The Middle School

Developing Passions and shaping hearts

Beginning in the 5th grade, Middle School students at Heathwood Hall engage in a robust academic program where they switch classes, establish a relationship with an academic advisor, and can participate in interscholastic athletics and performing arts.

The Middle School focuses on helping students recognize and develop the academic, emotional, and social skills that are vital to their future endeavors inside and outside of the classroom. A huge part of that development is allowing students more green space to move, opportunities to explore interesting topics that spark passions and make for meaningful, deep experiences that shape the hearts and minds of our young scholars.

Academic challenge is a major priority in the Middle School, but that rigor is kept in proportion with the goal of helping the whole child mature and thrive. Test scores and grade point averages tell only part of a student’s story, and the Heathwood Middle School offers the chance to write the full, rich narrative in an environment of accountability and compassion.

Middle School students are maturing physically and mentally, and the Mindful in the Hall initiative provides guidance so that students can focus on being in the moment, coping with and overcoming the stress that accompanies the radical changes which every middle schooler experiences.

Middle School teachers provide opportunities to expand and sharpen study skills and executive functioning skills in the context of creativity and self-direction. The Clubs offered provide a broad range of experiences so that students can opt for and learn about various activities without the pressure of assessment or an onerous time commitment.

Heathwood’s Middle School follows the Episcopal tradition of loving and respecting every person as being made in the image of God by showing love and support for every child and also by providing the instruction and guidance to help them become the best version of themselves. Students are not thinking machines that need programming or mere data entry; they are living, spiritual beings who can mature into fully rounded and thoroughly-grounded servant leaders.

This nurturing Middle School environment which challenges students academically, stretches them beyond the classroom, and supports their social-emotional development helps each student start to understand the role they play in both shaping their future and in making that future possible.

Curriculum Overview

The Middle School Experience

Recognizing that teachers as well as students need to practice reflection and embrace growth, the Middle School faculty and administration review course offerings annually to assess what classes are most helpful and what teaching methods are most effective in preparing students for future success. That review includes input from students so that the Middle School student body has a say in their instruction. This responsibility for their academic success is in line with Heathwood’s commitment to service leadership, and community service is a required aspect of the Middle School’s curriculum.

The result is accelerated development, not just of academic performance, but of lifelong skills like agency, independence, self-advocacy, executive functioning, reflection, and critical thinking.

Click here for the full Middle School Curriculum Guide

Arts & Athletics

Heathwood believes that education can extend well beyond the walls of the traditional classroom, and recognizes that many students experience significant intellectual and personal growth through their extracurricular pursuits. We also believe Middle School students are ready to embark on, and make the most of, meaningful athletics and arts experiences.

Accordingly, Middle School students can begin interscholastic athletic competition (link is external) as early as 5th grade in select sports and by 6th grade in all 17 sports Heathwood offers. Likewise, beginning in 5th grade, students are eligible to take part in school plays, and to participate in our chorus and band programs.

Mindful in The Hall

A significant body of research suggests that for adolescents, enhanced mindfulness is one of the most productive paths toward both academic success and overall wellbeing. Cultivating mindfulness in students achieves multiple key objectives: it calms the mind, and it enhances self-awareness, emotional intelligence, confidence, and resilience in the face of stress, busyness, and the pressure to perform.

Mindfulness is being truly present in the moment. Mindfulness at school is teaching students specific strategies to focus their minds, to calm their bodies, to acknowledge their feelings and thoughts, and to affect their learning in a positive manner.

Mindfulness supports the integration of separate brain functions: self-management, self-awareness, social awareness, relationships, and responsible decision making. These skills are imperative to successful academics, athletics, and for life goals. All of these important functions are directly enhanced through the practice of mindfulness, which builds and strengthens the synaptic connections that make them possible.

The Mindful in the Hall program involves the following action steps:

  • Weekly instruction and strategies focusing on posture, breath, body awareness
  • Preparing students for learning by teaching executive functioning strategies, time management, time estimation, organizational, and study skills
  • Weekly advisory to develop relationships with students and set goals
  • Literacy Strands in each grade: Digital, Environmental, Health, and Civic
  • Leadership experiences through Columbia Connections
  • Creation of quiet spaces to allow introspection
  • PEAK outdoor programs that are educational, connected to curriculum, and allow for leadership experiences
  • Instill confidence through self-defense instruction, CPR, creating a positive digital footprint, and self-regulation with social media
  • Yoga classes for students, faculty, and parents
  • Professional development for teachers, students, and parents

Click here to learn more about the Middle School Mindfulness program.

Technology

The Middle School has a one-to-one (1:1) iPad program with every student in grades 5 through 8 using an iPad in their classes for assignments, projects, and homework. Students use their iPads for a varied list of activities, including working collaboratively with teachers and classmates on documents and essays, interacting with mathematical equations and graphs, creating movies and presentations, and using the iPads in conjunction with their Logitech Crayon to take notes and highlight e-texts. By bringing iPads into the classroom, every student is given access to the limitless resources of the Internet and can benefit from using these technologies as they learn and grow during these formative years. With these resources -- and guided by their teachers -- our students are learning the content of our curriculum while developing 21st-century skills including critical thinking, creativity, collaboration, and technology literacy.

The Middle School has been a 1:1 iPad school and a Google for Education school for over seven years now. During that time, students and teachers have developed their skills, their curriculum, and their confidence in ways that have allowed the iPad to become a difference-maker for teaching and learning. We have built the infrastructure and invested in the accompanying tools that maximize the iPads' effectiveness in our classrooms. We have covered the technical details, like building reliable wireless networking and giving students and teachers the ability to project their iPads wirelessly in the classroom. We have identified and encouraged the use of "evergreen" apps--apps we can use across all grade levels and classes--so that the students become highly capable with the tools used for note-taking, content creation, student and teacher collaboration, and classroom management. We have provided ongoing professional development for our faculty on how to meaningfully integrate the iPad into their classrooms. We have adopted the Google ecosystem to enable ease of access for content creation and data storage while providing the best platform for collaboration between our students and collaboration between our students and their teachers. And, this year, we provided each student with an advanced stylus, the Logitech Crayon, enabling high-quality handwriting to increase the possibilities for student note-taking and content creation. This ongoing effort to invest in our students and faculty while providing ongoing professional development has allowed our program to mature to a point where we cannot imagine our classrooms without these powerful devices.

The Thought Studio

The Thought StudioThe Thought Studio is Heathwood’s after-school program for Middle and Upper School students. Recognizing that middle school students need a different after-school experience than our younger learners, the Thought Studio was developed to be an age appropriate experience where students can engage their academic work in a structured environment and have a safe place for playing and socializing with their peers.

Click here for more details about the Thought Studio program.

TOTAL Students

762

Middle School Students

229

Student : Teacher Ratio

12:1