Middle school is a common entry point for students to enroll at The Country School. Having watched their child grow and progress from Kindergarten into 5th grade, parents often seek out The Country School in 6th grade as a chance to spend three years engaged in compelling academic work and preparing to excel in high school, while thriving in our challenging, supportive, and nurturing child-centered environment.
Beginning in Kindergarten, Country School students learn about our 9 Core Values: honesty, respect, responsibility, compassion, generosity, commitment, cooperation, fairness, and moral courage. We expect our students to demonstrate these tenets of character daily in their interactions with teachers, peers, and members of our community. Each month of the school year is devoted to one of these 9 values, and our faculty incorporate them into classroom learning. By the time our students transition into the Upper School, a solid foundation of kindness and respect for others has been laid and makes them friendly and welcoming 6th graders.
What sets our Upper School apart?
Constant communication with teachers. The parent-teacher relationship at TCS is a true partnership. Teachers are accessible via email, and our school portal, StarNet, facilitates easy access to information for parents, including their child's assignments, progress, and daily schedule. Conferences are for positive conversations as much as they are for discussing areas that could be improved upon.
Engaging and focused class time. Our teachers spend little time on major classroom management or discipline issues. Our students possess a seriousness of academic purpose and respect for our faculty that sets the stage for a positive learning experience.
Recess. As many schools reduce or remove recess from their curriculums, Country School students enjoy the benefit of much needed unstructured outdoor time. With two scheduled recesses per day, students learn to be responsible, organized, upstanding citizens, while still being encouraged to play like the kids they are.
Strong, consistent language prep.
Our students begin Spanish
in Kindergarten and continue through 8th grade, adding Latin
as an option in 7th. In the 2015-2016 school year, 100% of our 8th graders placed above the national average in the National Spanish Exam, with some winning awards in the process. Our Upper School students also visit local preschools and day cares where they provide age-appropriate Spanish lessons to toddlers, often forming bonds and friendships with these young children in the process. For students joining us with less language experience, our teachers, tutors, and learning specialist are masterful at quickly bringing the child up to speed.
Upper School students spend one hour per week discussing important "growing up" issues with their peers and teacher. This open dialogue works to humanize children's experiences and challenges to their peers, deepening their connections and establishing common ground. Learn more about our Life Skills course here
1:1 laptop initiative. Starting in 2016-17, all Upper School students are required to bring a laptop to each class. While this policy is recent, we have already reaped the benefits of teaching students to use the powerful tool of a laptop and supervised access to the internet. Students have developed a greater understanding of the complexities of the world, our classroom source material has become much more diverse, and the students have important experience in harnessing and responsibly using this powerful tool.
STEAM. Science, technology, engineering, art, and math are incorporated into our curriculum as a whole, and the 2016-2017 school year marks the inaugural STEAM class for 7th and 8th graders. Kids work together to analyze and solve the challenges put forth to them by their teachers, often using unconventional materials and methods in the process. This exposure to design thinking has made STEAM many students' favorite classes.
Community Service. Every Country School student engages in community service, regularly volunteering at non-profit organization throughout the year to serve and strengthen our local community.
Athletics. Our Upper School students can play on any of our 5 interscholastic sports teams: basketball, soccer, lacrosse, field hockey, and golf. We offer varsity and JV teams for each sport, so every student is offered the opportunity to pursue their emerging athletic passions at a high level or try a new sport.
, music, and theater curriculum exposes students to everything from hand bells to a flying Mary Poppins. All students take art and music classes, and any Upper School student who would like to participate in our annual musical production gets a role, whether it be the lead, a support role, or as stage crew.
Preparation for the future and the world. We believe in graduating students with the study and organizational skills to flourish in high school and beyond. The college matriculation rate of our alums consistently fluctuates between 98-100% to a wide range of some of the nation’s top universities. More importantly, we firmly believe in the value of our mission to instill a strength of character that will serve our students well in future careers, relationships, and endeavors.
So...what happens after 8th grade?
This is a common question we are asked by parents of children as young as 5. Generally, our students follow three paths upon graduation: public high school, local private or parochial high school, or boarding school. The 2016 graduation class broke down as follows: 10 students went to public high school, 11 students chose local private high schools, and 5 students went to boarding school. We offer a robust secondary school counseling program, led by Headmaster Neil Mufson. While decisions regarding high school are unique to each family, one thing is true across the board: no matter where they go to high school, Country School students are among the most prepared members of their student body.
Do Country School students really perform well compared to other private schools?
Yes. Our students perform well above the national average in all subjects on the one standardized test our students take. To give just one example, in the 2015-2016 school year, 96% of our 8th grade students performed above the national average on ERBs* in math.
Is it worth switching to private school for the middle school years only?
Absolutely. Sixth through eighth grade is a critical period of time when students are honing their study and organizational skills, navigating pre-adolescent changes and challenges, and soaking up the knowledge necessary to perform well in high school. But don't take it from us--take it from a parent. Click here
to read a letter from a mother whose twins transferred to The Country School in 7th grade and will graduate in 2017.How can I afford The Country School?
Our annual tuition is considered moderate by AIMS (Association of Independent Maryland Schools) standards, and we have three payment options for the school year. For families with a demonstrated financial need, aid is available and can be discussed on a case-by-case basis with our Admissions Director. In fact, 30% of our students receive need-based financial aid.
How many Country School students go to college, and where?
Our college matriculation rate hovers between 98-100%, depending on the graduation year. Our 2012 graduating class went on to Yale University, Clemson U, Bucknell U, West Virginia U, Syracuse U, Florida State U, East Caroline U, Davidson College, the University of Virginia, Towson U, Salisbury U, and many other reputable institutions.
What is the social structure like at The Country School? Are there a lot of cliques? What about bullying?
Inherent to a small school is the ease of getting to know each other well. Our teachers have known their students from the time they were very young, and our small class sizes afford the opportunity to become very familiar with each of their personalities, strengths, challenges, and needs. Likewise, our students do not have the luxury of anonymity with their teachers or their peers. A smaller pool makes for more conscientious children who are aware that their actions will never go unnoticed, unaddressed, or unappreciated. Certainly, there are students who naturally gravitate to one another as in any school setting, but bullying or ostracizing is a non-issue here. The ethos of our 9 core values is a sense of inclusiveness. Students commonly ask others who are sitting alone at lunch to join them, and our student body is incredibly welcoming and sensitive to the needs and personalities of others.
*ERB provides highly-regarded admission assessments and standardized achievement tests.