October 27, 2023
Dear Montgomery Community,
I am writing with an exciting and important development for our students and their opportunities within our school. Last night our academic leaders met with fourth grade families to share an overview of the fifth grade program and our plans for the coming year. Montgomery’s enduring mission to ignite a love of learning, foster individual talents, and prepare for future success requires us to stay nimble in tailoring education to each student at every grade level. With that in mind, beginning in the 2024 - 2025 school year, the fifth grade will be recognized as part of the middle school program.
I’d like to take a moment to explain why we believe this change is beneficial to our students and how it aligns with our commitment to living our mission. Since the 2022 - 2023 school year, our fifth grade moved from a traditional lower school, single homeroom approach to a discipline-based, multi-period schedule. This enabled us to provide subject specific classes with teachers as well as help students build executive functioning skills which are so important for the middle school years. Additionally, our students benefit from a core teacher team that stays with them into sixth grade. In the current year, we’ve made additional adjustments to the fifth grade schedule to accommodate study hall and more one-on-one time with teachers.
As we’ve made these changes over two years, it’s become clear that the identity of the fifth grade aligns very well with our overall Middle School approach. As an integral part of the middle school, fifth grade students will have access to additional after school programming such as sports, the musical, and specialized arts offerings. We will also be able to further support our students with an expanded homeroom/advisory approach, allowing us to focus on specific needs of this age group such as executive functioning, social development, and more. Above all, we can maintain our commitment to preserving childhood while also deepening our ability to offer age appropriate levels of character development and activities.
The faculty and staff are very excited about what we can do with our new structures. Mr. Vandegrift and Mrs. Marotta’s close partnership, and Mr. V’s outstanding vision for middle level learning, makes this change in many ways feels intuitive. However, the divisions will walk together to help everyone understand the small things that are changing and the many ways things are staying the same. Of course, a lot of that work will be with students too as they explore the coming year and treasure their time right where they are.
In the coming months, we’ll be talking about further small changes to support learners in this transition. We know our current fourth grade families in particular are likely to have many questions, and we’re eager to continue our conversation with you. We’ll create opportunities to meet the fifth grade teachers and also are planning a transitional program in the summer for fifth grade as we do for our rising sixth.
The future is bright for our students and our school, and we are excited to share this news with you. We look forward to sharing more in small and larger conversations as the year progresses. As always, reach out anytime to me, Mrs. Marotta, and Mr. Vandergrift as you consider your student and their growth.
Head of School