TMA (Ages 12 thru 18)
I long to know what makes me unique. I know God designed me and every person differently and that we all bring something distinct and lovely to the canvas of life – oh wow, I’m starting to talk like one of my teachers. Honestly though, it’s kinda true. We are different from one another and I’ve learned that those differences are really helpful. When we do group projects I appreciate the creativity of one friend, the organization of another and the fast typing skills of Hailey (class of 2023). – honestly where did she learn to type like that? – oh yeah, when we did our summer projects she started to use a typing program and then wrote that novel – anyway I digress. – It comes with all the extra growing I’m doing! When it comes down to it, I have learned that we are different and we excel in different areas and it’s those differences that make our world function.
Speaking of the real world – that’s what I love the most about my school. We aren’t just sitting around reading a bunch of stuff and spitting it back on a test, we are learning about how our world works. We have this pretty cool program called Alamance Connects – Ms. Denise, our Head of School designed the program. It’s where we discuss the needs of humans and how those needs are meet in the community. One semester we talked about shelter and how Alamance County deals with that need. We learned a lot: we went to a summit put on by the county about students who are homeless, we volunteered at the homeless shelter (and really appreciated the kitchen manager who made it so much fun.), we learned from a relator, a home inspector, and we visited the mobil home builders down the road. Other semesters we explored art, defense, food, transportation and civics/economics. Each year during our student council, we decided what need we will explore next.
Our class is set up to have 3 kinds of learning: small group instruction, independent work time, and project based learning. We like to have experts come in and work with us on a project to learn more about a skill. We are working on a marketing project, a design engineer project and an event planning project this year. We still do all the basics: math, language, science, history, and we do well on those tests we have to take in 6th and 9th grade – we are a pretty capable bunch. It’s just that we don’t stress out about tests and comparing ourselves with each other – that’s too much drama. We focus more on doing our best work and challenging ourselves to keep being life-long learners.
We try to be there for one another, being sensitive to what each person needs and what we need as an individual. Being there for one another is important, and we also know that most importantly – God is there for us. He ultimately is the one who knows us best and he leads and guides us when we put him first. Sometimes we think a little bit differently about God than other people in our class, and that is ok. We are all learning and we respect where everyone is on their journey.
Some people ask – “What do you do when you finish TMA (The Middle Academy) Don’t fear – we are still part of the Providence Community, it just looks more like college than high school. Our plan is developed with our parents and teachers. It’s super important that our parents help us in this plan! Parent – we don’t tell you how much we need you during these years and how much we want you to help us figure life out – we have to act all grown – right? But the truth is we really need you a lot. We want you to spend time with us and encourage us to try new things – that is why even during The Middle Academy, one of our enrichment classes and our Friday work is supervised by our parents – that way you are still an active part of the process in a way that is manageable. – Again with the digressing – sorry.
Anyways, we make a plan together that can lead to another year in TMA to hone our skills and get ready for the next step, or to do an internship year with classes on or off campus. In an internship year, we do our core classes more independently and take on a year long internship in an area of interest. The goal is to prep ourselves to go into the Career and College Promise program at our local community college and get our other core subjects through Providence. In that program we can start earning college credits and high school credits at the same time and we choose options of career paths that interest us. Isabel (class of 2019) graduated with her associates degree when she turned 17, and we have others doing the same.
I guess what I like best about TMA is that I feel like I’m moving forward – not just in a holding pattern doing a lot of the same things everyday. I have a plan and I know how to work it – I know how to do hard things and each day I’m figuring out ways to use my unique skills and talents.