Garrison Forest empowers students to realize their full potential and live lives of purpose.

Garrison Forest School

Middle School

Getting to know all of our Sixth, Seventh, and Eighth Grade students first as people is at the heart of what we do. This is the avenue that allows us to challenge, teach, coach, mentor, guide, advise and inspire each of our charges to help them learn and discover who they are, what they are passionate about, what they stand for and who they will become. Our program is intentionally designed to offer a breadth of curricular choices both inside and outside of the classroom.

An Upper School student once said it best: "I am thankful to Garrison Forest for letting me be a writer, then a runner, and a scientist all in the same day." I invite you to visit our school to experience first-hand the wonders of a Garrison Forest education for your daughter and to learn how she can be empowered to realize her full potential and live a life of purpose.

Sincerely,

Shannon Schmidt
Head of Middle School

Our Program

PROGRAMMATIC HIGHLIGHTS

  • Advisory program connects each girl to a caring faculty advisor and provides a "safe space" for girls to get support, encouragement, and feedback
  • Upper School Academic Mentoring program matches Upper School Students with Middle School students for tutoring and homework help
  • 1:1 computer program ensures more access and personalization of resources to aid in learning
  • Media production studio with iMac computers for student work in filmmaking and editing, graphic design, and coding
  • Grade level commons rooms for class meetings, informal gathering, and downtime
  • Weekly Morning Meetings and Community Time allows for all grades to convene for special presentations, demonstrations of learning from classes and community-wide bonding activities that are both student and teacher initiated
  • Interscholastic sports program including Cross Country, Field Hockey, Soccer, Basketball, Tennis, Squash, Lacrosse, Softball,Equitation, and Polo; there is a no-cuts policy for all Middle School athletic teams
  • Additional offerings in Chorus (no auditions/cuts, all grades), Select Voice Ensemble (7th and 8th Grade auditions) and Select Dance Group (7th and 8th Grade auditions) allow for additional artistic pursuits
  • Annual musical production offers experience in both musical theater and technical theater
  • Middle School Robotics team participates in regional competitions (all grades)
  • Extensive leadership opportunities for students in Forum, the student government, to help promote division-wide activities, service learning, school spirit and improve the student experience
  • Middle School Model United Nations group develops public speaking skills and global awareness
  • LEED-certified GREEN Middle School building fully able to support all wired and wireless devices

Program of Studies at a Glance

ACADEMIC STRENGTHS

  • Exploratory curriculum with a focus on core academic disciplines (Math, English, Science, History)
  • Relevant 21st century skills focusing on critical thinking, collaboration, curiosity, communication, and self-directedness
  • Interdisciplinary signature projects in each grade give way to cross-curricular connections such as the 6th Grade Teen Activism Project, 7th Grade Project Innovate! and 8th Grade Shakespeare Study
  • Maker-Space in Middle School fully equipped with laser cutters, 3D printing and appropriate software and tools
  • Full visual and performing arts classes for all Middle School grades (art, music, theatre, dance)
  • Digital Thinking classes focusing on building media and technology fluency in all grades
  • Grade Eight Elective offerings such as journalism, business, coding and guitar
  • Mini-Mester session that allows for student choice in exploring hands on workshops for 1 week (see here for details; link to MM page on website)
  • Full-time Academic Resource Coordinator to work to challenge all students of all abilities in all disciplines
  • Full-time Middle School Counselor teaches decision-making classes in each grade to help support social/emotional growth
  • Immersion-based world language offerings in Spanish and French
  • Latin in Grades Seven and Eight

CURRICULUM GUIDE

ACADEMIC RESOURCE CENTER

The Academic Resource Center works with both teachers and students to optimize the individual learning experience by providing the following supports and programs:

  • Coordination of individual accommodations for students with educational testing: The Academic Resource Coordinator analyzes educational testing reports and writes up formal accommodations plans, which are then shared with her teachers and parents. The ARC coordinator facilitates the implementation of classroom recommendations including: extended time, note buddies, preferential seating, technological aides, and others.
  • Teacher support for differentiated instruction for support and enrichment: Through regular conversations and professional development programs, the ARC offers teachers techniques for differentiating in the classroom according to individual learning profiles. The school is committed to helping each student maximize her potential, and the ARC assists classroom teachers working with students who are ready to tackle additional challenge as well as those whose who need greater support.
  • Study Hall with our Academic Resource Coordinator for all sixth graders provides support for the transition to middle school, including organization, time management and advocacy skills.
  • An ARC Study Hall (Supported Study Hall) and weekly Help Sessions for identified students to assist with assignments and organization.
  • An ECHOES Class for seventh and eighth grade students who have formal educational testing that includes a language waiver. This class meets twice per cycle and provides small group and individualized academic support based on students’ testing and teacher feedback. Topics may include time management, organization, effective reading and note-taking, the writing process, study habits, memory techniques, test and exam preparation, and stress reduction. Part of the class period is also usually devoted to accomplishing homework or review.
  • Individual academic support on a scheduled or ad hoc basis for students who are experiencing challenges in meeting their academic goals: Students may be referred for ARC help by their advisor or teacher, or may set up appointments or drop by for assistance on their own initiative.
  • Academic Mentor program: A peer tutoring program is also run out of the ARC. Middle School students may sign up for an Upper School Academic Mentor who can provide subject-specific academic reinforcement or homework help.

