Occupations are a form of project-based work in which students invest in real work and take authentic responsibility for their environment and community around them.
Learning the science behind the occupation, as well as being responsible for a real-world contribution, is the goal. Structured by students and teachers working in collaboration, this work includes making decisions in a democratic atmosphere. Success or failure of the occupation rests on the students’ contributions, and managerial and leadership opportunities abound as the students improve their skills in teamwork, communication, citizenship, and project development. The businesses or services created through our occupations result in students’ participation in a real-world contribution.
Recent Occupation Offerings
Miners’ Kitchen is the first food blog created and written entirely by middle school students! Our exciting food blogging occupation incorporates baking, food styling, food photography, writing, and social media marketing — and lots of teamwork!
Buildings and Grounds
How many Montessorians does it take to change a light bulb? Three or four. One to hold the ladder, one to change the bulb, and 1 or 2 to contemplate the theory of energy. Students in this occupation assess the physical plant needs in and around the MS building and grounds and learn skills related to maintenance. These skills, among others, include furniture repair, woodworking, landscaping, and masonry. Basically, these students keep our buildings and grounds in good repair and operating efficiently. Along the way, they develop pride on their school environment.
Land & Livestock
Collecting and boxing eggs, clearing gardens and raised beds, checking beehives, chasing chickens, composting, filling bird feeders, planting plants, and starting seeds…these are just a few of the tasks students learn and practice in this occupation. These students aren’t just working one day per week. They sign on to devote time each day to the care of the animals and land around us. It’s a big undertaking but one that has proved to be a successful business here at the MS.
The Pottery Shack is a non-profit, student-run business. Students learn how to create beautiful and intricate pieces through building and wheelwork. These pieces include animals, plates, bowls, platters, decorative pieces, and anything else the students can think up. Our Pottery Shack has three pottery wheels and a kiln to fire our finished pieces. This occupation is offered 2-3 times a year, and profits from it benefit our MS community and programs.
The Cycle Shack occupation takes advantage of the challenging trails at the Middle School. Students have the opportunity to learn to ride bikes on trails and to improve their skills. In addition to riding bikes, the students learn the basics of bicycle safety, routine maintenance, and repair. In addition, to further our community service program here at the MS, we seek unwanted bikes, repair them, and then donate them to families through Interact.
App Design is an exciting occupation that highlights beginning iOS 5 mobile development. IOS 5 is Apple’s mobile operating system, used in their iPhone and iPad devices. Students use Apple’s xCode, a complex and integrated development environment, to code “objective c” and design their applications. Ultimately, students create their own simulated applications and begin their futures as mobile app designers.
The creative arts are a natural extension of the Middle School curriculum. Students this age crave outlets for expression. Our drama program provides a guided journey through the live-theater experience. Each session begins with warm up exercises and movement/memorization games followed by dramatic activities. The actors have many opportunities to interact with each other through dialogue, dramatic readings, and impromptu skits. Ultimately, the students perform a lengthy play for an audience made up of peers and parents.
The Robotics occupation provides challenge and fun as students create and build programmable robots. Students are inspired to imagine and construct robots that see, hear, and move to attack and defend. Over the course of the occupation, students are led through building and programming simple devices and then move on to explore more complex models. As well, they learn to control and drive the models remotely from their computers. The occupation culminates in a battle between robots built and controlled by students as other students cheer them on.
These are not your ordinary stencils! Stencil art has recently hit the mainstream in the U.S. and abroad due to the work of some famous/infamous stencil artists. This is an art form that is accessible to everyone. In this occupation, students design stencils using Photoshop and other design software. They then use their stencils and screen-printing techniques to create their own t-shirts, hats, and other items. Students also learn the history of street art and design their own street art murals and throw-ups.
Jewelry Making (MS Tiffany’s)
After students learn any needed basic skills, they apply them to the creation of different types of jewelry. These skills include beading, crimping, wire turning and weaving as well as metal forming and stamping techniques. Students also take apart old or broken jewelry, “up-cycle” the parts, and create new pieces. This occupation is one of the primary businesses at the MS, and the students’ jewelry is for sale year round.
This very hands-on occupation combines sewing with community service. Students will learn to use a rotary cutter, sew straight seams, and make a quilt sandwich, along with many other skills. The ultimate goal? Twenty (or more!) beautiful quilts to donate to the residents of Springmoor Retirement Community.
This occupation seeks to familiarize students with rhythms and songs from various West African cultures. Students learn how to play traditional West African instruments and beats and apply learned patterns to creating improvisational pieces in addition to playing traditional pieces. They also learn about the historical significance of music and beat patterns in West Africa and collaborate on a number of performances.
This occupation is not for the weak of stomach! As students learn the fundamentals of and apply their creativity to cupcake decoration and design, they also participate in “Cupcake Chopped” activities that require them to create tasty and tantalizing cupcakes using odd combinations of ingredients. The school community benefits when the students apply their cupcake skills to school celebrations and events, including sports banquets and the annual Easter Egg Hunt at the Middle School.