In Focus @ GWA
A news bulletin for the families of George Walton Academy
The GWA Middle School Experience
The 2020-2021 school year is underway and set to be an exciting one! Despite a global pandemic and all the constraints that come along with it, we are committed to advancing our mission to provide “challenging instruction, engaging experiences, and global perspectives designed to inspire lives of intellectual curiosity, integrity, and purpose.” This means constantly being willing to evaluate our curriculum, programs, and pedagogy to ensure a relevant and dynamic learning experience for all students. This year, I am excited to join Femke Côté and Jenny Duke in working to align and enrich the academic experience from Pre-K3 through twelfth grade.
While Middle School serves as a transition from Lower School to Upper School, it is a unique and defining stage in its own right. During early adolescence, students undergo physical, emotional, cognitive, and social changes at an increased rate and all of those factors impact their academic performance. The GWA Middle School experience is designed with this in mind and continues to adapt to better meet the specific needs of students during this time.
One area in which middle school students need guidance and support is with study skills and executive functioning development. This year, a team of middle school teachers, in partnership with the counseling department, is creating a series of lessons to intentionally teach a number of essential professional and life skills, including time management, organization, task initiation, and accountability. In addition, we have expanded our elective offerings in the Middle School to include 12 different areas of study to allow students to pursue their growing curiosities and interests during this time. Understanding that middle school students value relevant, real-world content and authentic learning experiences, we are aiming to incorporate even more inquiry and project-based learning into our curriculum this year. We want to see students actively engaged in their learning, excited about exploring the unknown, grappling with complex issues, and reflecting on their growth and progress. This leads to deeper and longer-lasting learning and encourages the development of critical thinking and problem-solving skills.
In addition to the content and skills that guide the curriculum, middle school students need connection, perhaps now more than ever. At GWA, limited class sizes, increased opportunities for one-on-one connection with teachers, and an advisory program that provides individual guidance and support to students underscores our belief that relationships are foundational to learning. After being away from campus for five months, we are delighted to be back alongside students as we all work to become better learners, better friends, and better humans this year.
Ultimately, we are most excited about what we are building together - lives of intellectual curiosity, integrity, and purpose. Moving forward, we will continue to evaluate our programs and progress with this goal in mind and adapt to serve the specific needs of our students and best prepare them to make a positive impact in a constantly changing world. The potential represented at GWA is endless, and we count it a privilege to partner with you in nurturing and developing the hearts, minds, and lives of this generation of leaders. We are indeed gaining strength as we go!
Middle School Division Head
Sign Your Name
Students in Honors American Sign Language Class received their name signs on Tuesday. With help from Mrs. Gahan’s husband, Mike Gahan, each student was given a name sign or ASL name unique to their traits, personality, or interests.
Math Lab is a Plus!
· The lab is for high school students who do not qualify for services in the PARC.
· Students may drop in for extra help during their study hall.
· Drop-in hours will be posted by the lab.
· Afterschool hours from 2 until 2:45 p.m.
Art with a Purpose
In collaboration with our new upper school science teacher, Nathan Hutcheson – Mr. Reagan’s Art 3 students are taking on an exciting project. Dr. Hutcheson envisioned works of art for his classroom that featured some of the lesser-known scientists and inventors – people of color and women, including Elizabeth Blackburn, Percy Lavon Julian, and Erich Jarvis, that may not be household names but made great contributions to science and technology. They will create eye-catching visual art that draws the viewer in and makes them want to learn more about the person while being inspired by their ability to overcome racial and gender boundaries.
Closing the Curtain on Stage Fright
This week students in Ms. Gerhardt's drama and chorus classes talked about stage fright – why we feel it and ways to overcome it. Students made drawings – one showing how stage fright looks to them and one showing how overcoming stage fright looks to them.
"As someone who's been performing on stage for nearly my entire life, I've taught myself a lot of different methods to control stage fright and get past it. Often times, I get pretty nervous right before walking on stage to sing a set of songs that I've been practicing for months. During class with Ms. Gerhardt, we learned how meditation before going on stage can greatly reduce your anxiety levels and different breathing patterns can make you feel more in control of your fears," explained junior Kilissa Gasaway.
Coffee with the Admin is an opportunity to stop by the school and enjoy a cup of coffee with Head of School, Dr. Dolan, hear what we have going on and ask questions.
Shop for GWA!
Make Some Fun!
Yearbook portraits will be taken on September 16 (6 - 11th grade) and September 17 (Pre-K3 – 5th Grade). Order forms will go home with your children the week before!
2021 YEARBOOKS ARE ON SALE NOW!
This price is the lowest price you’ll pay - $75! (the price will go up to $85 on September 19!). For easy online ordering, go to yearbookordercenter.com and enter 14485 (or enter school name instead – George Walton Academy). Or you can send in a check with your child - $75 per book and make sure to include your child’s name and grade on the envelope and attn: Liz Jones and/or YEARBOOK. We sold out of books last year. Don’t miss your opportunity to place your order for the 2021 book!
The deadline to purchase a senior page is Oct. 1. Please email Liz Jones at email@example.com for further details.
Last Thursday as I walked down the hall, I couldn’t help but feel a sense of relief knowing that we were where we were supposed to be - at school. It was good to see our students back on campus, and the students with whom I had a conversation seemed just as happy as I was about being back. True, adjusting to wearing a face mask and to our new schedule is a bit of a challenge, but we can pat ourselves on the back as individuals and as a community, because we are doing those things we must do to remain on campus. We are working together, and working together always makes changes seem less difficult.
Change is never easy, especially when it comes from necessity rather than choice, but valuable life lessons are learned from making changes. The most important lesson is that we really can be flexible and adjust to a new norm. Those are two good reasons to appreciate what we are accomplishing together.
Way to go, Bulldogs! Let’s keep up the good work.
Director of School Counseling
Mark Your Calendar!
Watch it livestreamed at GWA.com