1. When is the new Middle School opening and when is the Lower School being remodeled?
That all depends on when we reach our fundraising goals.
If we reach our $20 million goal in April 2019, we’ll start construction on the Middle School in May and plan to open the building in the fall of 2020. The Lower School (which will now include Grades JK–6) will be remodeled beginning at the end of the 2019–20 school year to be ready to open at the same time as the new Middle School, fall of 2020.
If, for some reason, the campaign takes longer than we plan, those dates could get pushed back.
2. What does it mean to remodel the Lower School?
Our teachers in Grades JK–6 have been innovating for our students for many years, but the furniture in their classrooms often represents a more traditional program. We intend to address that with the latest choices in classroom furniture, as well as new paint and carpeting in every classroom. But it’s not just about furniture. It’s about creating spaces that better support the innovative, inquiry-based academic program. Moving the 7th and 8th grade students to their own building frees up much-needed space throughout the campus for grades JK - 6. Over the coming months we will determine how best to utilize the campus in anticipation of Fall 2020. Please return to this page for future updates. As decisions are reached about space and program changes, information will be shared here, through regular communication channels, parent coffees and the campaign e-newsletter.
3. This is a lot of change in the alignment of our classes. What are the benefits to students of shifting to a JK–6 academic model and changing the Middle School to include only grades 7 and 8?
Our grades have been aligned the way they currently are — Lower School is JK–4, Middle School is 5–8 and Upper School is 9–12 — because that’s what our current physical plant could support.
When we add another building, we will for the first time be using the model of learning we believe best supports students’ academic, social, physical and emotional growth.
You may be interested to know that there’s a long-standing philosophical debate about where 6th grade belongs in a school setting. Educational researchers suggest 6th graders thrive when they are free from the influence of older students and have time and space to reflect on who they want to be. Being with younger students helps both 5th and 6th graders feel positive at a time that is filled with physical, emotional and social change.
4. Are there going to be new opportunities for our 5th and 6th graders in the new structure?
Yes. Our new structure will support our pre-teens as they grow in maturity and independence with new and developmentally appropriate opportunities for mentorship, leadership and a Capstone Experience project.
5. Who will lead each division in the new structure?
The new Lower School (JK–6) will be led by Director of the Lower School Sheena Hall and Assistant Director Robyn Nichols, who will transition from her current role as Assistant Director of the Middle School.
The new Middle School (7–8) will be led by Director of the Middle School Brian Lamont. The Upper School (9–12) will continue to be led by Director of the Upper School Rico Reed supported by Assistant Director Debbie Ayers.
6. Will the House System continue? If so, in what form?
The current Middle School House system provides an opportunity for students to have intentional experiences with students across each grade, and our new building will come with many more opportunities for this to happen organically throughout the school day. We are exploring whether or not to continue the House System in Middle School or whether it could have a new role in the Lower School. We haven’t decided yet.
7. Will this realignment change the way Grades 5 and 6 use technology?
We are already making changes based on a pilot program running this year that’s unrelated to our realignment. Beginning in the 2019-20 school year, the iPad will be the primary device for 5th and 6th graders and will travel home with them, along with a Bluetooth keyboard and Apple pencil. They will also have access to MacBook carts during the school day for advanced work that can’t be performed on an iPad.
8. Will 5th and 6th graders change classes the way they do now?
Not sure yet. We are exploring the best model for our students based on their developmental needs.
9. Is the new Middle School building intended to grow overall enrollment at Flint Hill?
We know that our small class size is of critical importance to parents and is a signature element of the entire Flint Hill experience. Keeping class sizes small will continue to be of paramount importance.
We currently have no plans to grow our total enrollment significantly, though we expect our total school enrollment will grow modestly over time as a result of the growth in the 7th and 8th grades.
10. We’ve heard over time about other plans for improving our campus — an Upper School performing arts center; more Upper School classrooms; a fully remodeled Lower School campus; lights, stands/pressbox, artificial turf and a new track for the Norris Mitchell Field. When will all that be happening?
We are following our Campus Master Plan and taking a strategic, measured approach to our long-term priorities for campus improvement. At this time, our top priorities are the new Middle School building and the preliminary Lower School remodel.
11. I would like to make a gift to Momentum — Campaign for Flint Hill. What do I do next?
Director of Institutional Advancement
Meredith Cook VanDuyne