Sending a young adolescent to a boarding middle school can be one of the best decisions a parent can make for their child. Boarding life harnesses the middle schooler’s natural motivation to be social while under of the care of adults who they consider friends and mentors. It allows them to experiment with new habits of work, play and study, free from expectations that have become constrictive. They discover new relationships that allow them to improve their communication and conflict resolution skills.
Being a progressive boarding school, AMS believes in the holistic care of our students. Collectively, we commit to care for ourselves, others and our environment. Our staff works hard to create a safe emotional space that helps each student feel:
- confident being themselves
- safe to explore their identity, and
- inspired to discover their place in society.
As members of our community, students discover their natural talents and individual strengths. They learn to build on these parts of their personality and develop real life skills that they can one day use to make a difference in the world.
Family-style Boarding Houses
Boarding students live in family-style homes with four to five students and two houseparents. Each house is a community of its own, setting rules, planning outings and problem-solving disagreements as they arise. Consensus decision making allows each student to feel like they have a voice in how their home is run. They share meals together, work cooperatively to cook, clean and maintain the home, and play together every evening.
Using family-style houses creates that feeling of family where student feel a sense of belonging and houseparents can be attentive to each student’s physical, emotional, and academic needs.
Being a teenager is hard. Middle schoolers are constantly worrying about who they are, how they fit in with their peers and who they will eventually be. This emotionally chaotic journey is filled with new temptations, unexpected feelings and physical changes. We assign every student a social advisor to guide them through these challenges.
Advisor/advisee groups are comprised of two students and one staff that meet once a week. Groups stay together all year, emphasizing the importance of building lasting connections. Staff advisors provide a mature and sympathetic perspective as they serve as advocates, mentors, trusted companions, and role models. Having this safe and reliable space to talk about their emotions provides students with the message that they are seen and valued.
Middle schoolers crave adult level responsibility. Chores provide valuable opportunities for students to learn the practical life skills of taking care of themselves and their surroundings. When students leave our boarding middle school, they feel self-sufficient and are able to help others who need it. When our community trusts and depends upon our students, it inspires a strong work ethic, self-confidence, and a sense of group responsibility.
Life skills that students learn while at AMS include:
- washing dishes
- doing laundry
- sweeping and mopping
- managing time limits
- working together with a team
Community service is an important component of a progressive boarding school education. By doing community service regularly, our students grow into adults who find joy caring for the people and places around them. They learn to give of themselves to make the world better. Examples of community service include:
- maintaining mountain trails
- conducting roadside cleanup
- planting a garden at a local day program for adults with disabilities
- volunteering with local nonprofit organizations like Habitat for Humanity
As part of educating the whole child, AMS makes our students’ personal growth a priority. In the boarding houses, we provide daily mentorship on personal hygiene, positive sleep habits, nutrition and time management. At school, we offer a personal growth class that covers topics ranging from personal identity to peer relationships to sexual education. Students are able to safely ask embarrassing questions and receive guidance as their bodies are rapidly changing.