by Head of Middle School Dan Lang

As a mission and values-driven organization, Parker holds its mission statement as a bold challenge to all of us as we care for students, create programming, and steward resources to establish the best learning environment possible.

To create and inspire a diverse community of independent thinkers 
whose academic excellence, global perspective, and strength of character 
prepare them to make a meaningful difference in the world.

While many families begin the process of selecting an independent school in search of academic excellence, at Parker we are mindful that academic excellence is the baseline expectation, and that to deliver on our mission we must serve all aspects of our students. Much of our whole child focus is delivered through Middle School Advisory and Life Skills weeks tailored to our grade level themes: Grade 6 – Self-Awareness; Grade 7 – Community Awareness; and Grade 8 – Global Awareness.

In the Middle School we connect to and continue the work of our Lower School and build in a developmentally appropriate way on the Parker Code of Ethics: S.T.R.I.V.E. As an example, in the first week of seventh grade students return from camp and experience an advisory lesson that re-familiarizes them with the S.T.R.I.V.E. values and connects those goals to the Social Emotional Learning framework we use at Parker. Using the “S” in S.T.R.I.V.E. as an example, students are encouraged to reflect on their camp experience and notice the areas where they were practicing the value of “Seek always to do y

our best” at camp. In the academic setting, teachers guide students to use their planners and set goals in an effort to practice the value. 

The “T” in S.T.R.I.V.E. represents the value of “Treat people and property with respect.” A recent Grade 7 advisory lesson focused on this value was titled “Identity: Culture to Self.” The lesson challenges students to explore all aspects of their own identity and to recognize that the full identity of others is often unseen. Based on the work of anthropologist 

Edward T. Hall, students learn to view culture and identity as an iceberg with only a few elements of the whole “above the waterline.” While this is a seventh-grade lesson that embraces the theme of knowing one’s community, it also references the Grade 6 theme of self-awareness and looks forward to the Grade 8 theme of global awareness and students’ Discovery Week trip. As Hall notes in his theory of culture, we cannot truly know a person or a culture based only on what we see “above the water line.” Instead, we must take the time to get to know individuals and interact with them. Only by doing so can we uncover the values and beliefs that underlie the behavior of an individual or more broadly a culture, and then be able to fully “T: treat them with respect.”

Through Advisory, Life Skills Weeks, Discovery Week trips, and regular class time, our character education program is part of all we do here at Parker. These venues allow us to partner with our families in the formation of students who are:

  • Self-Aware
  • Socially-Aware
  • Self-Managing
  • Responsible Decision Makers
  • Relationship Creators and Maintainers

As noted above, academic excellence is the baseline at Parker, and every piece of our additional co-curricular programming ensures that Parker is sending good human beings into the world.

If you would like to know more about what is happening in advisory each week, please note the Advisory Topics in the weekly “Next Week at Middle School.” Here is the most recent edition:

This Week’s Advisory Topics

Advisors work hard to develop curriculum for advisory that is relevant and thought-provoking. In the chart below are topics that will be discussed this week. They can make for great dinner-time conversations with your Middle Schooler. Please contact Christi Cole at [email protected] or your child’s advisor with any questions you may have.

Grade 6

Teamwork/Planning for Ikidarod and Olympics

Grade 7

Empathy: Intent and Impact

Grade 8

Reflection on the Museum of Tolerance/Diversity and Inclusion