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Robert Davis, 8th Grade Science Teacher

A lot of kids have adults telling them what to do, what to think, how to do a project, all day.
The students have the answers. It is our job as teachers to help them discover the answers within themselves.

A Joyful Education

When you think of Middle School, does the word “joy” come to mind? For us, it does. Where some see the uncertainty and awkwardness of the “braces years,” we see past them to the extraordinary opportunity for growth, friendships, burgeoning identity, and, yes, joy. It’s a deepfelt joy that is both the cause and effect of authentic engagement in learning, and it’s the goal of all we do in Middle School, in class and out.

Joy is why our demanding curriculum is not just broad and deep, but also designed to teach curiosity, creativity, empathy, ethics, resilience, and teamwork alongside literature and languages, math and science. Our students build meaningful academic and life skills, extensive knowledge, and a thirst for more.

Joy is why our classes are student centered. Whether sixth graders are creating their own sustainable communities in the Green City Design Challenge or eighth graders are making connections between historical and current events in the Our History Today Conference, students are excited about their learning because they are driving it.

Keeping school joyful is why we are dedicated to helping students develop socially and emotionally as well as cognitively. It’s why our advisory program is woven into Middle School life, why hourlong lunch/recess fosters independence and self-determination, and why we offer so many fun activities, like overnight trips, talent shows, a student-faculty basketball game, arts day, author visits… even a summer in December barbecue.

Just as important, our students form strong bonds with their teachers, who are experts on the transition from tween to teen and who find mentoring middle schoolers an absolute joy.

Middle School Social Emotional Development

Why we do it:
  • Middle School years are a crucial time of developmental growth and transition 
  • Students are developing a new appreciation for social justice, fairness, and the importance of relationships shift from family to peers.
  • Social-emotional development can be thought of as a skill, like any other academic skill. 
  • We want to be explicit and intentional about teaching these skills.
  • We seek to provide safe spaces for opportunities and practice.
How we do it:
  • Behind the scenes work with very intentional planning of advisories considering the student as a whole child, with whom they connect, and will thrive.
  • Saints Advisory Program includes bonding and developing dialogue skills with a DEIB (Diversity, Equity, Inclusion, and Belonging) focus, which stresses social-emotional learning and cultural competency, another place to build skills, and connect with others, both strengthening common bonds and appreciating difference. 
  • Social opportunities like bonding trips, class movie nights, clubs, sports, and enrichment.
Age 3-Grade 12 coed Episcopal day school in Alexandria, Virginia


List of 3 items.

  • Lower School

    Age 3-Grade 5
    400 Fontaine Street
    Alexandria, Virginia 22302
  • Middle School

    Grades: 6-8
    4401 West Braddock Road
    Alexandria, Virginia 22304
  • Upper School

    Grades: 9-12
    1000 St. Stephen's Road
    Alexandria, Virginia 22304