8th graders Shamel Lucas and Sebastian Perez know how to wire the interior of a home and wire a security camera. Shamel and Sebastian have also received their OSHA-10 certifications, which is the official certificate of competency issued under the Occupational Safety and Health Act. These valuable skills and certification represent the tremendous success of J-Term at Hyde.
What is J-Term?
This past January, Hyde launched our first ever J-Term. J-Term, short for January Term, are courses done during the month of January, where students are able to immerse themselves into a single subject, often without being confined by school walls. “We wanted to provide the opportunity for students to experience a nontraditional way of learning and explore their potential,” said Dr. Sharilyn Fletcher, the Middle School Dean of Curriculum and Instruction. J-Term is the vision of Middle School Director, Lex Zain, who particularly enjoyed J-Term while studying at Middlebury College.
For his J-Term course, Carlos Rodriguez, the interim Middle School Director, while Ms. Zain was on maternity leave, decided to teach a class called Automobile Care 101. The course was designed to introduce students to basic car maintenance. During classroom time students would watch videos and read manuals of different kinds of cars in order to prepare for the labs. In the outdoor lab, the kids rotated and changed tires, oil, spark plugs, air and cabin filters and fuses and learned how to properly detail a car. The class especially proved to be a transformative experience for 5th grader, Jeremiah Rosario, who discovered that working on cars was his passion. “That turned out to be his love, and that’s unique potential,” said Mr. Rodriguez. “Getting a 4th grader to lift a car onto a jack and then put it on a jack stand? That is a big display of courage,” he said.
J-term and Hyde’s Core Principles
J-Term fits right into Hyde’s focus on the unique potential of a child. “Students had to step out of their comfort zone and engage in new experiences with little to no knowledge of the class they’d signed up for,” Nicholas O’Neal, a middle school special education teacher, said. Students worked on calculating voltage, amps, and watts, learned how to use basic tools, to be safe while using them, and how to wire lights and receptacles. His desire for kids to step out of their comfort zone was ever-apparent when students studied to obtain their OSHA-10 certifications. Sebastian feels that what he learned from Mr. O’Neal will benefit him once he enters the workforce. “The basic things we learned, I feel will help me out and I will remember them forever,” he said.
Importance of J-Term
Rachel Aviles, a 7th grader said she signed up for Hyde Culinary because she wanted to learn how to cook a more diversified range of foods. The class included a lot of field trips as well. Students went to the Culinary Institute of America, D’Arrigo New York, Nebraskaland, Urban Health, and concluded the course with an Iron Chef-style competition at Baldor Specialty Foods.
Skyla Abud, an 8th grader said that a high point for her was the class took a trip to the Culinary Institute of America. She loved watching chefs in training prepare meals. Before J-Term, Skyla was always a little nervous about jumping head-first into something she had never really tried before. “You build your character by getting involved in things you might not do otherwise…I’ll remember a lot of the techniques they taught us on how to cook. They taught us a lot,” she said. Hyde’s Culinary Institue class is an example of how the courses may have been staff created, the majority of them were actually student-led.
Success of J-Term
The staff at Hyde have high expectations for students, and each program obtained its own level of success. From the fundraising to the course development, so many pieces came together to make the program a roaring success. “ I refer to all of [our programs] as having their own magic,” said Dr. Fletcher.
Sherley Frias, an 8th grader said that Girl Rising was an empowering experience. “Hyde is really about integrity, leadership and courage…and I feel like [Girl Rising] brought us together and gave us another opportunity to show courage and brother’s keeper,” Sherley said. Nassogona Cisse, an 8th grader, chose Girls Rising because she wanted to find new ways to resolve issues. The girls explored issues around self-esteem, gender, family dynamics, healthy and abusive relationships, culture, art and dance therapy, and discussed powerful women of color. Nassogona felt like she gained a lot of self-awareness from Girl Rising. “I’m going to try and bond with new people,” she said. Ms. Garcia and Ms. Paulino feel the whole process was a great success. “It was an extremely rewarding process for both the girls and the facilitators and one that I absolutely look forward to repeating,” said Ms. Garcia.
Leah Burton got to see firsthand what life is like on college campuses when the students went on several college tours. Through the tours, Leah honed her skills as a leader. “We had to show leadership by actually having the courage to go up to another school and talk to [the representatives],” she said. Leah learned about how she would go about paying for tuition and what her major should be if she wants to pursue her dreams of becoming an obstetrician. There was also a heavy self-care aspect to the course, as students got to learn different kinds of stress relief, self-regulation, and anxiety relief techniques. “[At Hyde] we are always talking about developing ourselves and our character,” she said, “developing ourselves as a person was a big part of [ J-Term] because we had to open up, we had to talk about ourselves and what we want.”
J-Term exemplifies what Hyde is all about: Destiny, Humility, Conscience, Truth and Brother’s Keeper. Hearing these stories, Mr. Rodriguez said, “That is why J-Term fit. It was a perfect fit.”
Special thank you to the Joseph and Katherine Macari Foundation and many other supporters and partners who helped make this program a huge success!