The CH-CH Middle School is currently enrolling students and will open its doors for 8th-grade students in the fall of 2023 and then for both 7th and 8th-grade students in the fall of 2024. Leading the charge for this new addition as the Head of Middle School is Kelly Walsh. Kelly has held the role of Director of 9/10th grade programs at CH-CH for the past six years and is passionate about creating a program that will unlock the potential of middle school students. The Chronicle Magazine (CM) sat down to talk with Kelly (KW) about her background and plans for CH-CH Middle School and the impact it will have on the community as a whole.
CH-CH Head of Middle School, Kelly Walsh
CM: When did you realize you wanted to work in education?
KW: Coming from a long family line of educators, education was a constant topic of conversation around our house. After graduating from the University of Pennsylvania, I was given an opportunity to be a teaching fellow at the Gilman School in Baltimore and to work with one of my former Middle School teachers. I absolutely fell in love with the work and discovered that middle school students are underestimated.
CM: How are Middle School students underestimated?
KW: At that age, they are right in the “sweet spot” for education and experience, and they are capable of so much more than people think. They are old enough to take on responsibilities, with their own specific likes and dislikes, yet they are open to exploring and learning more about themselves and about the world around them. With the right guidance, from caring adults and trusted adults, they can do a lot.
CM: When did you discover a need for CH-CH Middle School?
KW: As the Director of 9/10th Grade Programs, I’ve had the opportunity to work with students coming to our 9th grade from a variety of schools. Some come to us from a positive middle school experience while others have had a profoundly negative experience. I’ve found that in elementary school, most students have trusted adults, and then in middle school, they are often thrown into a bigger school and expected to figure it out on their own. By designing
a middle school program from the ground up, we’ll be able to ensure they are building the skills and confidence they’ll need in 9th grade, without feeling overwhelmed.
Kelly Walsh outside the Commons, the home for the new CH-CH Middle School
CM: What do you look forward to most in working with Middle School students?
KW: I’m looking forward to the energy and controlled chaos that comes with middle schoolers. I can’t wait to hear their energetic voices as they move in and out of the spaces. It will also be great having parents in and out of the building, allowing students to show off their work.
CM: How will the Middle School impact the entire community?
KW: For our current upper school students, the addition of a middle school is going to bring new energy and experiences. I’m excited for our mentor program, where upperclassmen will be trained and matched up with middle school students. This will give them real leadership experience, while welcoming and supporting the middle school students at the same time. The middle school students will also take part in some of our all-school co-curriculars such as sports and theater productions.
CM: What are some of your interests outside of school?
KW: I love volunteering at Cradles to Crayons, whose mission is to provide children from cradle to age twelve with everyday essentials including clothes, books, arts & crafts and toys. I know on the academic side, the impact of something as simple as being able to read a book before you go to bed each night can make a difference for a child. I’m looking forward to making community work an integral part of our middle school experience.