My goal is to help each child get what they need to grow, to find joy and success in their work, and to discover and become their best and most authentic selves.
We aim to create engaged, reflective students who are able to work hard, make connections, and find joy and value in their learning.
Packer's Middle School offers a rich, challenging academic program grounded in meaningful content and structured around the development of critical skills. Our goal is to foster students' creativity and curiosity and to help them develop responsibility, self-awareness, empathy, independence, the capacity to work collaboratively, think critically and develop their own voice. Our curriculum introduces students to increasingly nuanced ways of understanding the world and themselves. In 5th and 6th Grade, English and history are taught as an interdisciplinary humanities class. Math and science offer an inquiry-based approach rooted in collaboration, experimentation, and reflection. Students begin the study of world languages and explore our arts offerings, including dance, digital video, theater, visual arts, and chorus or instrumental music. Our computing and design classes offer essential experience in information literacy, creative thinking, and digital citizenship. Our health curriculum engages students in conversations about adolescence, decision-making, and social-emotional well-being.
As younger students develop their voices and grow into adolescents, they take on more responsibility and independence inside and outside of the classroom. Middle School teachers steer the discovery and development of each student, guiding their passions through a wide range of extracurricular opportunities, during and after the school day, including over 20 clubs and organizations, student government, publications, theater productions, and athletic teams.
Students can choose from over two dozen Middle School clubs and affinity groups, from the Justice League Club and Mock Newbery Award Book Club to the Knitting Club and the Tree Hugger Earth Club.
- World Languages
- Computer Science
- Health Education
- Physical Education
Believing that literature is a window to the world and a mirror to humanity, Packer English teachers use literature as a springboard for deep and meaningful reflection about the human experience. Age-appropriate texts are selected with an eye toward racial, ethnic, socioeconomic, and gender diversity, and students are encouraged to make connections between literature and their own lives. The English curriculum seeks to instill in students an appreciation and facility for the written and spoken word. In accordance with Packer’s mission statement, English teachers encourage students to “think deeply” about the world around them, guiding them to become “empathetic, responsible, globally-minded individuals.” A student who has explored the breadth of the Packer English Department curriculum should be an adept reader, a compelling writer, a skilled speaker, and an active listener who is reflective and knowledgeable about the English language’s myriad forms of expression and capacity to inspire.
The History Department believes that the study of history is an ongoing process of interaction between students, traces of the past, and perspectives of scholars, all of which help to contextualize and interpret both the past and themselves in the world today. Our goal is to enable students to practice the historical thinking skills and the habits of mind that will empower them to engage in conversations with the past, to develop evidence-based arguments, and to make connections to the present. We prepare our students for civic engagement with genuine local, national, and global issues, and to value diverse experiences and perspectives. To that end, we emphasize a variety of core reading, writing, researching, and thinking skills and utilize a range of pedagogies to give students opportunities to gain knowledge, practice core competencies, and to take action based on thoughtful, ethical, and empathetic consideration of historical and contemporary issues.
The primary goal of the mathematics program at Packer is for students to think as and to see themselves as mathematicians. Fundamentally, this involves allowing students to generate mathematical ideas through investigative problems that can be collaboratively approached using multiple strategies. Teachers cultivate an appreciation for the beauty, creativity, and power of mathematics and the confidence to engage in its study. To this end, the Math Department helps students develop habits of mind, including critical thinking, perseverance, risk-taking, and problem-solving, that make them not only better mathematicians, but also enhanced thinkers across many disciplines. Along with this conceptual understanding, Packer students attain computational fluency and number sense as they move through the program. This threefold foundation allows them to see the prevalence of mathematics in their lives and provides a lens for understanding and engaging with the world. Ultimately, the Math Department hopes that students will look at mathematics and think not only of answers but also of questions and connections.
