Do More. Try More. Be More @ Saddle River Day’s Middle School

Gretchen Lee

When kids are toddlers and preschoolers, they have so many questions. But as they grow, those endless questions often slow and then stop. It sometimes seems as if school-aged kids are too busy learning and memorizing facts to take the time to ask, “Why?” or “How?” Unless they’re Middle School students at Saddle River Day School. “How” and “Why” are some of our favorite and most used words around here. Because encouraging intellectual curiosity is how we achieve our goal of turning students into scholars and adolescents into successful adults. 

Middle School is a time of developmental transition and change rivaled only by the first six months of a child’s life. This gives SRDS teachers and staff the opportunity to encourage our students to, Do More, Try More, and Be More during these pivotal years. 

At Saddle River Day School, the rigorous curriculum is bolstered by academic innovations like cross-curricular projects that engage our students creatively, academically and analytically. Capstone projects begin in the 5th grade with age-appropriate skills that build a solid foundation so that as 8th graders our students present a fully researched, scholarly paper. Our small class size and proximity to the SRDS Upper School means students can customize their educational experience by accessing honors and high school classes like “Computer Science Principles” and “Business and Entrepreneurship.” These opportunities to get ahead in their studies supplement our Middle Schoolers’ academic course load and set them up for success in college, while giving them the chance to think deeply and critically about topics of interest to them.

SRDS students are growing and changing in ways other than academics. They are making decisions about their interests and how they want to spend their after school and free time. Our Middle School offers a robust roster of enrichment opportunities that support the diversity of interests represented in our students. Students practice leadership by conceiving of and running clubs, hone their skills through participation in National and Extracurricular competitions and competitive athletics, and build expertise in public speaking and stage presence through our unique TED Talk Elective and our Middle School Theater program. Original programs give our Middle Schoolers insight into future career options with internship opportunities and the chance to solve real world problems through our Immersive STEAM labs. At SRDS, we help students prepare to lead with confidence and compassion in a rapidly changing world.

If you ask our Middle School students what’s most important to them, you’ll get answers as varied and distinctive as they are. But all of them would tell you that they feel ‘known’ at Saddle River Day School. A staff of teachers and administrators who will, as of the 2022-2023 school year, be led by longtime SRDS educator Stasia Kelly as our new Middle School Head, make it their business to know each of our students as individuals. We know this acceptance and understanding supports social emotional growth and serves to motivate and inspire our students in a way that reaches far beyond their time on campus. 

Ms. Kelly and the Middle School team have big plans to continue our tradition of student-centered instruction, enhance existing programs, and create new ones in response to the needs and demands of our ever-changing student body.

To learn more about the opportunities and academic innovation in our Middle School and to view the video:   www.saddleriverday.org/academics/middle-school