Stoneleigh-Burnham Middle School

The Middle School program was founded, and continues to be based, on:

  • The School’s mission statement and the focus on international community, respect, authentic best self, and voice.
  • The research-based principles of successful middle schools – culture, curriculum, and leadership – according to the Association of Middle Level Education
  • The core elements of self esteem in girls according to Dr. JoAnn Deak: connectedness, competence, confidence

In this context, we work to support the development of our community members’ whole selves through:

  • The HILL framework of Dr. Gholdy Muhammad
    • Identity development
    • Skill development
    • Intellectuality development (knowledge and critical thinking)
    • Criticality development (identifying and responding to injustice)
  • Focusing on growth in academic, artistic, physical, and social skills.


A student’s day typically includes Humanities (integrating English/Language Arts and History/Social Studies), Math, Science, Language, and Visual and/or Performing Arts. Advisories and MOCA (middle school student government) meet weekly, and we periodically hold Middle School Morning Meetings as well.

All Middle School students participate in the afternoon athletics and after school program of their choice, with time off one afternoon every few weeks to participate in community service. Approximately one-third of our students ride. Boarders have their own evening program on the corridor tailored to their ongoing needs and adaptable to their specific needs in a given evening. Electronic devices are checked in for storage and charging half an hour before bedtime.

Middle Schoolers participate in all-school events like weekly housemeeting, Mountain Day in the fall, and Spearth Day in the spring, as well as the ongoing Bigs/Littles program where they are matched with a Senior, and clubs. They also have their own traditions such as the Eighth Grade Trip to Washington, DC and Founders’ Day.

Dear Families,

Imagine a middle school where screams of joy and hugs begin every term, and vacations bring mixed feelings as we look forward to free time but must go our separate ways. Through classes, arts, athletics, the boarding program, advisories, and class meetings, students here grow close as they create a positive atmosphere for living and learning together.

Imagine a school where the teachers love learning, care about kids, and find ways to help every single student learn to the best of their ability. Students’ questions and ideas fill the air, and may even provide the framework for some of the units being studied. Be it factoring equations, writing and delivering speeches on civil rights, coding, or busting a move in the dance studio, students are busy working and learning together, contributing and discussing each other’s ideas, and pushing themselves beyond what they thought possible.

Imagine a school where both the arts and athletics are an integral part of the program. Students with a wide variety of skills and experience can find themselves challenged and stretched as they work to grow to the next level. Whether or not you’ve ever played an instrument, sung, danced, acted, or worked in a variety of visual media from animation to sculpture, whether you’re a rider or dancer or are into team sports, you’ll find a place here.

In learning about how best to make middle schools work and how best to help young adolescents learn, in imagining the possible, we have built a program which has been described as “amazing,” “better than a dream,” and “just a fun and positive place to be.” See for yourselves. We’d love to welcome you.

Take care,

Bill Ivey
Middle School Dean

We support our students to thoroughly and accurately understand themselves as learners, see learning as a continual process, and develop internal motivation. Accordingly, our system of assessment and evaluation is as follows:

  1. We involve students actively in understanding the goals of each assignment and, where possible, we work to differentiate the target outcomes for each student according to their unique profile, strengths, and needs for growth.
  2.  We provide a great deal of formative assessment as students progress through their work, to help them see strengths and challenges along the way, view learning as a continual process, and in the end produce their best possible work.
  3. We often involve students in self-evaluating their completed work, through rubrics, narrative comments, and/or conversations.
  4. Three times a year at midterm, we share progress reports with families that include individual student comments written for each course. End-of-term progress reports include an overview comment written by the advisor plus athletics and skills comments.

Humanities classes combine English/Language Arts and History/Social Studies skills in integrated units that offer students the chance to better understand the world in which they live, who they are, and what place they hold in the world. Students build skills in reading, writing, research, speaking, presenting, collaborating, and more.

Math: Typically, seventh graders take Pre-Algebra and eighth graders take Algebra 1. However, students may place into a different level depending on their background and math skills.

Science: Our two-year rotating curriculum includes introductions to astronomy, biology, chemistry, and physics, integrating coding into both years.

Language: Seventh graders take Introduction to Language. Eighth graders choose between French and Spanish.

Visual Arts: All seventh graders take Art 7 and all eighth graders take Design and Color. This latter course is a requirement for further electives in the visual arts department.

Performing Arts Courses: All seventh graders take one term each of Dance, Music, and Theatre. These courses are all open to eighth graders as electives, along with other choices which vary year to year.

Performing Groups and Opportunities: All middle schoolers may join Big Band, Chamber, Chorus, and Rock Band. They may also audition for the Middle School Vocal Ensemble which focuses on a cappella singing. Moreover, many Dance, Music, and Theatre courses culminate in performances, middle schoolers may audition for the Winter Play and join the drama club, and the afternoon Dance program regularly participates in shows including the final performance the night before graduation.

Leadership and life skills topics may be offered as a stand-alone course, integrated into Humanities and Science courses, and/or taught through class meetings. Additionally, the School Counselor meets twice a month with each Humanities class to work with students on identity and relationships.

In keeping with the Middle School student-centered academic model, Middle School residential life is intended primarily as an opportunity for students to learn more about themselves in a safe and supported social setting and as a means of building community.

Boarding and day students all have rooms on the corridor, and work together as a group to shape community rules and as roommates to develop roommate contracts. Through weekly hall meetings and individual conversations, supported by houseparents and student residential assistants (RAs), who work in teams, middle school students learn how to live up to their agreements. They also have plenty of opportunities to relax together, have fun, and build relationships.

Evening routine:

  • Dinner (5:30-6:30 p.m.) – At the beginning of the year and until a clear pattern of healthy choices is established, boarding students bring their dinner plates to houseparents to check in. This also provides a chance to talk informally about how their day went and what is going on in their lives.
  • Evening hours (7:30-9:00 p.m.) – Students are in their rooms with doors open, and each student’s planner is checked. Depending on how much homework has been assigned on a given night, and with the expectation of reasonable quiet, students may also socialize or engage in various activities. Students may seek homework support from each other as well as Resident Assistants and houseparents. Phone use is permitted from 8:30-9 p.m. Students turn in phones and iPads at 9 p.m. for storage and charging in a common cabinet. The cabinet will be unlocked the next morning at 7 a.m.
  • Study Hall (7:30-8 p.m.) At some point in the year, typically sometime during fall term, students begin having a common study hall in one or two of the nearby classrooms.
  • In rooms (9:00 p.m.)
  • Lights out (9:30 p.m.)

Weekend routine

  • Morning check-in (9 a.m.-12 p.m. Saturday and Sunday)
  • Activities (Friday-Sunday as scheduled) Typically, the weekend duty teams will schedule activities specific to middle schoolers as well as all-school options. Day students are welcome to join in weekend activities, though in some specific cases (such as mall trips), depending on space available, priority may be given to boarding students.
  • Room inspection (7:00 p.m. Sunday) The dorm, including both boarding and day rooms, is inspected weekly. If a day room needs cleaning, this is typically done under houseparent and/or RA supervision on Wednesdays after Advisory.
  • Hall Meeting (7:30 p.m. Sunday)