What Makes Mid-Pen Unique?
In anticipation of the transition to a new head of school, we were asked what we don’t want to change about Mid-Peninsula High School. To me, that means defining what it is that makes our school stand out from any other school. Having taught in a few schools before this one, there are a number of qualities we have that differentiate us. After I put together my list (the first five bullet points), I joined three other staff members to put our lists together. Interestingly enough, we all came up with different things, and we all agreed about each of them.
- This is a truly student-centered school. Decisions are made based on what’s best for students, individually and collectively. Other schools often create programs that students should fit into, but I feel that we try to develop programs (curriculum, support staff, opportunities, late start time, etc.) around our students.
- It is largely assumed that teachers know what they are doing professionally. Once a teacher has been hired, their methods aren’t constantly scrutinized. They are supported in their curriculum development, textbook choices, professional development opportunities, grading policies, and classroom practices.
- Students are included in all parts of the school. Whether this means skills level to allow for differentiation in classes, no-cut sports teams, or the encouragement of all students to take part in the arts offered here (visual, music, drama), every student has a chance to participate in every aspect of the school.
- Focus on development is very strong, especially for such a small school. At other schools where I have taught, generally of a similar size, we did not have a single person dedicated to raising money for the school, and as a result, were unable to fund some of the important things that we do fund here.
- Our dedication to true diversity is one of the highlights of the school, and very important to me personally, as well as many of the students that I talk to. We have diversity in race, ethnicity, economic status, disability, and geographic background that is practically unheard of in small private schools. We offer financial aid to a substantial number of students, and that is something that we should be proud of.
- Classroom and curriculum freedom and autonomy
- Ending staff meetings with victories
- Alumni graduation speakers
- Video contest
- Senior dinner, Quaker style
- Major award selection/discussion – only saying nice things about them
- Kindness and acceptance of teachers and students
- Lack of bullying
- Small classes
- Speaking compassionately about individual students
- Interaction w/students outside classrooms
- Individual student support
- Using support staff (Randy, Wendi, Heidi, etc.)
- Safe environment for everyone (students and teachers)
- Benefits for all by having deaf staff member, learning ASL language AND culture
- Keeping open mind for opportunities for staff to learn as well
- Foreign students can integrate via ASL into culture
I think this is a pretty impressive list, and makes me proud to be a part of this community.