DORSET - Unique to Long Trail School is a three-year program involving personal awareness and growth. Called "Middle School Perspectives," this curriculum assists students with self- and cultural awareness as well as with thoughtful decision-making. Facilitators meet for 11 2 to 2 hours each week with students grouped by grade level.

In grade 6, students work on issues which relate to new school transitions. Since these students spend most of their day together, they do team-building and bonding activities. Some units of study address social and emotional growth, character development and technology usage. Discussions relate to responsibility, compassion, tolerance and social media. Incorporated into the lessons, there is time for games and movement as well as field trips.

The seventh grade curriculum addresses "the inside" - self knowledge, group dynamics, self governance - and "the outside" - literally, going outdoors once a week to become comfortable in the woods, to play games, and to develop as a team. During the year, the class focuses on a project that benefits the school, instilling the values of stewardship and social responsibility. A recent gift from this class is the campus treehouse, funded by home-baked bread sales by the same group.

Eighth grade students learn about life transitions through understanding The Hero's Journey and self challenge. They explore how teenagers are perceived and recognized throughout the world. They build skills in dialogue and debate, and invite interaction with other cultures and kinds of people to broaden perspective and encourage introspection. The culminating event is an overnight in the woods in Middletown Springs: students design their own experience, which can range from building a shelter and foraging for food, to setting up a tent and hosting a henna spa.

Melissa Chesnut-Tangerman, who has taught this curriculum since its inception, finds the course to be critical for students in these grades." Although our students receive what can be called 'character education' from all the adults in the building, the Perspectives curriculum formalizes a commitment to supporting the development of the self, both as an individual and as an integral member of a community," she states.

For information about the Middle School at Long Trail School, contact Director of Admissions Courtney Callo at 802-867-5717 x141 or ccallo@longtrailschool.org.