PreK – 8 Advantage
Students in a PreKindergarten to Grade 8 school behave differently than students who have been schooled in an elementary (K-5) followed by a separate middle school setting. The older students take on the role of protector and role model. They recognize the importance of demonstrating maturity while they assist in nurturing the youngest students. At the same time, our middle school students enjoy the opportunity to remain children until they are fully prepared for the high school experience. They do not have to establish new reputations upon entering middle school. This is a safe setting where middle schoolers are given the opportunity to become confident, capable, creative, responsible, and respectful young adults.
A PreK-8 setting cultivates an atmosphere of teamwork between parents, faculty and students to achieve academic success while supporting students as they encounter a variety of challenges. Each member of the faculty at Saints Peter and Paul School knows almost everyone in the building, and the middle grade teachers regularly speak with other faculty members regarding a student’s history, learning style, and family dynamic. These relationships develop a support system for families because our teachers care and are dedicated to the success of the individual child. Teachers remain connected to students as they grow from small children into young adults and foster a sense of community that will impact our students for a lifetime.
Saints Peter and Paul School is blessed to have parent involvement at every grade level. Parent involvement is more common in the PreK-8 setting because parents are familiar and comfortable with our school staff and setting. We encourage and enjoy family involvement and our middle school students are accustomed to seeing parents as a part of our school environment. This parent/school relationship is celebrated each year at our Volunteer Breakfast. Even our 8th graders perform original and highly entertaining songs and dances to show their appreciation for parent involvement at Saints Peter and Paul School. This is one of the most beloved and endearing events of the year.
Research done by Cheri Pierson Yecke for the Thomas B. Fordham Institute discussed results from separate studies in Philadelphia, Milwaukee, and Baltimore concerning academic achievements in different school models. All three studies demonstrated quantifiable positive results when comparing the outcomes of students who attended K-8 schools versus the traditional K-5 school followed by 6-8 school environment. Students showed higher academic achievement and significantly higher scores on standardized tests. They also had higher levels of participation in extracurricular activities, demonstrated greater leadership skills, and were less likely to be involved in physical violence, bullying, and other unacceptable behaviors. Finally, K-8 school students were also more likely to be enrolled in selective high school programs and demonstrated a higher GPA in 9th Grade. Her complete work can be read at http://www.edexcellencemedia.net/publications/2005/200509_mayheminthemiddle/2960_MayhemFINAL.pdf
While separate middle school settings have become the norm, it should be noted that the separate middle school model was designed to accommodate demographic pressures. The benefits of a PreK – 8 setting are undeniable and we appreciate the opportunity to educate and support our students as they experience changes and challenges during the middle school years in the nurturing environment at Saints Peter and Paul School.