Private Middle School
Welcome to Abington Friends Middle School in Jenkintown, PA! Our learning environment is filled with joy, exploration, and intention. We view Middle School not only as the transition from Lower to Upper School but as a unique and important destination. During Middle School, students develop from concrete to abstract thinkers, experience social growth through their relationships with peers and adults in the community, and learn how to use success and failure alike to become stronger and to better understand themselves.
“When I first visited, I noticed how students were able to stand and speak about their work and ideas in a totally confident way. I was amazed.”
As students move through Middle School at Abington Friends they assume more responsibility, learn to take risks, tackle academic challenges, engage with the world and are guided toward more independence in learning. Immersed in a variety of learning environments from classroom to stage to athletic fields to recess play, our students seize the rich opportunities every day presents during this exciting time of growing intellects and identities.
We focus on core Quaker beliefs of community, integrity, stewardship, equality, service and peace both in the classroom and beyond. Celebrating “the light” in each of our students, we strive to support them in discovering their authentic talents, cooperating with each other and seeking new challenges.
Our goal is for students to grow into mindful learners and peers who use reflection to deepen their understanding of their ideas about the world and their place in it. Our students leave Middle School equipped with the academic skills they will need for their Upper School journey, but also with the ability to bring about change within and outside of the AFS community.
The best way to learn about our Middle School program is to come for a visit and tour. We look forward to welcoming you to campus.
Middle School Director
We consider the whole 5th grade year as a steady transition to Middle School and increased independence. This includes daily freedoms such as students having their own lockers, as well as access to broader programs such as our performing arts and athletics programs.
Our focus for our younger Middle School students is to help them learn to organize themselves physically, to develop and deepen their critical thinking and writing skills, and to set developmentally appropriate expectations of social and academic growth as they begin their shift from being more concrete thinkers as beginning 5th graders to thinking more abstractly as the year continues, all while creating a caring and supportive environment.
As we get to know students, we push them according to their strengths and vulnerabilities. Individual teachers use a variety of techniques as well as programmatic structures provided through curricula like Math In Focus to challenge and support each student as needed. Because there are many new expectations, we assess 5th grade students regularly throughout the year, but we do not report their growth through cumulative grades on trimester reports until 6th grade.
A unique feature of our Middle School program at AFS is the significant overlap between the 5th and 6th-grade teaching teams. We do this intentionally to support the confidence and growth of returning students and to give students who are new in sixth-grade access to the team of teachers focused on helping younger students transition to Middle School.
In 6th grade, students continue their growth as independent learners and build their analytical reading, writing, and communication skills. As is developmentally appropriate, this is also the first year that we offer separate math courses. For some students another year to fully strengthen the arithmetic skills needed for all other math courses is beneficial. Other students who have shown deep mastery of those skills move into a course designed to prepare them to study Algebra I in 7th grade. As is true in the rest of our math courses throughout Middle School, all courses are either at or above grade level.
Seventh grade is an entry point for many students in the Middle School. For this reason, we spend the beginning of the year reviewing and strengthening skills. In addition to the writing and analysis they will do in other classes, some students will take opportunities to explore Spanish at one of two levels–one aimed at students who are beginning or just starting to master basics, and another meant for students with more experience and comfort with the basics. Similarly, multiple math courses are offered, each aimed at best strengthening students’ skills and confidence based on the progress they demonstrated in their previous math courses, as well as other points of assessment.
In 7th grade, students become more independent in their own understanding of their strengths and the areas where they need support, and they learn to advocate for themselves and seek out resources in the community. As 7th graders become more willing to take risks, our job in Middle School is to encourage their burgeoning interests and enthusiasms while guiding them to make good choices and decisions and to learn from their mistakes.
As the oldest students in the Middle School, 8th graders assume a place of leadership, modeling expectations of student and community culture for their younger peers. Though they enter 8th grade at different levels of independent learning, our expectation is that by the end of the year, all 8th graders will demonstrate independence around reading, writing, analysis, problem solving and self-advocacy, setting them up for success in Upper School.
Eighth graders also show their leadership through the 5th-8th grade partnership, in which they build relationships with our youngest Middle School students and help them navigate the transition to Middle School and become part of the community.
Through the Eighth Grade Independent Study, students identify a new interest and spend several months learning about and mastering a skill related to that interest with the help of a mentor. Students present their individual projects in a student-led presentation to their families and the Middle School community in the spring.