|Galen Rebecca McNemar Hamann
Middle School Director
At Thayer Academy Middle School, we encourage students to try new and different things, and our schedule and programs are designed with that objective in mind. Our students are involved in all aspects of school life, from academics, athletics, and arts, to community service programs, to our myriad clubs and extracurricular activities. As a result, at this crucial age in their development, our students are able to find passions both within and beyond the classroom.
Like their students, teachers at the Middle School participate fully in the Thayer community. Our teachers’ roles extend beyond the classroom, as they also serve as coaches, advisors, and sponsors of clubs and activities. These multiple roles allow faculty members to know more fully each of our students, and we believe that when students are known, they realize that they are valued. In turn, this feeling of appreciation means that students are more likely to experience and enjoy meaningful success, not only academically, but in other areas of their lives as well.
Thayer Academy Middle School allows students to become confident, well-rounded, and independent learners in a supportive yet challenging environment. Please schedule a visit to the Middle School and see first-hand the energy, the intellectual exploration, and the genuine feeling of community that exists at our school.
Thayer Academy recently unveiled design plans for a reimagined Middle School campus with community and connection as guiding principles. The yearlong construction project will create a two-story building with new classrooms, a new dining hall, a digital media classroom, and increased space for the arts. Middle School students will make use of the former St. Francis of Assisi School during the construction phase, which will begin this summer.
The Thayer Academy Middle School academic program teaches students how to study while also helping them master and then apply the skills and concepts they learn in each discipline. Each grade has a theme, based the school's mission statement, around which some of the grade's academics and other parts of its program are organized. The grade themes are:
- 5th Grade To Be Compassionate
- 6th Grade To Inspire: Nature and Civilization
- 7th Grade To Rise: The Individual and Society
- 8th Grade To Contribute: Citizenship and Leadership
Students meet daily with their advisors. Extra-help periods with academic teachers (time beyond class) are available for individuals or small groups each day. In addition to academics, the program provides a balance of arts, activities, and athletics in the daily schedule, thus promoting the growth and development of the whole student. The community encourages student collaboration, creative thinking, problem solving, leadership, and responsibility as students prepare for the demands of high school and future challenges.
The 5th and 6th grade programs are anchored by the homeroom advisory system. Students are grouped into homerooms of approximately 15 students, each with an advisor who is also the English and social studies teacher for that group. In addition, each homeroom takes foreign language, science, arts, and study skills classes together. In sixth grade the students are sectioned differently for math. Students learn to balance the challenges of their new school and their increased intellectual abilities with an interactive environment and a built-in support system. Learn more about the interdisciplinary approach of the 6th grade program.
New students join the 7th and 8th grade program, enriching student interaction. Academic departmentalization is increased, and students see different teachers for each of their classes. Each student belongs to an advisory group of approximately 7 or 8 students, providing a home base and an advisor's watchful support. An important link between parents and school, advisors help their advisees reach their overall academic and personal potential.
Visit Thayer in the winter months and you'll hear Middle School students reciting speeches, pieces of literature, or poems in preparation for Declamation—a school-wide series of classroom performances culminating in roughly a dozen excellent declaimers (or great public speakers; 3 to 5 from each grade) performing before the entire school.
Middle School Philosophy of Student Independence
In the Middle School, daily assignments are posted on the classroom portal portion of the Thayer website, along with each class's grading policy, major assignments, and class expectations. The reason for posting daily assignments is that, with the goal of helping students become independent learners, we aspire to form a partnership with parents, and posting daily assignments allows parents to take a more active role in their child's education, if they wish to do so. Additionally, if a child is absent or if he or she forgets an assignment, the classroom portal can be a helpful tool.
In general, we aspire to be as responsive to parents as possible, and as a policy, we are prompt in our responses. The first point of contact for a class should always be the class's teacher. The advisor, the school counselor, the academic dean, the dean of students, and the middle school director are also always available to speak with parents.
The Middle School’s Collaborative Design Lab is a creative space where students are challenged to work together to create solutions to different kinds of problems.