Source: Middlebridge School
Promoted by Middlebridge School

Celebrating 15 years of growth at Middlebridge School

This year, Middlebridge School is celebrating its 15th year of excellence. Set in Hazard Castle, a neo-gothic revival landmark built in the 1800s, the college preparatory all-gender boarding and day school for students ages 13 to 18 and postgraduates with learning differences opened in 2008. It offered a brand of education that is highly individualised, promoting academic, social and emotional growth, and fostering a lifelong love of learning.

Since then, it has grown from strength to strength. A quick tour of campus on any day shows daily personalised tutoring, sessions on social and emotional development, the transformation of ideas into action through internships and community service, and the fulfilled faces of young adults who have turned their language-based learning differences into unique strengths to navigate a global community.

At the heart of Middlebridge’s success is its emphasis on social and emotional intelligence — which has been part of its mission from the start. An innovative curriculum empowers students to understand metacognition, or “thinking about thinking”; strengthen working memory, public speaking skills, adaptability, and empathy; and hold candid discussions of mental health to de-stigmatise challenges, universalise human struggle, and transform adversity into strength. These classes take place daily, allowing real-time feedback, role-playing, improvisational theatre, mindfulness and meditation techniques, and reflexive exercises to align with a student’s individual goals and needs.

Their impact is profound. Implemented in a customised manner on a four to six-week basis, the curriculum informs interpersonal skills, builds healthy relationships and nurtures post-secondary transitions. This not only prepares students for college, but gives them the support to move from Middlebridge’s intimate environment to larger college campuses.

Students can sample the latter in Middlebridge’s brand-new Performing Arts and Social Emotional Intelligence Center (PAC). It is an initiative born out of Middlebridge’s keen understanding of what students need to learn best — especially as they emerged from a life-altering pandemic.

Beautiful and transformative, the centre is set to host social and emotional intelligence classes, talent shows, improv performances, professional development opportunities, and community speaking engagements. Children thrive in spaces that let them shine, whether it’s by performing original songs, playing classical cello, or showing off their hip-hop mastery. PAC is that space — signifying yet another example of the school giving students the opportunities to shine while also giving back to the educational community and sharing its faculty and programme expertise.

Where children belong and become

The Middlebridge curriculum aims to provide instruction, opportunities, and support for students with learning differences. This includes developing their academic abilities, intellectual curiosity, and physical and social-emotional development — so that they are eligible for graduation. To achieve this, they must earn 20 credits (20 year-long courses) in core academic areas, such as English/Language Arts, Math, Science, Social Studies, and  Wellness.

Orton-Gillingham-trained tutors offer support every step of the way. In individual coaching sessions, they help students with time management; task management; self-management; study skills and test preparation; writing; and stress management — helping them become the most effective learners they can be relative to their learning profiles, personal strengths, and challenges while bolstering their personal management and executive function skills. Using the most progressive teaching practices, particularly in Structured Literacy theory, tutors provide immediate academic assistance, for example with decoding language; fluency; visualisation and verbalisation; comprehension; and college-level writing readiness.

Internships enhance this learning process further. Here, everyone gets the chance to explore and pursue passions and interests. The Lighthouse Internship programme comprises four integrated components — career awareness, career exploration, self-exploration, and occupational training and skill acquisition.

There are a wide variety of activities that students can partake in with internship partners. Some students even go on to find careers in those fields after graduation. Just ask Max J. Coven, who had four internships in New York before landing a role with NBC News Custom Productions, an e-commerce team for their LIVE productions. He says he was fortunate to work on the TODAY show, spend time on the New York Live show, and attend the Met Gala during his internships. “I am beginning my official career in broadcast soon, and I am applying for on-camera reporting positions nationwide, and additionally Production Assistant positions in New York,” he says.

Other former students have gone on to pursue their passion for photography, another graduated with a bachelor’s in financial management and will move to Florida to work at Ernst & Young in wealth and asset management consulting.

Stories like these explain how Middlebridge was ranked as one of the best ADHD boarding schools by US News & World Report article last year. More importantly, it serves as an inspiration to children with learning differences that graduating from high school is not only possible but highly achievable. That there is a school that meets their needs, celebrates who they are and lets them truly be themselves.

The admissions team reviews up-to-date neuropsychological or educational evaluations, and then proceeds with a Zoom interview, brief testing to assess readiness and fit, and then an in-personal tour or meet and greet. To learn more about how to apply, click here.