Miriam has always been about more than academics. The school provides therapies, social skills groups, and individualized learning plans.
But this fall, the high school is making it official: The Miriam Essentials Curriculum will address the whole child, ensuring that when students leave Miriam, they are ready to take on the next step of their journeys.
The four-year curriculum is comprised of five categories: Academics, Life Skills, Health and Wellness, Relationships and Community, and College/Career Readiness. Each grade level team will include three dedicated staff members who will carry out this new curriculum. Students will meet for 30 minutes after advisory each morning, as well as 30 minutes before or after lunch (depending on each student’s schedule), to study the Essentials.
Teachers Donna Higgins and Lori Lipkind serve on the committee developing the curriculum. Lipkind says, “A lot of these things a traditional learner would learn on their own. But here, we’re actively teaching them, giving our students a well-rounded experience.”
For instance, the Life Skills category will cover things such as problem solving, goal setting and risk-taking, as well as maintaining a growth mindset. Academics will include study skills and self-advocacy, and help students define who they are as learners.
Many of these skills have a tendency to fall through the cracks in a more traditional environment. The Miriam Essentials Curriculum will ensure that competencies such as social skills, self-management, nutrition, group work, citizenship and planning for the future remain front and center for all students, woven in with their academic classes.
“The Miriam Essentials curriculum is rooted in our mission to build confidence and a foundation for success for all of our students,” says High School Principal Vicki Thurman. “We understand that our students come to us from a variety of backgrounds and with very different learning needs.”
The curriculum will be a working document, with the flexibility to change as Miriam staff members determine other needs and add new lessons. Lipkind and Higgins say the small, tight-knit environment of Miriam High School has helped the curriculum development process immensely. They not only know their students’ needs, but they are also able to anticipate the needs of their colleagues.
“Our faculty are eager to pilot the curriculum this year and continue to build the curriculum while connecting it to the larger Miriam experience, including our Discovery Days and community connection opportunities,” Thurman says.