O’Maley is Structured to Meet Student Needs
O’Maley Middle School is organized around the unique needs of 6th-8th grade students. From the House team format to the looping of Assistant Principals and Guidance Counselors, the school structure is tailored to build relationships that enhance both academic and social development.
Middle school students are maturing as learners. They are moving from concrete to abstract thinking. They are beginning to take responsibility for their learning, work more independently, and be self-motivated. The team format nurtures this evolving academic maturity by giving students opportunities for growth while maintaining consistent relationships with fellow students and teachers.
Grades are divided into teams called Houses consisting of four or six 23-26 student homerooms. A core-subject teacher (English Language Arts, Math, Science or Social Studies) leads each homeroom. Together these teachers form a teaching team. House team members practice agreed-upon classroom management strategies to give students consistency. The House works closely together, meeting often for planning and to discuss individual student needs. Students within a homeroom form bonds which create a unique group dynamic. Teachers quickly learn how to utilize this dynamic to further learning.
While House teams have their own identities, all students in a grade are taught the same material. Curriculum is consistent across Houses. Regular grade level and subject area meetings are held to keep everyone on the same page. This close cooperation enables teachers to better differentiate and customize lessons.
6th – 8th graders are developing their sense of self, of who they are, and how they fit into their community. Gaining exposure to new people, they are defining what they want in friendships and learning how to resolve conflicts. Nurturing social skills is a crucial piece of middle school education. Assistant Principals and Guidance Counselors play a huge role in directing that leaning.
Each incoming class will have the same Guidance Counselor for all three years at O’Maley. Guidance Counselors move up, or loop, with their students. Looping allows the Guidance Counselors to build strong bonds with students and, in many cases, their parents. They are the go-to people for student and parent issues and concerns. This year’s 6th grade team will be next year’s 7th grade team and the 8th grade team will start fresh next year with the incoming 6th graders. During the 2022-2023 school year, the Assistant Principals have also rotated with the students.
Friendship and its associated ups and downs take up a great deal of middle schoolers’ energy. When things go wrong concentrating on academics can be impossible. Guidance Counselors serve as a refuge, someone who will listen and help. They can provide an outlet to air the situation and give a student the tools they need to process it. Students are encouraged to identify the crux of the issue, reflect meaningfully on it, and come to an appropriate resolution. Then their focus can return to academics.
Middle schoolers are often impulsive and, striving for independence, they can make mistakes. If support is needed beyond what the classroom teacher can provide, counselors and/or assistant principals provide that support. The goal in these circumstances, as always, is student learning. Students are given opportunities to process and repair their missteps, and are assigned meaningful consequences. When appropriate, guidance on making reparations to the community Is provided. The assistant principals, guidance counselors, and classroom teachers work together to resolve challenging situations and, where needed, continue to monitor progress. Everyone with whom students interact strives to create a culture of respect and a climate of consistent high expectations.
Growth is explosive in the middle school years. O’Maley allows administrators, counselors and teachers to truly get to know their students and guide them during this important time.