There’s Always Room for One More!

After 40 years of excellence in early child­hood education, our expansion welcomed the inaugural primary-grade class in 2012. We currently offer a thriving K-7 grade community; our inaugural 8th grade graduating class will roll out 2017-18.

Marylhurst has defined itself as a progressive school that prides itself in developmentally appropriate practices. To that end, we believe that expansion through eighth grade fills a niche and conveys what we believe to be an inherent truth: childhood continues through eighth grade. The arbitrary separation of the middle years of childhood – 11, 12, and 13 year
olds, offers them no benefits regarding their development. Extensive research has been done to support a K-8 model and, in fact, it supports the development of children. When we looked at themes that define quality middle school programs, it became clear that 6-8th grade at Marylhurst was a natural extension of what our preschool through 5th grade exemplifies. Here are the themes of quality middle school programs:

1. Children are Known: At Marylhurst we exemplify this trait. Our motto – honoring the journey of each child, portrays this philosophy. Children must feel truly known – seen, understood, and observed with curiosity – to feel safe and honored in an educational environment. Children who have positive connections with teachers work toward higher expectations than those who do not. And, there is no factor more important than teachers’ perceptions of students when it comes to academic performance.

2. Effort is Honored: As Carol Dweck (national scholar on education) points out, effort on academics should be placed at a much higher value than outcome. While there is a place for outcome measures (and many options of such), students who perceive that their effort is valued actually take more academic risks and exceed expectations compared to their peers whose outcomes are valued over effort. At Marylhurst, the middle school model provides multiple ways where opportunities for success are embedded into the curriculum.

3. Balance between Choice and Structure: Middle school students need some guidance due to continued brain growth and development, but they also need room to make choices. Because of the progressive educational atmosphere at Marylhurst, we are in a position to utilize a Ted Sizer model of student as teacher and student as student – it allows for fluid movement between choice and structure.

4. Honoring Both the Young Child and Young Adult: Middle years must honor the creativity, spirit, and zest of young childhood while also honoring the need for autonomy, growth, and maturity of young adult learners. Who else has honored that balance better than Marylhurst? We have formed a primary school on this very basis – modeling our progressive primary model from an emergent preschool pedagogy. Marylhurst has a strong tradition of creating a community where both youth and maturity are honored.

5. Developing Young Leaders: Now more than ever, in a world where technology and culture pushes young people to have access to vast amounts of information, our culture needs young people who demonstrate leadership. The middle school model that we are proposing allows for seminars versus lecture that embraces critical thinking and problem solving development. There will be an emphasis on leadership and self-management vs. adults managing children – middle schoolers will learn to regulate themselves. This will produce a higher level of accountability which leads to unique leadership. With this also comes a greater sense of self and ultimately, self-advocacy.

6. Individual vs. Socialization: One developmental task that middle school children begin to explore is the task of “me and us” – who am I and where do I fit? This developmental task of finding a balance between the autonomous individual who is a problem solver and self-assured (having mastered another task of competence) with a community member invested in a larger circle, defines our developmental approach to learning.

Since Marylhurst touts itself in exemplifying a developmentally appropriate school starting at age 2, it is therefore, a logical progression to move through the developmental years that we still define as childhood.

Please review the FAQ below and contact our admissions director for more information about this exciting endeavor.