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CAJ Insights: Approach to Learning in Middle School

Middle school is an interesting place. To give you a bit of a feel what it is like, let me introduce you to a fictitious middle school student named Ineke.  Ineke just started attending Christian Academy in Japan (CAJ) in August, 2017. When Ineke and her parents came to CAJ for the first time, she liked the feel she had when she walked onto campus. The people she met as she walked in were friendly and helpful.

Ineke became aware of CAJ’s mission statement, “Equipping students to serve Japan and the world for Christ” when she walked down the hallway by the Academic office. She also saw what are called the student objectives: Responsible Learners, Discerning Thinkers, Productive Collaborators, Effective Communicators and Faithful Caretakers.  Some of these were difficult for Ineke to understand, but there were descriptions of what CAJ expects from their students.

On Ineke’s first day of school, there were so many new things she experienced. In class, many of her fellow classmates were helpful when she had to practice opening her lock to her locker, signing on to her email and Google Classroom. This was all very new for her. She also found out that the students in middle school are responsible for taking care of school’s property, such as the Chromebook assigned to them. They explained that each person is created in God’s image and we have to respect God, each other and the world around us. Ineke’s homeroom will be responsible for taking care of cleaning up the cafeteria at lunch for a week in December. Ineke decided that in order to help those who are wiping down the tables, she would make sure she cleans her table each day before heading out to the playground after lunch.

What really piqued Ineke’s curiosity was the Wall of Honor. There were all those colorful handprints up on the wall. In the third week of school, for homeroom, students were required to go to the auditorium and there were a few things explained to all the middle school students. One topic was Wall of Honor! Ineke found out that there are twelve different traits related to Wall of Honor and that students and teachers can nominate any middle school student for a Wall of Honor. The twelve traits are collaboration, courage, diligence, encouragement, humility, integrity, joyfulness, kindness, leadership, perseverance, service and witnessing. Scripts would be written by teachers and four times a year there would be a ceremony celebrating students who are nominated by putting handprints up on the wall.

This is only Ineke’s experiences from her first few weeks attending CAJ’s middle school. There are so many service experiences to come this year, such as homeless outreach, raising funds to support the middle school Compassion children and having exchanges with schools in our neighborhood.

Being a part of CAJ’s middle school enables her to grow as a student, not only academically, but spiritually and mentally as well. We try to do all this by Reaching Up and Reaching Out. Isaiah 12:4b “Give praise to the Lord, proclaim his name; make known among the nations what he has done, and proclaim that his name is exalted.”

About the Author

Winnie Langelaar is the middle school principal at CAJ. She also works in the Learning Resource Center at CAJ. Winnie arrived in Japan and CAJ in 2012 as a grade 6 teacher of Bible, math and science and became the middle school principal in 2013. Winnie has taught for over 30 years with experiences in different countries, teaching in grades Kindergarten through high school. Outside of school, watching hockey, bicycling and watching movies as well as spending time with friends are her loves.  

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