Why is Tanana a Middle School?

  • At Tanana Middle School we value relationships, are learner-centered, and empower students to reach their full potential. We are committed to embracing the spirit of the changing adolescent in an environment where the intellectual, emotional, social, and physical needs of this pre-teen group are very different than either high school or elementary students.  In a community where respect for self and others is highly valued, each student is empowered to take responsibility for making good personal and academic choices.  As our students embark upon a search for identity, we strive to personalize learning and nurture the whole child, and we employ the middle school model to accomplish this.  Our teams are smaller communities of learners within a larger school. These smaller communities allow teachers and staff to really get to know their students through discovering who they are, how they learn, their learning styles and preferences, and this helps teachers foster an environment in which students can grow as individuals.  This model allows us to innovate in ways not possible as a junior high.

    Our core “teams” are made up of dedicated teachers who all share the same students.  Each team consists of an English, math, science, and social studies teacher who are all highly qualified in their specific content area.  Our team approach has many advantages, including the opportunity for interdisciplinary unit planning. In contrast to a traditional junior high model where teachers work isolated from each other, our middle school team approach allows teachers to meet the needs of the whole child by collaborating daily during a common planning period. It is during this time that teachers can share observations of styles of learning, student academic performance data, and students’ behavioral data, in order to give the entire team a clearer picture of our learners. Teachers plan units of instruction, share strategies, and brainstorm ways in which they can better help each student achieve success.  This time also affords teachers the opportunity to discuss each child’s strengths, weaknesses, behaviors, and academic and social needs. It allows us to communicate and meet with our parents as a whole team.  This allows parents to learn about their child’s strengths and areas of need and together we work to benefit the child.  Because of our middle school model, the school’s specialists are able to meet with each team as well. This includes guidance counselors, MFLACS, SSM, our psychologist, and our speech and language pathologist. They share their knowledge and expertise with the whole team.  In the isolation of a junior high, teachers would neither get this perspective nor this expertise, as time would not allow for it.  Our approach benefits the entire learning community, thus creating a more comprehensive and positive educational experience for our students. 

    The middle years are also a time of exploration outside of our core subjects.  Tanana’s outstanding Electives teachers offer a rich variety of courses, including Art, Orchestra, Band, Speech & Drama, Exploring STEM, Computer Essentials, Extended Learning, Physical Education, Family Consumer Science, and Health.  These classes are opportunities for our students to enrich their lives by exploring their own talents and learning skills not traditionally taught in core classes.  As part of our school culture, we continuously encourage our students to investigate their own likes and interests, and this often requires a middle school to initiate this process.

    Our strength as a school is in our team approach. Teachers and students work in conjunction with parents and specialists in order to help each child grow to their full potential. 

Last Modified on January 29, 2022