Teacher Inspired to Help Trepidatious Middle Schoolers

Mary Hopgood, MEd ’02 was first attracted to the Antioch University New England program because it offered her a chance to get her master’s degree in two years without interrupting her teaching. But what she found were benefits that would go much deeper.

At the time, Mary was concerned that the children who came to her as fifth graders didn’t benefit from the support that a close-knit school community would provide. The children are coming to us from tiny elementary schools with one class per grade, sometimes one class per two grade levels. They’d come with enormous trepidation knowing only a few of the kids who would be their classmates for the next three years.

Mary used her practicum to develop an advisory program to connect the kids with each other, to give them a common purpose, and to create a strong community in the classroom. Mary’s advisory program offers an avenue for discussing topics such as making friends, listening to others, and valuing others’ opinions, even when they differ from your own. The program also reinforces the South Meadow School theme of friendship, respect, cooperation, and caring.

Mary says that “the compassionate community she was seeking for her middle school children was modeled in the Experienced Educators Program. Though we only met one weekend a month as a class, we’d spend time sharing what we experienced since we were last together. We took on a huge challenge and we made it through together.”

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