Meet Matt Ormiston
While many people find the preteen years challenging – even baffling – Matt Ormiston, Highland’s Middle School Director, is very clear in his belief that the best job in education is working with Middle School students.
“There is no doubt in my mind that there is no better age to teach or work with than Middle School students," Mr. Ormiston said. "That certainly doesn’t mean that it's the easiest age."
Ormiston guides Middle School students through an awkward time
Middle School is often an awkward time as students undergo tremendous physical, social, and emotional changes and struggle to figure out who they are, what they’re good at, how they fit in with their ever-changing peers, and how to relate to the adults around them. Yet, despite all this, or perhaps because of it, this is a great age to work with because you can have such a tremendous impact.
“We are so used to seeing adolescence as a problem. But the more we learn about what really makes this period unique, the more adolescence starts to seem like a highly functional, even adaptive period. It’s exactly what you’d need to do the things you have to do then.” – From the National Geographic article "The Beautiful Brain"
Where else can you work with students who are still excited to learn, not only about the subjects of school but also about themselves and the world around them? Where else can you blend the excitement and wonder of childhood with the ever-developing sense of humor and maturity of young adults?”
Working with Middle School students around the world for 20 years
Mr. Ormiston comes to this conclusion having worked with Middle School students for over 20 years. His Middle School journey began as a teacher in Thailand with the Peace Corps and has taken him to Middle Schools in Kenya, Baltimore, MD and Washington, DC before coming here to Highland in Warrenton in 2008.
In an excerpt from a recent Middle School newsletter to parents, Mr. Ormiston stated "Middle School is the time when our kids begin to make that tough transition from cute, innocent children who want nothing more than to be with their parents to independent young adults who seem to want nothing more than to be left alone to hang out with their friends. It's not always an easy transition, nor a fun one, but it is a journey they must take. Part of what makes me so optimistic about this year is that we have a tremendous faculty ready to support them along the way."
Ormiston has assembled a dedicated faculty
Our Middle School faculty works incredibly hard to find the delicate balance between challenging our students and supporting them. Our faculty challenges students to think for themselves, to take responsibility for their actions (or lack of action), and to figure out who they are and how they fit into our community. We challenge them to do their best work, to acquire the work ethic and perseverance we know they will need to be successful. We challenge them so that they grow into self-sufficient, thoughtful young people who know how to solve problems and who are resilient.
Helping young adolescents find their way
However, we also realize that the changes and challenges students face at this point in their lives are immense. Our Middle School faculty understands how difficult it is to balance friends and family and school and adolescence – all at a time when they really aren’t sure who they are and where they fit in. We understand that they need to question, to argue, to debate, and at times to defy so that they can assert their own independence and find their own voice. Like you, we don’t always enjoy these difficult conversations and moments, but we recognize how central they are in our students’ journeys through adolescence.
• You can reach Matt Ormiston at 540-878-2713 or via email to firstname.lastname@example.org