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Tuesday, February 15 ~ 9:30 am

An absorbing, authentic, and fun program to help students ride a roller-coaster time in their young lives – brought to you by an acclaimed performer and comic genius who started out absolutely hating school.

Bringing the kids to center stage – and giving them voice

Nobody has to tell teachers and principals how hard middle-school students struggle to define themselves and fit in. New freedoms and new expectations, changing bodies, roiled emotions, gossip, dating, painful self-consciousness and nagging insecurities, the sense of being judged and being labeled: it all adds up to a time of confusion and pressure.

And today that pressure can be unrelenting because of social media. These kids are glued to their bright little smartphone and laptop screens, which seem to fill every minute of every day with banter and barbs. The unending stream of commentary too often veers into teasing and even vicious bullying.

There’s no simple formula for helping middle school students navigate this stretch of their lives. But Robert Post, a performer who captivates audiences nationwide with his hilarious one-man variety show, has created a new program that brings middle-school kids and their deeply felt concerns right to center stage. “How to Survive Middle School” starts with an hour-long show that blends fun and entertainment with honest talk about social and emotional issues – and then follows up with lesson plans and activities that teachers can use to help students handle these issues with greater confidence and control.

The real power of this program – and what has most impressed educators familiar with it – is the way it gives voice to the students. Interspersed with Post’s entertaining skits are short videos in which middle-school kids speak candidly about the pressures and worries they face. Teachers speak candidly as well, underscoring how deeply they care about their students. The final video features high-school students looking back and talking about how they “survived” their middle-school years, and reassuring the younger students that they, too, will survive.

For the students in the audience, it’s absolutely absorbing, because it’s authentic. The videos bring into the open, in students’ own words, issues that every middle-school kid can relate to. Those in the audience see that they’re not the only ones worried about things like how smart they seem, whether their friends really care about them, or whether they’re judged by the clothes they wear. They also see that their teachers are there for them, ready to help. Above all, they see that it’s OK to talk about these concerns.

In this way, “How to Survive Middle School” opens up a crucial conversation. And that’s an enormous step, because too often students bottle up their worries and emotions. The follow-up lesson plans and activities keep the conversation going. As a result, students who might feel helpless amid the pressures in their lives instead realize that they can grasp and deal with those issues, and that they can turn to their teachers for support. The program gives teachers a powerful tool to promote social-emotional learning.