What Type of School is Right for my Child?

middle school students studying

“What school is right for my child?” It is a common question. I’ve watched friends grapple with this question for years, but never believed it would be a question my husband and I would be asking. We started our version of this discussion when our son was about to enter eighth grade and we realized how much more time he would need before he was ready for high school. We couldn’t create more time, so we needed to consider more options.

It wasn’t an easy decision to look for opportunities outside of the public school system. I work closely with our local public schools through my position at the community college and my husband works for a state university. We are advocates for public education, felt Joseph was receiving a good education through the public schools. Still, we were keenly aware that he needed something different. For a variety of reasons, Arthur Morgan School was the perfect kind of different.

The School that Meets your Child’s Developmental Needs

middle school student working on math sheetDuring the middle school years, children are discovering their boundaries, personality and independence. Research and experience told us the amount of brain sculpting during the middle school years is unparalleled, giving youth a chance to re-invent themselves. Our son seemed stuck in patterns that prevented him from being able to do this. When challenged, he often lacked confidence in his ability to succeed or looked outwardly for a place to assign blame.

The view he had of himself and his place in the world were holding him back. We wanted Joseph to find the strength and confidence to be his own person, rather than to continue to feel like a passenger in his life. We wanted him to be able to choose the direction for his life.

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When we researched Arthur Morgan School, we realized it addressed all of his needs. Our next challenge was to share this information in a way that didn’t bias him. The idea of having our son live anywhere other than home was terrifying for us as parents and we couldn’t imagine how it would feel to him. We were afraid that he would feel like we were sending him away. We didn’t want him to feel that he was doing poorly in his current school situation.

We showed him the video about AMS with very little fanfare and were startled at how quickly and assertively he gave his response. “Can I go? That school looks amazing and I feel like I really need to go there.”

The School that Pushes your Child’s Boundaries

middle school student skateboarding

Arthur Morgan School has given Joseph the ability to see his value. At AMS, community service is built into every aspect of students’ lives. From service trips across the country to community days and chores, the students learn their ability to impact their environment. Although Joseph has always enjoyed helping others, AMS has helped secure this as a part of his personality.  His ability to help others, through listening or getting involved, is a major source of his self-confidence and self-image.

The school’s belief in student leadership means that AMS peers challenge one another regularly. Conversations where Joseph has been asked to explore why he believes something have helped him learn to either defend his views or look at things differently. I have seen him look at difficult issues with a maturity that I don’t expect to find in a fifteen year old.

The School that Promotes Positive Growth

middle schoolers in class

Students address one another on behaviors, self-governing and exploring what it means to be a good community member, peer and co-worker. The atmosphere in which this is done is the key to the change. Peers, rather than parents, are helping students find their best selves.  
The cross-curricular nature of study at AMS, coupled with hands-on experiences Joseph has in internships and on trips has helped him find a way to make sense of the things happening in the world and feel a strong desire to be involved in improving them.
“What is the right school for my child?” For us, it was Arthur Morgan School. Maybe it worked so well because our son chose it. Maybe it was the unique learning environment or the outdoor trips. Maybe it all goes back to the philosophy that the school was built upon. Really, there is nowhere else quite like it. It doesn’t really matter why, it just feels nice knowing we made the right choice for our child.

-by Pamela Judson

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