Greater Impact: Helping Freshmen Transition to High School
Partnership between parents and teachers is critical for freshmen to successfully transition to high school. Here are 3 ways we help new students thrive.
BY Hannah Buchholz
Your 8th-grade student is about to enter high school. It’s a nerve-wracking time for them, full of questions: Will people like me? What should I wear? What classes should I take? Will I make the team? But we know you, parents, feel the anxiety, too.
Although we can’t help your student pick out their first-day-of-school outfit, we want to give parents peace of mind. We know high school is more than getting good grades and getting the role they want in the spring musical. Thriving in high school starts with a smooth transition.
From experience, here’s what we know makes the transition to high school smoother:
1) Accessible Teachers
Helping students mature and thrive through their high school years takes a partnership between teachers and parents. Partnership at LuHi often looks like:
- A steady rhythm of communication
- Alignment on core values so what’s shown at home echoes what's taught in the classroom
- Trusted guidance and leadership from teachers
- Alignment of goals so all parties are working towards the same end goals
- Accountability for student expectations
- Repetition of the message of care and love
- Teachable moments handled in a Christ-centered way
LuHi provides strong freshmen teachers that get it. They understand the stumbling blocks brand-new high schoolers encounter. Moreover, they can foster a smooth transition.
The most crucial part of a partnership is a steady rhythm of communication. Here, teachers want to talk, meet, and collaborate with parents to address concerns and create the best learning environment for their students. LuHi teachers are expected to return parent phone calls and emails; it's a customer service oriented policy so you have peace of mind.
2) Doing the Small Things Well
As Mrs. Luplow mentioned in the video, “I think [the teachers] look at the kid and say, this kid has great potential.”
Teachers who take notice of each student adjust, plan, and attend better to the needs of students. Without a level of personalization in the classroom, students don't thrive. Understanding how an individual learns most effectively is a small thing that goes a long way.
Holding students accountable to expectations is an everyday labor of love. People fall short of expectations. We’re all sinners; we get it. The focus of our discipline at LuHi is on future opportunities a student will encounter. We want students to take ownership of the situation, make it right with all involved, and adjust.
Our goal as a community is for students to be impactful members of this community. With emphasis placed on accountability and honesty, we equip students to impact their future communities in a God-pleasing manner.
But what about enrollment growth?
In the audio clip above, Executive Director Dan Gehrke shares that LuHi Administration has a strong pulse on the growing demands that come with enrollment growth. Ensuring families don’t experience over-promising and under-delivering matters.
One example would be keeping classroom sizes at a comfortable average of 25 students instead of 30+, no matter how large enrollment gets. As a parent, you should trust not only the guidance and leadership of teachers in your student’s life but also have confidence in the school's leadership.
3) Freshman Guarantee
Our Freshmen Guarantee exists to give you peace of mind. We put on paper what we expect of our freshmen teachers. The Guarantee includes:
- Proactive check-ins with parents throughout the year, especially when the student is struggling or not reaching their full potential
- Mid-semester comment reports
- Staff time for collaboration on engaging, teaching, and helping freshmen
- Intentional conversation to find their “thing”
- Checking on alignment with our core values
- First, we don’t want parents caught off guard by how their student is performing. Instead, we want parents to be up to date with how their student is doing in and out of the classroom.
- Second, this is a way to allow students to take ownership of their education.
So what will give you peace of mind as your student heads into high school? Trusting they will survive the next four years is an OK goal. But, in all reality, you should expect more; expect thriving, not surviving.
Accessible teachers and consistent school accountability play a large role in student growth. Expect teachers to challenge your student to live up to their potential. And when something slips off course, the high school you choose should offer strong support to help put things back on track.
Originally published in 2018, updated in 2023 for accuracy.
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