First Week of Middle School Focuses on Building Community

As students get back into the rhythm of school, our middle schoolers are engaged in a slightly different schedule this week, focused on building community and rooted in social-emotional learning (SEL). “This week and our advisory program throughout the year are about teaching social and emotional competencies,” says Allie Stine, student programs and community engagement coordinator. Social-emotional learning is, according to the Rutgers Social-Emotional Learning Lab, “the process through which people learn to recognize and manage emotions, care about others, make good decisions, behave ethically and responsibly, and develop positive relationships.” As part of this work, students engaged in a series of team building and group bonding activities. Additionally, the first lesson in each of the students' core subjects is connected to our school's core values of kindness, integrity, and service. As the middle schoolers get into the swing of the year, they will have a foundation for working closely with one another that started in this first week. The Brandeis 2023 strategic plan pillar of community is guiding this work, as we strive to cultivate a community where everyone feels welcome and included and where differences are honored as essential components of our learning community. Adds Ms. Stine, “This is such a crucial time for our middle schoolers to be working on these skills—of self-awareness, self-management, social awareness, relationship skills, and decision making—because it will prepare them for the next stage of their lives, and they are so open to guidance and mentorship at this age.”
The middle school advisory curriculum was funded by the Brandeis Innovation Grant program during the 16–17 school year. This program, now in its fifth year, is made possible by the generosity of a Brandeis family. It provides one-time grants to teachers who are interested in trying new strategies or bringing new experiences to our students. To learn how your family can make an impact at Brandeis by supporting the school with a major gift, contact Director of Development Stacy Youkilis at