Academics
Middle School

Our Everyday

Block Schedule

The Middle School follows a tumbling block schedule. In the schedule, each class meets four times in a week for different lengths of time. Longer blocks allow for sustained work on labs and projects, and shorter blocks on Mondays allow for meeting on the first day of the week with every class to launch the learning for the week. The classes meet at different times of day throughout the week, allowing students to experience each of their courses at different times of day throughout the week.
 
The Middle and Upper Schools follow a similar weekly schedule enabling faculty to teach in both divisions as well as allowing Middle School students to accelerate, when appropriate, into Upper School courses. With classes meeting four days a week and not every day, the overall homework load is spread throughout the week. The weekly schedule also provides opportunities for the entire Middle School student body, grade levels, and advisory groups to meet each week. Monday Chapel is a time for short, inspirational messages or focus for the week ahead along with announcements. Monday afternoon the grade levels gather with the advisors and deans for Class Meeting. This is a time to shape the student culture of the grade level and discuss in more detail past and upcoming events. Friday activity period is used for many purposes: assemblies, guest speakers, student planned activities, extended advisory time or tutorial.

Leadership

Middle School students are given many opportunities to demonstrate leadership. Opportunities range from formal, elected positions on the Middle School Student Council to student designed and led lunchtime clubs. The culture promotes and encourages student voice and engagement with the school experience.

Service

St. Margaret’s has been moving away from service projects and moving towards service learning. Each grade level has established themes for its service learning focus of the year.
 
The sixth grade theme is “Navigate our environment.” This theme is a focus of grade level class meetings as the team of sixth grade teachers helps our youngest Middle School students understand the logistics and culture of the Middle School. The retreat to Camp Stevens in Julian furthers this focus with its environment of sustainable practices and understanding our role as stewards of the planet. Throughout the year, the sixth grade students will promote recycling efforts on campus and participate in a beach clean-up.
 
The seventh grade theme is “Risk, responsibility, and respect.” As seventh graders work to develop their own identity, this theme provides students with opportunities to enhance their empathy and build the skills of cultural competency. With their focus on equity and hunger, the grade level will work with the local Head Start program, Father Serra’s Pantry food bank and the Incredible Edible Farm.
 
The eighth grade theme is “Respect the past and influence the future.” Students work throughout the year to understand and support our troops and veterans. Work with our local Operation Help a Hero provides tangible experiences to connect with the needs of our current troops. Veterans Day presentations by local veterans and a project to interview a veteran further connect students to the importance of supporting our troops and honoring our veterans. The end of the year class trip to Philadelphia and Washington, DC provide a meaningful capstone experience.

Chapel

The Chapel service is integral to a St. Margaret’s education. Our Episcopal tradition guides that regular participation in communal worship is the key to making individual spirituality blossom. Bringing our expansive diversity of backgrounds from each child into one unified presence in Chapel embraces our differences and creates the habits of prayer, compassion and devotion that are the foundations of worship to all views of a higher power we call God. Students are encouraged to participate in Chapel services in a variety of roles, including acolytes, readers, Eucharistic ministers and speakers. The Middle School attends Chapel services two times a week.

Deans

The structure of leadership in the Middle School provides for two deans at each grade level. These grade-level deans play a large role in the culture and communication for their respective grade levels. They organize and run class meetings, help with the cadence and events of advisory meetings, communicate regularly with teachers and students, and have a recognized and valuable voice with the Middle School Administration. Due to their close relationship with the students and teachers in a given grade level, the deans are an important point of contact for students, parents, and teachers whenever the need might arise. 

Advisory

The overarching goal of the Advisory program in the Middle School is to ensure that every single student is known, cared for, and nurtured in a way that meets the needs of each individual student. The Middle School advisory program provides a comprehensive one-to-one relationship between a teacher (the advisor) and student (the advisee) for communication, direction and personal growth. The groups are structured to include one teacher and 12 to 15 students. In addition to developing the relationship between student and advisor, the advisory group itself quickly begins to serve as each child’s school family. By being part of an advisory group, students have the opportunity to develop relationships outside their friendship groups and to interact with each other and a teacher in a less structured manner than the typical classroom. The advisor has a dual role as both advocate and mentor. The advisor may advocate for the child in student-teacher interactions while at the same time serve as a mentor to help a child reflect meaningfully on personal progress as a student. 

Clubs

The Middle School has multiple teacher and student led clubs which meet during the lunch period. The teacher sponsored Math Club and Junior Classical League clubs provide interested students with further opportunity to engage with math and problem solving, while the Junior Classical League Club offers an opportunity to engage with Latin and Greek and Roman history and culture. Students can also create and lead a club, ranging from academic to service, with the support of a faculty sponsor.

Tutorial

Tutorial is a weekly period designed to allow students to meet with teachers to seek extra help or ask questions on classwork. Sometimes, teachers require students to attend tutorial to make up work, provide further guidance, and to check for content understanding. When students do not need individual time with a teacher, they are able to use tutorial to complete homework, study or work on long-term projects.

Honors Groups

Students interested in pursuing an area of study in more depth can join an Honors Group. These groups meet during the tutorial period every week and the students commit to the group for the year. Current honors groups offerings include: Student Council, Tartan Chorale, Jazz Band, Dance, Robotics and Technology.

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An independent preschool through grade 12 college-preparatory day school in Orange County.
St. Margaret’s Episcopal School
31641 La Novia Avenue
San Juan Capistrano, CA 92675
949.661.0108