The science department promotes a curriculum that is designed to provide the information and skills necessary to understand the discoveries and principles of science in an increasingly scientific and technological society. There are three primary goals of the science program: to promote scientific literacy for all students, to develop critical thinking and inquiry skills that help students understand the basic nature of science, and to teach students how to apply their knowledge to solve scientific problems. What is critical is not the amount of material covered, but rather the conceptual depth of understanding reached. The use of the laboratory is essential to learning science at Packer. Students conduct hands-on investigations as integral components of each unit, with an emphasis on prediction alongside qualitative and quantitative analysis. Writing skills, mathematics, and technology are organically embedded within the laboratory program.
The primary goal of Packer’s World Language Program is to develop student’s confidence in languages, linguistic competence, compassion for cultural understanding, and devotion to the pursuit of learning a language beyond the walls of the school. The World Language faculty believes that languages should be taught in the context of literature, history, and culture with the aim of helping students make personal connections, acquire a foundation of empathy for understanding the diversity of the human experience, and developing a strong sense of the relevance of learning languages. Packer students who have participated in our World Language curriculum will develop advanced grammatical, sociolinguistic, and conversational competency, which will enable them to express dynamic interpersonal communication and acquire sophisticated language skills for their personal and professional development.
Computer Science offers a new lens to view the world, by solving problems, designing solutions, and envisioning the future. Our faculty work to support all members of the Packer community, including leadership, faculty, administrators, students, and families, by embracing computer science and design. We provide support in this effort through knowledge, practices, perspectives and digital tools. Our goal is for students and adults to leverage technology and engage experiences that are relevant, challenging, and personally meaningful. Computer Science plays a vital role in our community thinking deeply, speaking confidently, and acting with purpose and heart.
The Arts Department believes that a fully rounded education must include sustained attention to the Arts, which provide opportunities for students on many levels and in multiple ways. The Arts encourage students to think creatively and to take imaginative leaps in assembling the elements of their art in new unexpected ways. The Arts, especially the Performing Arts, offer opportunities to work collaboratively and in the process to develop empathy. The Arts see risk-taking as a necessary part of the creative process and that mastering challenges underscores the joy of creating. The Arts Department is committed to the belief that artistic expression has the capacity to challenge and push the boundaries of our thinking, to renew and invigorate the spirit of learning, and to inspire a deeper appreciation of oneself, of others and of the world.
In and outside of the classroom, Packer’s Health Education program is designed to meet community needs and prompt critical thinking. First and foremost, the classroom environment is intended to be low-stress, comfortable, and cooperative such that students, of all perspectives, can deeply explore personal values, self-esteem, interdependence, and the impact of personal decisions. Questions of equity, social justice, and diversity are interwoven throughout the scope of the curriculum.
The goal of the Physical Education program is to develop students’ appreciation of and commitment to lifelong personal health and fitness. Through a wide variety of activities, students are encouraged to move with confidence and competence, as they experience, develop and master a range of physical skills. A fun and challenging environment is created, which supports students to take risks and push their comfort zone physically, socially, and emotionally. With an emphasis on respect for self and others, cooperation, resilience and good sportsmanship, it is the aim of the physical education program to support both the physical and academic development of our students.
Building community is a major emphasis of the advisory and extracurricular programs in our Middle School. The unique spirit of our division bursts into an impromptu 300-person sing-along, an intense final round of a geography bee, or a somewhat less intense faculty joke contest. It’s the spirit of students and teachers sharing Chapel Stories. It’s Field Day, when mixed-grade teams led by 8th Graders compete in challenges that are athletic, academic, and just goofy (the famous rubber-chicken toss). At our best, we’re fearless and funny, awkward and ambitious, joyful and engaged, and happy just being together.
Packer students feel connected and inspired because we offer them a wide range of opportunities to explore their interests and participate in the larger community. Every grade engages in service projects throughout the year, identifying the causes and concerns that mean the most to them, and finding ways to get involved. Students select WinterSession courses based on their interests, ranging from meditation, architecture, woodworking, and the stock market. Those studying Spanish and French can choose Spring Break language travel programs. Students can join theatrical productions, musical ensembles, and a long list of clubs, including Model UN, Student Diversity Council, and the Middle School newspaper. Our athletics program introduces intramural and interschool competition, challenging students to stretch themselves while emphasizing teamwork, mutual support, and fun.
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