Middle School Announces New Programs and Initiatives

Head of Middle School, Mark Shelley, joined SA on July 1, 2023, although he'd been working closely with administrators leading up to his first official day. Last week he shared a letter with Middle School families to announce four new programs and initiatives that will be implemented with the start of the 2023-24 academic year. His letter is below. 
Dear Sewickley Academy Community,

I hope that you are finding myriad opportunities for personal edification, genuine relaxation, and meaningful time with loved ones.  Indeed, for our students and teachers, summer can and should be a restorative and joyful season that will soon give way to the quick rhythm and percolating excitement of a new school year.  

I am excited to be joining you this year as the new Head of Middle School and am looking forward to getting to know you, your families, and your children.  As I begin my 28th year in education, I am grateful for the wide range of experiences I have enjoyed thus far both in and beyond the classroom as a teacher, coach, curriculum supervisor, principal, and executive director of academics.  I bring to you a wealth of experiences and an eagerness to continue to grow in such a supportive and forward thinking community, and I am equally excited that our two youngest children will be students here starting in the fall – Ruby in Grade 5 and Lillian in Kindergarten.

I am particularly excited to share information about four new programs and initiatives that will commence with the start of the new school year:

  1. In addition to engaging in trimester long computer science and health courses, students will also take a new “Next Gen” course designed to provide foundational knowledge and skills that are necessary for young citizens to navigate the next-generation workplace environment.  
    • As our newest members of the Middle School, our Grade 6 students  will learn impactful techniques to enhance their academic performance and organization in a new course that focuses on study skills.  
    • In Grade 7, the “Next Gen” course will focus on information literacy and scientific research skills – all culminating with a science fair to be held on campus.  
    • Finally, our Grade 8 students will engage in a capstone project in which they will create a public relations campaign pitch website, and the entire Middle School student body will vote on the winning proposal.
  2. A supplemental ELA lab will provide targeted instruction and support to identified students.  This year-long course will focus extensively on a variety of key skills – from word etymology to critical reading to effective writing.  Aiding our students to further develop these skills will afford our English teachers the ability to “raise the bar” for all students in our core academic classes. 
  3. During our Middle School community time block, we will increase the amount of advisory time, offer skills labs four of every eight days, gather once each cycle as a community, and afford students the opportunity to enjoy a variety of clubs.  Students involved in leadership clubs will now have the opportunity to participate in an additional club.
  4. Our students will work directly with their advisors twice per PANTHERS cycle building relationships, improving skills, and strengthening their social and emotional well-being.  We will be supplementing the curriculum provided by The Social Institute, a nationally-known organization that provides programs and lessons centered on students’ health, happiness, and future success.  

We are confident that these new initiatives will encourage our students to become their best selves, to grow through rigorous academic challenges, and to realize gains leading to success in the Senior School and beyond.  As I continue to prepare for our Panthers to return to campus, I am eager to meet and partner with each of you as we begin the exciting journey of a new school year.


Mark Shelley
Head of Middle School