday. This is the privilege of being an adult in our middle school who witnesses the beauty of transformation. I am not sure how I got so lucky to have a front-row seat for this, but I count my blessings each and every day.

So as you think about middle school at MICDS, I hope you will think…I can’t go over it. I can’t go under it. Oh-yes! I can’t wait to go through it at MICDS! We will be with you every step, stumble, and trip along the way.