Grades 4-8 FAQ

Q: How is the New School different from a typical public school?
A:In keeping with our mission, we seek to provide a respectful, stimulating environment with small classes where students succeed academically, discover the joy of learning, and experience the rewards of participating in a community. Our small classes enable teachers to work closely with students, either one-on-one or in small groups, and to craft courses and assignments that engage multiple learning styles and foster student ownership.

Q: What is your average class size?
A: Most classes range from eight to twelve students.

Q: Do students switch classes?
A: Yes, students travel to separate classes throughout the day.

Q: Do you have "block scheduling?"
A: In general, no. However, a few classes, such as elementary foreign language, art, music and drama, meet two or three days a week.

Q: Do students have electives?
A: Aside from junior high foreign language, students proceed through a set curriculum in grades 4-8. However, many classes give students considerable choice about how to answer questions, what topics to choose, and what kinds of projects to do.

Q: How do you assess student progress?
A: We use multiple forms of assessment, but we tend to emphasize products (such as final writing pieces or presentations) over tests

Q: Do you have mixed-grade classes, and if so, how do you structure your classes to meet everyone’s needs?
A: Elementary classes and some junior high classes include students of different grade levels. Given our small classes, teachers are able to differentiate instruction in a variety of ways, including working with individuals and small groups, designing assignments and projects that are appropriate for multiple skills levels, or by providing separate readings or other materials.

Q: How much homework is there?
A: We tell students they should never have more than about an hour and a half of homework per night.

Q: How is the Lower School connected to the High School?
A: In many ways! We share the same educational philosophy and many of the same teachers. In addition, Lower School students participate in many all-school clubs and extracurricular activities.

Q: Do students have homerooms?
A: Junior High students report to their first class of the day, but elementary students report first to a homeroom teacher, who is also their advisor. All students check in with their faculty advisors during Essential Time (our afternoon break). The advisor is responsible for the student’s overall school life, including monitoring academic progress, helping with organization, and helping with the end-of-year portfolio.

Q: What is the social environment like?
A: The New School is a safe and friendly place where everyone gets to know each other. Over time, students become more comfortable being themselves and are able to “re-imagine themselves” as learners and contributing members of the community.

Q: What is the application process?
A: The first step is to schedule a tour and interview with Mary Meurisse Richardson for grades 4-6 or with Alan Villarreal for grades 7-8. If the school seems like a good fit, please download and complete the application or pick up a packet at the main office. We also require two letters of recommendation, transcripts, and recent testing records. Once the application is complete, the office will contact you to schedule a one- or two-day student visit. During the visit, the student will be given a partner and will follow that person’s schedule throughout the day. This will give the student a sense of what the New School is like. After the visit, we normally contact you with an admissions decision within one to two weeks.