The Middle School encourages each girl to develop a sense of her strengths as she learns new material and masters new intellectual, social, emotional and physical skills. Recognizing not only the individual needs of each student but also the fact that those needs change from year to year, the program includes a progression of growing responsibility and independence. As in the Lower School, students in Class V learn English, history and geography with their room teacher, but beginning in Class VI all subjects are taught by the faculty of the different departments. As girls learn to navigate a more complicated academic day, they continue to assume increasing responsibility for their work through supervised study halls and through “floats,” extra help sessions that a teacher may propose but that students learn to seek for themselves if needed.
Girls who are ready for another language in Class V begin French or Spanish, or continue Mandarin, which they began in the Lower School. Those who would still benefit from reinforcement of their English reading and writing may take a series of skills courses throughout the Middle School instead. All students begin Latin in Class VII, and those who no longer need the skills reinforcement may also begin French.
Visual arts, music, dance and drama provide an opportunity for students to express their own perceptions and feelings and to appreciate the artistic expression of others. Physical education challenges and nurtures students, whatever their level of ability, as they refine their motor skills and apply them to sports and dance. A no-cut policy for participation on teams further encourages girls to explore and feel comfortable in varied athletic settings.
Several important disciplines are taught mostly through integration into other courses. Technology—including word processing, spreadsheets, robotics, programming, presentations and audio resources—is incorporated into the curriculum to support and extend learning. In addition, the curriculum of the Library Class in V and VI is integrated into the research programs of other subjects. Public speaking projects form part of the curriculum each year in the Middle School, developing girls’ confidence through the delivery of speeches they have written or memorized. Public Speaking is a critical component of the Middle School program, and we take pride in our students' developing abilities to speak passionately about both academic topics and social issues. Brearley girls are passionate debaters in and outside the classroom and Middle School is a time to unlock the power of the individual voice.
The activity program supplements students’ experience in the classroom and reflects their interests from year to year. Offerings include art electives (photography, ceramics, carpentry), athletic teams and programs, chorus, orchestra, jazz ensemble, drama, dance, a Middle School literary magazine and newspaper, robotics and debate.
During the Brearley Middle School years, we embrace a student's right to ask questions and not always have the answer, to experience the joy of discovery through process and to challenge her own thinking and that of her peers. Middle School should be a time of spontaneity, of joy, of encountering adversity and exploring avenues to overcome it, of mentorship from cherished adults, of forging life-long connections with new and old friends and a time of instilling a deep and unquenchable love of learning. That is our charge in the Brearley Middle Division!
Head of Middle School Student Life