Middle School Philosophy
Middle School students often experience significant emotional, physical and intellectual changes. The Hammond Middle School Program seeks to strengthen and expand students’ academic skills while helping them develop strategies to embrace these physiological changes. The philosophical separation of the Middle School into two levels allows for differing approaches inside this division. The 5th and 6th grades operate as a thoughtful intermediate step between a nurturing elementary experience and the structured, departmental approach of 7th and 8th grades.
The 5th and 6th Grades
At Hammond, we believe the 5th and 6th grade years should serve as a developmentally appropriate bridge between directed methods of instruction to more deliberate critical thinking skills required of higher grade levels. Our 5th grade students continue their study of Latin and Spanish, and our teachers reinforce the concept that reading and writing are interdependent skills.
Sixth grade students focus on subject specific class work. They concentrate on core academics, exploring math, science, English, history, and foreign language. In this grade level, we encourage students’ intellectual curiosity by engaging them in course materials, interacting with the environment that surrounds them, and guiding them toward asking the right questions and thinking for themselves.
The 7th & 8th Grades
We purposefully divide the 7th and 8th grades from the lower grades to emphasize our shift in focus to pre-college prep. These grades offer our students their first opportunity to earn high school credit. We offer a vigorous curriculum with an emphasis on our writing programs. Writing is a critical life skill, necessary for success in our Upper School, college, graduate school, and the real world. We introduce our 7th graders to the “junior high school” model as they continue their emphasis on core academic courses, and we stress the importance of clear logic and precise thinking.
Eighth graders are the “seniors” of middle school, and we mark that transition with a formal Step-Up ceremony in the spring. In this grade, we challenge students to do complex and sophisticated work. That’s why we offer 8th graders the opportunity to earn high school credits in science, language, and math and a half-credit in government.
Here at Hammond, we believe that the right learning environment is essential to academic success – one in which they push themselves beyond what they thought they were capable of. Students will stretch their minds and abilities only as far as they are asked to. With our experiential education approach, we ask them to stretch their imaginations beyond the walls of the classroom.
Experiential education is exactly what it sounds like: learning by doing; hands on experience in real life settings. For example, our students:
- Participate in a week-long “Early Technology” curriculum in the 5th grade to learn about primitive technologies and how they have impacted current ones
- Take a trip to Williamsburg, Virginia in 5th grade not only to study history, but to live it and walk the same paths as our country’s founders.
- In 6th grade travel to Tybee Island, Georgia where they test their science skills, studying astronomy and marsh ecology
- Go to North Carolina in 7th grade to study the environment and hone their reflective writing skills
- Travel to Washington, D.C. in 8th grade to see firsthand our government at work and to delve deeper into history
- Begin instruction in cross-curricular activities such as visual art, music, drama, physical education, and technology
Hammond students immerse themselves in the learning experience and we help them do that by providing the best available teachers. Renowned natural scientist, and the school’s naturalist-in-residence, Tom Manke uses the campus’s 77 acres of wetlands to teach every student at Hammond about conservation and the environment and gives each of them real world skills that can’t be taught in a classroom or on a computer. We recruit guest experts to teach 5th graders during primitive technology week and professional, working artists guide our art classes.
Hammond—A Place Where It’s Cool to Do Well
The Hammond experience is not your typical middle school affair. Here, our students and faculty have done a great job fading, if not dissolving, stereotypical divisions. At Hammond, you can be an outstanding student, an accomplished athlete, and a talented artist or performer all wrapped into one. The school grounds and classrooms are safe and secure. We offer a nurturing environment where the focus is always on learning.