Grades Six through Eight
Middle school extends the progressive development of the lower school with coursework that emphasizes the joys of the learning process, and is at the same time more content-specific. Such an emphasis provides students with the tools necessary for self-motivated, intellectual achievement. Collaborative work and independence remain constants while students learn to reason with greater abstraction and in greater depth.
In-class projects, homework assignments, and long-term independent research projects require critical thinking, expository writing, and meaningful classroom discussion. In eighth grade, middle school math students learn increasingly complex algebraic formulas. Middle school history students begin to see the complex factors that shape world events and to understand their place in the world by exploring texts, primary sources, and current events and by engaging in project-based instruction, independent research, and lively class discussions. Science classes ask students to combine their knowledge of algebra and the scientific method when solving multifaceted physics problems. Language arts students delve into increasingly more sophisticated novels, learning to read critically. They then synthesize their ideas in cohesive, analytical writing. Students enter upper school ready to encounter rigorous coursework and take responsibility for their intellectual growth. A student’s schedule consists of a traditional academic curriculum, including math, science, English, history, world languages, art, and physical education. In each of these courses, students are expected to master the basic curricular demands, acquire strong study skills, and learn self-discipline.
There is much hands-on work, as well as considerable reading, writing, computing, thinking, analyzing, and creating. The climate in which these courses are taught is demanding of excellence, yet supportive and understanding. Above all, the faculty strives to instill a joy of learning, as well as increasing self-initiative and independence.
Middle school faculty embrace the excitement and uncertainty associated with preadolescence and are experts in the field of middle school education. As such, the faculty is committed to the development of the individual through small classes, a well-articulated advisor system, and a “house” or “team” structure. By offering closeness, a sense of community and frequent student-teacher contact, “teams” are an excellent way to monitor the progress of the constantly changing middle school student. Each student is a member of an academic team that includes his or her four core teachers: English, science, math, and history. Team teachers coordinate their efforts to create a challenging interdisciplinary and holistic curriculum and to work together to best support each student. All team teachers serve as advisors. A four-day team trip early in the year focuses on team-building exercises that create a secure and dynamic environment for all middle school students, while building communities within the team structure.