Pre-K & Kindergarten
The Homestead middle school program embraces the creative power of the adolescent. To support this transitional period into adulthood, the Homestead offers a rich curriculum that centers on understanding oneself and one’s relationship with the world.
The year begins with a two-night, three-day camp out in which students plan and prepare their own meals, set up and break down their campsites, and participate in a rafting trip. A year-long rite of passage program, based on the Hero’s Journey, encourages and celebrates this time of life.
“… above all it is the education of adolescents that is important, because adolescence is the time when the child enters on the state of [adult]hood and becomes a member of society.” – Maria Montessori
The middle school years are a precarious and potentially powerful time, a time of metamorphosis when the individual sheds the identity of childhood and begins the transition into adulthood. The Homestead offers a close and caring environment where teens can focus on the important work of becoming well-rounded and empathetic adults. Close, supportive, peer relationships develop quickly, and students find that they can take off their armor and express who they are in an environment free of bullying and constant status-seeking.
Their days are filled with friendship, collaboration, and meaningful service as we balance classroom time with time spent outdoors. Students also have the opportunity to meet experts who visit our campus, to participate in various field trips, and to mentor the younger students on campus. Our students leave the Homestead with the tools they need to excel academically and socially in high school and beyond. Homestead graduates stand out as community organizers, classroom leaders, and empowered individuals.
Because of the unique ratio of teachers to students, our middle schoolers are given one-on-one nurturing as they develop organizational tools, test-taking strategies, and are taught how to effectively interact with adults and advocate for their interests, goals, and ideas. We place a high level of emphasis on individual development and nurturing the talents of each unique child.
Students are supported in finding multiple avenues for serving their community, both locally and globally. A multi-year business project fosters the creative and entrepreneurial spirit, with the goal of raising funds for a cause of the student’s choice. In permaculture, you might find them planting and tending perennial gardens or designing and building a sustainable geodesic dome structure. Through the inspiration of special guest speakers, trips off campus, and collaborative projects, middle school students have the experience of being effective agents of change in their world.
During these years, a healthy questioning of the status quo arises and, if supported constructively, can lead to a sense of self-worth, competence, and betterment of the world. If thwarted, it can lead to rebelliousness, apathy, and lost opportunity. To support students in this transitional period into adulthood, our middle school program integrates academics and an exploration of the world around us to create an educational experience that fosters purpose, vision, deep creativity, and the acquisition of the necessary skills to implement change.
Across the curriculum areas, students are challenged to apply their hearts, minds, and hands to solving problems they have identified. In the process, they come to know their own personal power and appreciate the abilities of others. Through micro-business, permaculture, and community service, the students create products and implement projects with real-world impact.
Our schedule includes two math tracks using a Common Core-correlated, Singapore Math-based program with an option for Regents Algebra. In addition, we extend the work with hands on materials for solidifying abstract concepts such as integers and algebra. Our science program uses Project-Based Inquiry Science in a two-year rotation of earth science and living environment.
Additional subjects include an exploration of history and social studies using the lens and framework of a two-year Big History course, Hero’s Journey (based on the work of Joseph Campbell), permaculture, music, Spanish, and language arts taught by award-winning author, Kelly Adams (aka K.L. Going.) Students also select electives that match their individual interests.
The sophisticated work we do at Homestead middle school prepares students for advanced placement in high school courses. At this age, we focus on refining students’ ability to express themselves through the fine arts, the written and spoken word, and digital content. Embracing the cognitive development of the adolescent mind, our integrative, collaborative, and project-based curriculum lays the groundwork for 21st Century skills.
Connections across subjects are regularly made and discussed, and whenever possible, subjects are integrated under the theme of a common project or area of study.
Annually, our students oversee a book swap and two clothing swaps, which always have a student-created educational focus on waste reduction. In years past, students have taught about waste-free lunches, reusable water bottles, buying in bulk, and they have even raised funds for solar panels on campus. They care for the campus animals daily, and when goats are born, they take the newborns to each classroom and educate about animal care. Homestead Middle School runs a chapter of the Earth Guardians, a youth-led environmental group.
We offer an elective program that not only develops skills in a particular area, but sets the groundwork for the micro-business project. Each year, students participate in four different electives. Elective offerings have included fiction writing, songwriting, ceramics, printmaking, meditation, sewing, jewelry making, advanced fiber arts, martial arts, screenwriting, fiction writing, nutrition/food preparation, and organic farming. Electives are taught by experts in the field.
Students design a business concept and product(s), create a prototype, track production and material costs in a spreadsheet, price the product based on cost analysis, receive feedback from a panel of retail store owners, refine their product and pricing, and then sell the product to the school community. Students also create a brochure which educates the public on their design and material choice, as well as on the cause they have chosen to support with 70% of their profits. In the last three years, middle schoolers have raised over $10,000 for a variety of local and global not-for-profit organizations ranging from advocacy groups to environmental causes.
The Homestead Middle School offers a Makerspace, including two 3D printers, a laser cutter, a large format photo printer, computers equipped with Adobe Creative Cloud software, and tools for woodworking and circuitry.