Each student is placed on a cooperative Team (see descriptions below), where subject-area teachers are able to collaborate and communicate to provide the best possible educational experience for a select group of students. All our students receive an excellent education, appropriate to their developmental level, no matter which team they are on. All nine of the teams at Mt. Ararat Middle School are equally committed to the common vision of school.
All of our teams are named after local Maine rivers and bodies of water for a reason. Before the start of the 6th grade year, each incoming student is placed on one of four 6th grade teams. The team they are placed on in 6th grade determines the team they will “flow” into their 7th and 8th grade years. Cathance and Magalloway feed into Androscoggin and then into Casco, while Sebasticook and Carrabassett feed into either Merrymeeting or Kennebec, which “loop” every other year. “Looping” means that the student will be on the same team, with the same teachers for both their 7th and 8th great years. “Non-looping” means that they stay with the same group of kids, but get an entirely new set of teachers when going from 7th to 8th grade. The exception to this standard flow is with the small Penobscot Team. Parents and teachers can request placements onto Penobscot after the 6th grade year and they remain on Penobscot for their 7th and 8th grade years.
6th Grade Teams:
Magalloway, Cathance, Sebasticook, and Carrabassett. Located on the first floor, there are four sixth-grade teams comprised of two homeroom teachers each. Each 6th grade team houses approximately 50 students that are shared between the two teachers for the four core content areas: Language Arts, Social Studies, Math and Science. One teacher will teach math and science while the other teacher delivers Language Arts and Social Studies instruction. The two-homeroom structure provides a welcoming and nurturing environment to facilitate a smooth and successful transition to Middle School. Each team builds a strong relationship with the students by starting the year with team-building activities where children get to know their new friends from all over the district. Each team also develops SOP’s (standard operating procedures) to build routines that create shared expectations of behavior. Also part of the sixth-grade culture is developing a Growth Mindset. Students are expected to lean into the discomfort of learning and celebrate mistakes as opportunities for growth. Teachers create wrap-around support in organizational skills, making and keeping friends, time management, and a host of other areas that create a successful sixth-grade year. Most importantly, it is during this transition year that each incoming sixth grader and their family becomes an integral member of the Mt. Ararat Middle School community.
7th Grade Teams:
Androscoggin (Non-Looping). Located on the third floor, this team has approximately 80 students with four core teachers. On Team Androscoggin students experience a core curriculum of math, language arts, science and social studies based on age appropriate standards of achievement. Team teaching is the primary format for instruction and students can expect a balance of individualized, small group, and whole group lessons to ensure accessibility and the highest quality. Students engage in work through project-based learning and are pushed to excel in group and individual products. A goal is to apply learning of literacy and numeracy skills in all classes with particular focus on periodic integrated learning showcases were we welcome the community (including parents) in to showcase student learning. There are several positive behavior supports that reinforce our self-designed Code of Conduct. These include: High-Five Celebrations, learning showcases, the end-of-year celebration, and special events. Students can expect to have a terrific year of academic, social, and personal growth as students live our code of Focus, Respect, and Responsibility.
Kennebec (Looping). Located on the second floor, this team has approximately 80 students with four core teachers. Team Kennebec is a place where students strive to succeed and improve in their academics based on the strong relationships that they form as a community. The students, parents, and teachers come together to pave the educational path for the students. They are a looping team, and that means that they foster the same students through two grade level years of curriculum. They begin with us in 7th grade and continue with us into 8th grade. Students get to feel safe and adjusted in the two years they get to spend on this team. There is a student to student, and a student to teacher bond that is formed which is not easily replicated in a traditional one-year class grouping. Students have many opportunities to learn how they learn best, and they get to do it with enthusiastic teachers who embrace independent thinking. Here in Kennebec, they pride ourselves in making the community the foundation of our growth in learning, socialization, community building, and personal improvement. It is a place that welcomes all, and in return, students move on to high school as responsible and independent thinkers, who truly live the idea of having a “growth mindset” outlook on life.
Grade 7/8 Team
Penobscot (Mixed Grade & Looping). Located on the second floor of the building, near the junction of the two main hallways, Penobscot is a small two-teacher team with approximately 40 students in both 7th and 8th grades. Parents and teachers can request placements onto Penobscot at the end of the 6th grade year. Students rotate between classes within the house, as they would in any other environment, except that they receive all of their science, math, social studies, and language arts instruction from just two teachers. They provide all levels of math instruction for both grades including high school geometry. Through advisory activities, practices, and large student-driven projects they try to help students to think critically, look for deeper meanings, emphasize the use of evidence to prove their arguments, and encourage students to become autonomous learners. They use a workshop model in every class: Teachers present the students with a short, focused, “mini lesson” which is followed by independent work time. Students use this independent work time to work on standards at a pace that is most appropriate for them, while also learning to manage their time and priorities. Because they are a looping team, students begin with us in 7th grade and continue with us into 8th grade, developing strong bonds with each-other and the teachers.
8th Grade Teams
Casco (Non-Looping). Located up on the third floor you will find the Casco team, with approximately 80 students with four core teachers. On team Casco they provide a traditionally structured environment where all students use their individual skills, ideas and strengths to build on their new learning. Students are readily challenged to excel in their learning, often with independent project choice. Each day the students are presented with consistent expectations, but with the flexibility to be themselves, participate in celebrations of learning, become friends with new people, and support one another through the rough times and the good times. They do a wide variety of community outreach activities, including events such as decorating pumpkins for local nursing homes, writing Valentine’s Day cards to send to Veterans or having community speakers share about their experiences in the world. Over the course of the year they develop a great sense of camaraderie, where all students feel supported, safe and successful.
Merrymeeting (Looping). Located on the second floor, this team has approximately 80 students with four core teachers. Merrymeeting is one of the “looping” teams. Students stay with the same teachers from 7th to 8th grade (the teachers “loop” up with them). This allows the students, and their families, to get to know the teachers, the expectations and procedures at the start of the 7th grade year and continue that relationship through both years. The teachers are able to work with the students on a two year curriculum; at the beginning of 8th grade, the teachers already know the students’ individual strengths and needs, and at which level the students are progressing. At least three times a year students complete an integrated unit of study in Language Arts and Social Studies. Students are assigned to two numeracy and two literacy Target Times a week, during which their individual needs in the areas of Math and Literacy can be addressed. Merrymeeting Team has a “Merrymeeting Council”, a council of students who work with the teachers to reinforce protocols, trouble shoot student, team and/or school wide issues, fundraise and lead their peers in a positive way. Council members respond to student needs and concerns, acting as a liaison between teachers and students, allowing for student voice.