Choices at Greene Street Friends
A new trimester means students have a brand new set of Choices from which to choose. A longstanding part of the Greene Street Friends curriculum, Choices invites students in 5th-8th Grades to select one of a broad range of activities, from chess to outdoor sports. This trimester’s choices include: Lego Robotics, Tech Club, Relaxation Station, Outdoor Sports, Word Games, History Action Club, Running Club, Chess, Sewing, Design Challenge, Grumblethorpe, and Spanish. We sat down with Middle School Dean Kiri Harris to learn more about Choices and why it’s part of the GSFS mission to nurture the whole child.
How Long Have We Offered Choices?
We’ve offered Choices at least as long as I’ve been here, which is 17 years. When I came to GSFS, Choices was going strong and was already an anchor of our curriculum. We’ve kept the same timeframe, mix of 5th-8th Grade students, and focus on a variety of choices (pardon the pun). While these core parts have remained, we’ve also used student input to inform new options and offer 8th Graders the chance to become leaders toward the end of the year.
How Do Students Select Choices?
Students circle the four or five options they’d like to learn more about, but they don’t rank these choices. Then, teachers put students in the different groups. While doing so, the teachers focus on making the groups as diverse as possible.
What’s Been the Most Popular Choice?
Cooking has always been the most popular Choice, followed by outdoor sports. Anything outside is always popular and we’ve intentionally added more variety over the years. We’ve moved away from choosing Choices based on teachers’ passions and toward Choices we hear from students that they would enjoy. Fitness is becoming more popular with our students and that fits into our goal of nurturing the whole child.
Tell Me More About The Whole Child Approach
Promoting the academic, physical, emotional, and social health of our students has always been a commitment of Greene Street Friends. The fitness clubs obviously promote physical health, but then you have options like chess that uses strategy and game theory. Mindfulness, another popular Choice, gives students a practical resource for their toolbox (another thing we talk a lot about here at GSFS) that they can use well after graduating from GSFS. The whole program invites students to connect with their peers more formally than on the playground, but less formally than in the classroom. We also like that each Choice challenges students to stretch and try new things. Risk taking is a big developmental focus here at Greene Street Friends.
Tell Me About Some of This Year’s Choices.
We have great Choices this year! I think I’m most excited about our ongoing relationship with Grumblethorpe, right here in Germantown. Grumblethorpe is a historical house and garden just down Germantown Avenue from the School. We help them with gardening (mulching, weeding, clearing trees, harvesting vegetables) and maintaining the grounds. Former GSFS Science Teacher Andy Jickling is the Volunteer Coordinator and it’s important that we have partnerships with our neighbors. We want Greene Street students to feel connected to Germantown, not just as a place where they come to school.