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Middle School

Laurie Piette

Director of the Middle School
Laurie Piette draws on her extensive expertise in school leadership, teaching, and advisory roles, most recently as Director of Studies at Rodeph Sholom School in New York City, to guide and support Pingry’s Middle School program.

Cultivating and channeling the development of students at this stage of immense growth is a priority at Pingry. Ms. Piette’s deep knowledge of curriculum development and hands-on classroom experiences lend themselves well to overseeing such a rich program of study. From core academics to the arts, physical education to community service, at the end of three years, Middle School students are well equipped for their transition to the Upper School.

Philosophy

Middle School is a time of immense transition and growth. Just as brain and body make dramatic developmental strides, so, too, do students make impressive academic gains. Middle Schoolers naturally begin to yearn for greater independence, while continuing to seek the boundaries that allow them to feel safe and cared for. Our task, as educators, is to provide the structure, challenge, and support they need to grow into happy, healthy, responsible young people who will contribute to their society.

To answer this charge, we challenge the brain, thoughtfully engaging students in a host of academic areas, from health and humanities to mathematics and music. We develop the body through physical activity and interscholastic athletics. And we inspire the spirit, offering guidance as we encourage individual development, and a safety net, should they falter.

This safety net arrives in the form of an advisor, assigned to each student, as well as an advisory group. The advisor serves as a guide, helping the student negotiate both the academic program and the school’s social experiences. Each child is also part of an advisory group that meets formally three times a week in a dedicated advisory period, as well as during a daily Conference Period, a time during which students may work on homework, meet with other academic subject teachers to discuss ongoing and upcoming work, or work on group projects. Integral to Pingry life, Conference Period is a way in which advisors guide the maturation of strong study habits and time management skills.

Middle School Schedule
Middle School Clubs
Curriculum

Our Middle School curriculum serves a dual role: conveying important information while guiding students' critical thinking skills from simple memorization to more thoughtful, independent analysis. Our faculty challenges students to support their opinions with facts and to question the world around them, readying them for success in the Upper School.

Our curriculum supports the liberal arts background that Pingry believes to be an integral part of each student's educational foundation. Students take courses in English, history, science, math, and world languages including Spanish, French, German, Latin, and Mandarin Chinese. Remembering that students are at different stages in their development, our math and world language classes are grouped by student ability. And because our students are on a campus that spans Grade 6 to Form VI (Grade 12), they can be challenged according to their level of readiness. Our Middle School curriculum is appropriately challenging, and for those students demonstrating greater aptitude, we can encourage them to take courses beyond the walls of the Park B. Smith ‘50 Middle School.

In Grade 6 and Form I (Grade 7), all students take drama, art, and performance music, and in music, they may choose from among band, string ensemble, and chorus. Form II students (Grade 8) can select their arts elective for two of the three trimesters. The entire Middle School participates in a four-day activity block that exposes students to a variety of ways to be physically active and part of a team experience. We maintain a “no-cut” policy in Middle School sports, so students have the chance to participate in a team sports experience regardless of their ability level.

At the end of this three-year period, students move on to the adjacent Upper School, armed with the confidence and critical thinking skills needed to realize success in a familiar, yet challenging, environment.

Sample Course Offerings:

  • Computational Thinking & Design: A hands-on, trimester course that exposes students to both the technical and creative aspects of computer science.
  • Robotics: A hands-on experience with designing, building, and programing modern robots that hones critical thinking and problem solving skills.
  • Digital Filmmaking: An introductory course in fundamental filming techniques and the basics of editing on “iMovie” and “Adobe Premier” software that sets students up for communicating in the 21st century through serious art or shared experiences.
  • Percussion Ensemble: Students will play anything they can strike, scrape, or slap. Students get the chance to immerse themselves in and perform many different genres of music, including jazz-fusion, rock, Latin, and classical.
  • Emotional Intelligence/Cultural Competency: Through hands-on activities, discussions, and projects, this course provides opportunities for students to learn and practice a set of skills that will allow students to be able to answer important questions like, “How do I get along with people who are different from me?” and many others!