Academics in the Middle School
Phoenix Country Day Middle School provides students from grades fifth through eighth with a rigorous academic program designed to promote higher-level thinking skills and meet the unique developmental needs of this age group. Through opportunities during academic classes, advisory time, athletic teams, community service, concerts, extracurricular activities, and class trips, students develop a rich sense of themselves, their abilities, and the world.
The Middle School addresses the individual needs of its learners in a variety of ways. First and foremost, the recognition that all students learn differently is a shared fundamental principle. Across content areas, the faculty presents lessons and information in different modalities to incorporate all types of learning styles. Science labs, debates, cooperative groups, lectures, recitations, performances, and guided discoveries are just some of the approaches that are used. Teachers also provide many opportunities for students to receive assistance outside the classroom. Homework help is provided during and after school; review sessions are often provided before tests; “The Nest” (Library/Media Center) is open during and after school to meet technology and research needs; and the School provides a “supervised study” area after school in our Extended Day program.
The Middle School seeks to create positive and productive experiences for every student. Self-contained Grade-level teams provide students with teachers who are entirely focused on one grade level and class. Grade-level teams coordinate student needs, curriculum across departments, scheduling, and plan field trips, speakers, and other class activities.
The Middle School is committed to educating the whole learner. In order to do this, attention must be paid to issues beyond the classroom. Helping students manage academic loads, communicate with teachers, deal with social issues, and learn to prioritize and balance conflicting expectations is supported by the advisors and counseling staff, in addition to classroom teachers. Two counselors teach classes (You and Others) designed to help students learn interpersonal skills, gain self-knowledge, and improve understanding about a number of topics including friendships, Internet safety, substances and human sexuality.
The advisor plays an important role in providing the main communication link from the School to home, following a student’s academic progress, and keeping parents informed. The advisory program stresses character education and community building. Community service projects, ethics discussions, birthday celebrations, and other important activities done in the advisory group create a small family for the student within the larger school. In addition, advisor meetings and the You and Others class provide additional forums beyond the regular classroom where all voices are heard and students feel valued.
Learning to serve the greater good is also vital to our program, and is addressed in advisor groups, the You and Others curriculum, the classroom, and the whole school. History and foreign language classes discuss cultures and realities of distant countries. Literature selections often inspire discussions about prejudice, justice, socioeconomic inequality, and issues of tolerance. Grade levels not only provide service to the community, but also teach why it is important and necessary. One of the main focuses of the student council is to provide leadership opportunities to conduct service for the School community and the larger community.