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Middlebridge School: Where students become confident, passionate, and engaged adults

Tired, stressed, bored — in a nationwide survey of US high school students, that’s the top answers they gave when Yale researchers asked them how they typically feel at school. Nearly 75% of their self-reported feelings were negative. In another study, researchers found that when two high performers with similar technical skills and knowledge were assessed, it’s one’s emotional intelligence that sets them apart in nearly 90% of cases.

Such data informs how Middlebridge School (MBS) approaches this critical factor that sets star performers apart from the rest of the pack. Dedicated to fostering academic and emotional growth among its diverse student body, MBS is a college preparatory coeducational boarding and day school for students ages 13 to 18 with learning differences. At its historic, Hogwarts-esque Hazard Castle, located in Southern Rhode Island in the oceanside town of Narragansett, international and local students alike embark on a journey of self-discovery, facilitated by a curriculum that celebrates individualism on an idyllic 38-acre campus.

Classrooms at MBS are language-based, multisensory environments accommodating five to seven students who share similar learning profiles. Here, every student has the opportunity to collaborate with their teachers, explore content, share ideas, and enhance their skills. This approach encourages active participation and nurtures a sense of belonging among the students — an ideal setting for its innovative Emotional Intelligence curriculum.

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Students actively engage in learning and exploring their interests at Hazard Castle. Source: Middlebridge School

According to Harvard psychologist and researcher Daniel Goleman, emotional intelligence comprises four domains: self-awareness, self-management, awareness, and relationship management. At MBS, students learn all these and more. Through daily classes, students expand their potential for emotional development, delve into psychology and emotional intelligence, practise mindfulness, cultivate a growth mindset, and build resilience.

These classes prioritise teaching students in metacognition — a “superpower” skill to use the right cognitive tools when approaching learning tasks, problem-solving, evaluating outcomes, and adjusting strategies as necessary. Students would incorporate mindfulness techniques as well, enabling them to engage in “thinking about thinking.” This approach helps young learners have an optimistic outlook on their future trajectory, thereby enhancing their motivation levels and confidence in the pursuit of their interests and passions.

As a result, more than 90% of MBS students strengthen their working memory, public speaking abilities, and essential life skills such as adaptability and empathy. Notably, this holistic approach enhances academic performance and fosters meaningful teacher-student relationships, forming a thriving community built on trust and mutual respect.

MBS doesn’t stop there. The school has set up a new Performing Arts and Emotional Intelligence Centre that will serve as a hub for their daily Emotional Intelligence classes, and a nurturing space for students to pursue their passions in dance, performance, public speaking, and dramatic arts.

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At Middlebridge School, every student becomes an effective learner. Source: Middlebridge School

With a close-knit community of about 75 students and 75 staff, MBS gets to ensure individualised care and attention for each student. Alongside regular classes, students benefit from personalised one-on-one tutoring sessions tailored to their unique learning profiles, strengths, and challenges. For example, the Orton-Gillingham-trained tutors assist students in various areas such as time management, task management, self-management, study skills, test preparation, writing, and stress management.

Pair the Emotional Intelligence course with this, and students are ready to take on the forward-thinking Internships programme and the Bridge programme, which prepares students for the transition to college, independent living, and employment. With over 50 local internship partners, the school provides students with the opportunity to explore their passions and interests right from the start. Max J. Coven, a member of the class of 2019, is a perfect example of this philosophy as he sets out to pursue his dream of becoming an entertainment anchor or field reporter.

“I worked on the Today Show where I was fortunate enough to work on the Plaza, attend the Met Gala, be on the red carpet, and go to Peloton Studios for a mental health shoot,” he shares. “I have spent time with New York Live, where I worked directly with anchor Sara Gore and her team. I am beginning my official career in broadcasting soon and am applying for on-camera reporting positions nationwide.”

Coven’s story is just one example of how MBS goes above and beyond to ensure students are well-prepared for their future endeavours. Alongside college courses, internships, and resume-building activities, MBS encourages seniors to earn college credit from local organisations instead of relying solely on AP courses. Students also benefit from various after-school and weekend programmes, as well as over 250 enrichment electives tailored to their interests.

Thus it comes as little surprise that MBS was named one of the best boarding schools for ADHD students by US News last year. Many students with learning differences struggle to find a suitable educational path that embraces their identities and meets their needs. But at MBS, they find a supportive, inclusive and inspiring atmosphere where they can truly be themselves. They belong and become the best version of themselves.

Click here to learn more about Middlebridge School.