GSMS helps newcomers to middle school “GEAR Up”

By Jessica Vaughn Education Editor
Posted 1/31/22

GULF SHORES — Students leaving elementary school and entering middle school can quickly become overwhelmed with the change. To help make the transition easier and to prepare these students for …

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GSMS helps newcomers to middle school “GEAR Up”

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GULF SHORES — Students leaving elementary school and entering middle school can quickly become overwhelmed with the change. To help make the transition easier and to prepare these students for what's to come, Gulf Shores Middle School has implemented GEAR Up classes for all sixth graders.
"One thing we've been focusing on a lot this year at the middle school is individual student needs," said Principal Kyle McCartney. "A lot of the times, especially when a kid transitions from elementary to middle school, it takes a little bit of adjustment time. We wanted to try to come up with some kind of a plan for those students to make their transition a little bit better."
GEAR Up is an elective class that every sixth grader attends. Their GEAR Up teacher goes over their individual needs and provides them with GSMS 101, to answer questions such as where to find campus facilities. GEAR Up teachers go over various lesson plans while talking to students about their individual wants, needs, and academic life now that they're in middle school.
"One thing when kids come to middle school is they don't always find someone to connect with," McCartney said. "We sort of help them have a person that helps serve them as their advisor."
McCartney said the students will be able to connect with their GEAR Up teachers not only in sixth grade, but as they continue through middle school and into high school. GEAR Up teachers do everything from help students come up with homework schedules, develop plans to bring grades up, and teach students life skills to include organization, study skills, note taking, conflict reasoning and banking.
"These classes give students life skills and mediation or just really planning on how to attack the day," McCartney said. "In elementary school you might have a teacher all day long, and that teacher knows you inside and out. They know your needs, they know your wants, they know everything about you that you need to know, but when you go to middle school, we've got seven periods a day, and each one they have to meet a new teacher. So, we want to make sure they have that person, sort of like that all day teacher, even though it's one hour a day, they have that teacher. They can make that connection with that teacher, and that teacher helps monitor their grades, communicates with their parents, lets their parents know how they're doing, keep them on track throughout the day."
McCartney said the classes were implemented for the 2021-2022 school year, and already the data has shown growth in sixth graders' academics. He said their math and reading skills have improved not only from the last school year, but from the start of the current school year to now.
To learn more about the school, visit www.gsboe.org/gsms.

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