Male adolescence is associated with lots of things, not all of them positive. The Seattle School for Boys is trying to change that.
The independent microschool serves about 50 students across grades 6-8. It’s the only all-boys middle school in Seattle, and it thrives on support, not punishment.
“Challenging the prevailing norms of masculinity is more important than giving boys a list of all the things they shouldn’t do,” says a quote from author Peter Glick on the school’s website.
Jerome Hunter co-founded the school in 2019. The goal, he says, was “changing how boys are educated.” Toward that end, the school has created an array of options for its students to express their full selves.
The school, whose students are socioeconomically and racially diverse, weaves a social-emotional component throughout everything it does. Each week ends with AAA circles where students can express emotion in a holistic way by sharing an appreciation, an ‘a ha’ moment, an appreciation, or an apology.
Student voice is emphasized, as is civic and community engagement. The Seattle School for Boys aims to hold three community events a year, such as a STEAM Fair where the school sets up a gallery for community members to tour and observe student work. The school also goes into the city by foot and by phone, going to partner organizations to distribute food and hitting the phones to encourage voter participation.
During the pandemic, the school shifted to outdoor-based learning as much as possible so students could learn in-person. As the pandemic entered a new phase earlier this school year, the school moved into a new, larger space, which will support its goal of more than doubling in the coming years to serve 120 students.
So how does Hunter know the school is working?
“Families come back to us and let us know that their child feels seen, heard, and has the confidence and compassion to move through the world with purpose,” he said.