Ready for middle school
Ready to change the world
Seabury has taken inspiration from Tacoma's historic and beautiful bridges to build our fifth grade program into a bridge between elementary and middle school.
Fifth grade is an important year of transition for students. As they get ready for middle school, they must learn to be more independent, to manage their time and resources effectively, to solve problems in both academic and social situations, to collaborate, and to dig more deeply into their studies.
Challenge and preparation
Seabury’s Bridges program provides fifth graders with academic challenges that are individually designed to meet the needs of each learner, while preparing students for the new freedoms and responsibilities of middle school. With a focus on leadership development, students see community leaders in action and experience what it means to be a leader through service projects and special programs in and out of school.
The community is their classroom
Bridges uses Tacoma and its many resources as a learning lab where students experience first-hand how our community works and what effective leadership looks like. It puts students face-to-face with local leaders from government and social services, as well as scientists, artists and entrepreneurs. The fifth graders meet once a week at Seabury's downtown middle school campus, which becomes a base for their field studies, which have included the Pierce County Elections Center just a few days before Nov. 8, 2016, Tacoma Police headquarters and Tacoma Rescue Mission where they helped sort personal hygiene supplies and handed them out to clients.
The concept of "Systems" is a year-long guide for their explorations of civics, social services, the economics and ecology of Puget Sound – and other systems, including infrastructure, transportation and health care. They develop questions, and work with community liaisons to develop an action plan for a service project. The fifth graders also take part in a complex simulation in which they develop their own governments and interact between countries to ensure each country can develop its economy.
Leadership and independence
As they learn from community leaders, fifth graders get opportunities throughout the year to develop their leadership skills and to become more independent. They run the school store, an enterprise that involves ordering inventory, managing operations and accounting for sales. They mentor younger students throughout the year, and helping with STEAM projects, buddy reading and partnering during other classroom activities. On their days downtown, they eat lunch at the Farmer's Market or other restaurants and must make their own nutrition choices and manage their own money.
Ready to make a difference
Students in the Bridges program head to middle school ready to lead, ready to think, ready to problem solve, ready to learn, and ready to make a difference in the world around them.
In Bridges' pilot year, 2016-17, Seabury's fifth graders have met with a wide variety of community leaders and toured a number of community organizations. They include: