A vital destination of its own.
For too long, Middle School has been seen as a passage between Lower and Upper Schools—a transition to endure, rather than its own unique experience. At Nightingale, Middle School is the center of our students’ journey, where hard work brings joy, and community inspires confidence.
Nightingale fundamentally knows that intellectualism and happiness work best in tandem. Students learn joyfully, and in turn, develop individual voices that emerge from the crowd. They begin to assume leadership roles and head up teams. At the same time, Middle School builds in scheduled time for play and creative freedom, which allows the students to relax and explore new interests with intention. Nightingale students emerge from Class VIII as eager, enthusiastic learners who are ready for the challenges of Upper School.
Being anonymous is impossible at Nightingale. The faculty, advisory, and dean programs create a sound scaffolding for each student’s academic and social-emotional needs. There is a constant focus on equity and inclusion, embracing others' differences with empathy, and becoming an ally. Nightingale has upended the prevailing narrative about Middle School and turned an oft-overlooked passage into a vital destination of its own.
Middle School Highlights
Spread Your Wings
Minimesters are a week-long pause in classwork where students engage in immersive, interdisciplinary experiences that give a real-life context to the classroom’s content. From pitching and marketing new businesses to practicing stage combat with theatre professionals, minimesters let teachers and students experiment with activities and ideas beyond what they typically engage within a given school day. These all-day sessions between semesters refresh the way students connect and learn.
Immersive, interdisciplinary experiences that give a real-life context to the classroom’s content.
A Unique Opportunity to Be Heard
Nightingale is the only all-girls school in New York with a Middle School Debate Team. Students compete locally, regionally, and nationally. Middle School debaters get experience competing against 400 boys and girls from around the city and are often ranked in first, second, or third places. Class V takes debate upon entering Middle School so they can get practice negotiating with others, articulating their ideas, and voicing their opinions while feeling heard in a supportive environment.
Nightingale is the only all-girls school in New York with a Middle School Debate Team.
Choose Your Adventure
Going beyond the traditional curriculum sets Nightingale apart from the pack. Students take minor classes in everything from social psychology to the power of language to museum education to identity. It’s a holistic and interdisciplinary approach that builds on critical skills and concepts. By taking non-traditional electives, Nightingale students will not merely be the ones answering all the questions; they will be the ones creating them.
Nightingale students will not just answer all the questions; they will create them.
The "How" and the "Why"
Middle School prioritizes teaching students how to become organized, curious, and efficient learners. The "how" and the "why" are pursued with vigor across the curriculum, as the students learn study skills, time management, how to argue effectively, and why it all matters. Developing these core competencies is crucial to development at this level and beyond.
Middle School students are taught to argue persuasively and understand why it matters.
Years at a Glance
An emerging independence
Middle School is an environment where intellectual curiosity, the joy of discovery, and the excitement of taking risks are celebrated.
Class V students focus on the process of learning rather than the outcome, using a learning rubric instead of letter grades. Their Skills class supports them as they discover how to best learn and thrive in the coming years. There is a focus on the students finding their own voices in Debate class, building community and supporting one another on a team-building trip, and receiving support in turn from two class deans.
It’s a dramatic start to the year: Everyone takes the stage as students perform with the boys from Allen-Stevenson. It is also the first year of their Latin requirement. Computer Science class teaches students to become good online citizens, focusing on personal safety and media literacy. Students travel to houses of worship around NYC in their history class, World Religions, and welcome guest speakers who support their broadening worldview.
Connecting classics, community, and memory, Shakespeare kicks off the Class VII year. After a close reading of A Midsummer Night’s Dream, students study scenes with a professional actor during a two-week workshop. Students participate in the Sweet Readers program as community engagement and discuss and create works of art with elders with Alzheimer’s in order to discover the people behind the disease. Class VII history is built around civics and citizenship, and students learn to advocate for a particular position about which they are passionate.
Class VIII students sharpen their skill-set and expand their mindset. Learning about human behavior and identity connects students to studies in English and history, and serves to advance their personal social development as well. Their diversity, inclusion, and equity course work investigates the world through an exploration of race, and inquiry-based learning, problem-solving, active listening, and inclusive dialogue. Through the history curriculum, students focus on studying race in America and completing a project devoted to amplifying the voices of those whose voices have been silenced.
Programs & Curriculum
Discovering oneself and supporting others
Middle School encourages each student to learn where her real strengths and interests lie, and to grow in competence, confidence, and initiative.
Middle School students explore multiple pathways to solving problems while simultaneously developing resilience in the face of failure. Whether in mathematics, the laboratory, or makerspace, students build problem-solving, communication, and collaboration skills.
Journeys in ancient history, world religions, civics, Latin, English, and modern languages help students discover a span of knowledge that strengthens critical thinking, and how they read and develop ideas on the page.
- Global Education
Trips to the Grand Canyon, Costa Rica, or Iceland expose students to a myriad of cultures, languages, and world regions. Students study and present research locally, preparing themselves for the vast global opportunities of Upper School.
- Leadership Development
As students gain more independence, they are encouraged to take on critical leadership roles at Nightingale. They serve on boards, join the debate program, and participate in meaningful student-led initiatives where their voices are heard, and their purpose resounds.
To navigate an increasingly complex, information-rich world, the library program teaches students how to use technology wisely in research and presentations. A year-long Class V Skills course helps students access specific tools and strategies to develop essential executive functioning skills.
- Student Life
Middle School has its own literary magazine, but students also find expression through student government, representation on school boards, community engagement, and clubs. Outlets such as these create meaningful student involvement inside and outside the Schoolhouse.
Middle School athletic teams provide every student the opportunity to compete, develop her teamwork skills, and have fun. The no-cut policy allows students to experience playing a wide range of sports that mirrors the Upper School program.
- Performing Arts
All Middle School students receive theatrical training that reinforces confidence, self-expression, discipline, responsibility, and teamwork. Musical theater, chorus, dance, drumming, composition, and a string ensemble create a robust and well-rounded arts education for everyone.
- Visual Arts
2D and 3D art, photography, ceramics, painting, video, and museum studies offer broad, hands-on experience to students in visual arts. Students apply observational and critical thinking skills in classroom discussions and visual education courses.
From 3:15–6:00 p.m. every school day, the fifth grade homeroom transforms into a space for students to get a jump start on their homework, collaborate with partners, receive help from peer tutors and faculty, engage in creative play and socialization, welcome special guests from the community, and attend Thinkery lectures.