ADVISORY

The first expectation of any institution and community is consideration for one’s fellow beings. All other rules must follow from that. Advisory thus becomes the first building block that will support and enable the rest of our work. Advisory is not a period, it is a relationship!

Our advisory program is intended to be the structure through which we ensure each student has one adult (at least!) at school that is an expert on them and who they can confide in. Below is a list of the different facets of the advisor role:

A watching eye: Advisors keep a watching eye on their advisees and learn to know when to reach out to an advisee in need. It is important that advisors be proactive in approaching their advisees when something seems wrong or out of character as most teenagers do not reach out for help when they need it most. Similarly, it is important that advisors notice and celebrate advisees’ successes.

Shed light: Be an advocate. Advisors can shed light on situations concerning their advisees and help faculty understand the full picture that each of their advisees is facing. It is crucial that advisors be advocates for their advisees during faculty meetings and any other activity involving their advisees. Advisors understand their advisees’ lives better than anyone else in the school and can lead us on how to best educate and support them.

A liaison with parents: Advisors are the main point of contact for parents with the school. They are the vehicle through which parents are informed of their daughter’s progress and objectives and the first person a parent calls if they have a question or concern. This link with parents creates the space for school and parents to become a team in raising each child – it takes a village!

A record keeper: Advisors keep a record of all important information that is collected during the year for each of their advisees. Grades, communication with parents, and notes from conversations with or about an advisee will help the advisor write his/her fourth quarter advisee letter and will be an important source of information for the advisor that inherits that advisee next year!

STUDENT COUNSELING SUPPORT

A Middle School Counselor is available to all students for support with social-emotional issues, general health and wellness issues, and personal growth strategies. The counselor meets students as needed in private sessions and/or in groups. The counselor is available for consultation with parents, and provides resources/referrals as needed. In addition, she provides ongoing parent education/forums for discussion of Middle School issues. Whenever possible, the counselor's conversations with students remain confidential, although students frequently give permission for the counselor to speak to parents.

LIFE POSITIVE 6

This Sixth Grade course provides an opportunity for students to gather information about a variety of issues related to personal growth. Emphasis is placed on teaching students new skills in communication, problem solving and relationship building. Factual information about physical development and drug and alcohol use is shared at the appropriate level. Students have the opportunity to present topics for discussion.

DISCOVERIES 7

In this Seventh Grade Life Skills class, the main focus of the first semester is health and wellness. The studies include discussion about nutrition, substance use and abuse, and general health. A unit of study about career opportunities is also included. The Human Development segment of the course is designed to provide Seventh Grade students with an opportunity to explore issues such as sexuality, relationships, and child development. Students are encouraged to share their own feelings, while learning to negotiate the environment around them. Factual information is presented with opportunity for discussion, in-class activities, special projects and guest speakers.

CROSSROADS 8

This course is designed to provide Eighth Grade students an opportunity to explore their personal values, as well as consider the values and ethics, which have been shared with them by their parents, teachers, and other significant persons in their lives. In our multicultural community, there are a variety of religious, ethnic and racial backgrounds. This course allows students to find common ground, while at the same time respecting differences. This course encourages communication between students. It also offers many possibilities for students to discuss ethics and values with parents.

STUDENT FORUM

Students in 6th, 7th and 8th Grade are eligible to apply or run for a position in Forum, the Middle School student government. Forum gives students the opportunity to develop leadership abilities and encourages active participation in and responsibility for school life. Forum meets regularly throughout the year with the Dean of Students. Forum members introduce the suggestions of their classmates to the Forum for discussion. Forum aims to place students in the forefront of planning for division-wide events, grade level activities, service learning opportunities and to work together across grade levels to improve the student experience at the Middle School.

When you walk into our Garrison Forest Middle School building, there is a buzz that you can hear, see, and feel. Learning takes place in the classrooms, auditorium, breakout spaces, and hallways. Students are meeting with teachers and other students. Questions are being asked, answers are being articulated, and true listening is taking place. The culture of learning, community and togetherness embodies so much of the Garrison Spirit.

Contact

We welcome your inquiries and visit. Join us for a Prospective Parent Visiting Day or schedule a tour and visit at your convenience.


Shannon Schmidt 
Head of Middle School
(410) 559-3286
shannonschmidt@gfs.org