Supporting Mental Health in Middle School: Our Students Have What It Takes

Story by Meeting Street Schools / May 25, 2022

I couldn’t have imagined the immense mental health obstacles our middle school students face daily.

They navigate social media with its constant call to compare or bully. They’ve seen school shutdowns and some have known waves of grief. They face the typical challenges accompanying adolescence.

The needs are great, yet our students have what it takes.

As I support students’ mental well-being, I’m learning our students are often the most powerful resource. I’ve seen our students unite and use their voices in ways that uplift the mental health and well-being of all involved.

One instance was on Valentine’s Day – a traditionally “complicated” holiday in middle school. Our 8th grade girls celebrated in unique fashion; they arrived on campus with arms full of treats and transformed the holiday into a “Galentine’s Day” where they drew names and brought goodies for one another. It was beautiful to see our young ladies bolstering eachother’s positive sense of self in this special way. Our students have what it takes.

Once during a restorative circle a student used her voice and leadership to promote wellness for all participants. She listened intently and spoke with wisdom exceeding her years. At the conclusion, all students expressed closure and one 8th grader exclaimed, “I need her to counsel me!” Our students have what it takes.

I’ve seen our students champion mental health as they bring a friend to the counselor’s office, suggest integral interventions for their own education, and even stand up to lead social and emotional classroom activities that build community in their classrooms. Our students have what it takes.

My job is complete when our middle schoolers recognize their power and role in building a healthy mentality in scholars across our school community.

Chelsea Tolbert
By Cara Murray

Cara Murray is a Charleston native and is serving in her 5th year as a School Counselor here at Meeting Street Brentwood. Cara enjoys supporting our 5th through 8th graders with their social and emotional development. Prior to MSB, Cara taught 5th-6th grade in New Orleans and later worked with WINGS for kids, an after-school social and emotional learning program. Outside of school, Cara loves spending time with her family, reading, and enjoying the beautiful scenery around the Lowcountry.

 

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About Meeting Street Schools

Meeting Street Schools (MSS) is an innovative non-profit where schools, families, and the community collaborate to create environments where all children can achieve their full potential. With a network of schools across South Carolina, including MSA-Charleston (Charleston, SC), MSA-Spartanburg (Spartanburg, SC), MS-Brentwood (North Charleston, SC), MS-Burns (North Charleston, SC), and MS-Jasper & Beaufort (Jasper, SC), we are committed to providing students with the rigorous education they deserve.

Founded on the principle that every child deserves an excellent education regardless of their socio-economic background, Meeting Street Schools has been a beacon of hope and a testament to what's possible in education. Our schools are driven by a strong focus on student achievement, evidence-based instruction, and relentless support of our students and their families.

While united by our shared mission, each MSS campus, is unique in its character, tapping into the local spirit of the communities they serve. Explore each of our schools and discover how they're creating a brighter future for students in South Carolina.

News & NotesFrom Clemson University to Master Teacher and Player Coach: Emily Godwin

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Our Schools

MSA – CharlestonDowntown Charleston, SC - Independent School - Since 2008 - 364 Students

Nestled in the heart of Charleston, South Carolina, MSA Charleston is more than just a school—it’s a hub for innovative learning and community engagement. As part of the Meeting Street Schools network, MSA Charleston embodies a commitment to excellence through its rigorous academic programs, inclusive culture, and focus on developing the whole child. With a curriculum that emphasizes both academic and personal growth, MSA Charleston prepares students to be curious learners and active citizens of their community.

MSA – SpartanburgDowntown Spartanburg, SC - Public School - Since 2012 - 323 Students

MSA Spartanburg stands as a pillar of educational innovation in the Spartanburg community. The school’s dedicated educators and supportive learning environment ensure that each child receives a high-quality, personalized education with exceptional faculty and teachers. MSA Spartanburg is distinguished by its emphasis on community partnership, fostering relationships that extend beyond the classroom to build a strong foundation for lifelong learning and success.

MS – BrentwoodNorth Charleston, SC - Public School - Since 2014 - 694 Students

MS Brentwood is a place where education meets opportunity. Serving the Brentwood area, this school is a testament to the transformative power of education. With a student-centered approach that celebrates diversity and encourages excellence, MS Brentwood is dedicated to equipping students with the skills they need to thrive in the 21st century. MS Brentwood also serves as a hub for the Brentwood community to access educational and wellness services. The school’s commitment to innovation, coupled with a warm, welcoming environment, makes it a standout in the MSS network.

MS – BurnsNorth Charleston, SC - Public School - Since 2018 - 478 Students

Located in a community rich with history and culture, MS Burns is renowned for its dynamic educational approach that intertwines traditional learning with modern teaching techniques. The school’s focus on experiential learning ensures that students at MS Burns are not only recipients of knowledge but also active participants in their educational journey. MS Burns exists to spark an educational revolution for the students and families in the Dorchester-Waylyn Neighborhood in North Charleston. With a commitment to creating a supportive and challenging academic environment, MS Burns is forging a new path in public education.

MS – Jasper & BeaufortJasper County, SC - Public Charter School - Fall 2023 -

MS Jasper represents the Meeting Street Schools’ dedication to community-based education with a global perspective. The school provides a nurturing environment where students are encouraged to explore their potential and cultivate a love for learning. With its diverse programs such as Eureka Math, and Wit and Wisdom, MS Jasper puts a major emphasis on character development, specialized learning and equips students to become thoughtful, engaged members of society, reflecting the MSS ethos of empowerment through education.

CommunityVoices

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“Meeting Street Academy is my family. They taught me that I am valuable. I am an asset to the world…They asked me, ‘What is your dream?’ I had never been asked that before. The MSS community gives me the strength to pursue my dreams.”

— Kadelyn SteedStudent

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“MSA is a family. Once you’re in, you’re in. They said they would follow our kids from K-3 to college and they actually lived up to what they said they would do. Not only did MSA challenge my daughter academically but it also exposed her to new things that she probably wouldn’t have been exposed to at our previous neighborhood school. Our journey at MSA was exciting and rewarding. They actually walk the walk.”

— Tyeka GrantParent

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“We come into work everyday truly believing that our students are capable of achieving anything that is put in front of them. Here at MSS, students are provided the opportunity to achieve success through the facilitation of well-educated teachers, resources, and a responsive classroom school environment.”

— NikToshia GilesTeacher