with the characteristics and needs of the young adolescent at the fore. In contrast to traditional big box middle schools or preparatory pressure cookers, the MSN Middle School is a place where students form connections with peers and caring adult teachers as they begin to form a social identity apart from their parents and home. In this “known” context, young adolescents find it is cool to care…about their work, each other, their school, their community and their world. They develop outstanding academic and extra-curricular habits of mind preparing them for success in any high school environment and beyond. Their presence of self is extraordinary and stems from genuine confidence and a genuine sense of having something to contribute to the group.