What do people look for in a middle school? Many prioritize academics, their social life, or the school’s community. The IMYC (International Middle Years Curriculum) program at St. Stephen's Middle School focuses on all of those points, through its "Big Idea", push for student individuality, and its sense of community.
Academics wise, it’s superb. All of our core classes are taught by Michael Stambaugh (Mr. S) and Jamie Shick (Ms. Jamie). Two amazing teachers. The core classes are all integrated, through the Big Idea. The Big Idea is a theme all our classes focus around. For example, earlier this year the 8th graders had the theme “relationships”. In science class we learned about the periodic table, and the relationships the elements have with one another. In many other schools, it has the teacher teaching the class upfront, but here, at St. Stephen's, the teacher engages in “active teaching”. Active teaching is different from what other schools do, “passive teaching” (where the teacher just stands at the front and teaches the lesson with minimal student involvement), because it engages the student and integrates them into the lesson. For example, Mr. S, our English and Geography teacher, will question us a lot. This makes it so that we teach ourselves, and learn from ourselves, rather than him just giving us the answers. He will enable the questions through a discussion the class will have with him. Even his body language is engaging - he walks around the class, weaving through the desks, instead of standing behind a pedestal. The whole class is involved in a discussion about the topic. This helps substantially in making classes less boring and a lot more captivating.
Compared to other schools, St. Stephen's has a tiny student base. My middle school class, comprising of 8th graders, is THE only 8th grade middle school class. There is no other. But, this is not a bad thing. Having a smaller amount of students in the learning environment allows the student to develop relations that are a lot more meaningful. We are closer to one another and can be seen as one large family. Like the phrase goes, “quality over quantity," and that's what St. Stephen's has to offer.
The St. Stephen's community is one of a kind. Nowhere else will you get the experience found here, at this school, in Houston, Texas. Nowhere else will you see a high schooler and a student in elementary school having a conversation, together. St. Stephen's finds its community very important. It is a community of acceptance, tolerance, and is a friendly one. St. Stephen's lives on through its community. It is through the administrators and the good hearts of the parents and board that this school can continue to operate.
I have been at St. Stephen's since 2nd grade, and for the past two years I have been in the middle school. I can say, with all my heart, that it is a great middle school. The academics offered there are excellent and engaging. The teachers push us to do our best and help us get there. Socially, my classmates and the community is one I’ll never forget, and it is one that will never forget you.
Jacob Preston, 8th Grade