Middle School at CDS

The Middle School years are a special time in a child’s journey towards adulthood. It is also an important preparatory period for high school coursework and long-term academic success. This dynamic requires classroom educators who have both an understanding of early adolescence and an ability to communicate passion and expertise in their subject areas. At CDS, our Middle School teachers have these traits and are given the platform to strive for excellence while supporting each child as an individual.

Our low student-teacher ratio allows teachers to connect with each student and identify individual interests, strengths, and challenges. The curriculum is rich and complex, designed to prepare students for the rigors of future Advanced Placement courses. Our focus on academic excellence, however, does not sacrifice an emphasis on joy in learning; our middle school classrooms are creative, comfortable, and nurturing homes away from home, contributing to our students’ willingness to take academic risks. At CDS, we believe that a positive mindset towards learning is the primary attribute that their generation will need for future academic, career, and life success.

Teachers tailor curriculum and instruction to be relevant in their students’ lives. Each curricular unit begins with a pre-assessment; data from these pre-assessments are used to provide authentic and respectful learning opportunities based on what each student already knows and understands. Each Middle School unit involves projects designed to cultivate critical thinking, creativity, collaborating, and communication skills. Projects from different subject areas are often coordinated so that students identify connections across disciplines. Teachers culminate these projects with assignments requiring students to communicate their understanding to classmates, parents, or the broader school community.
Being Downtown and small enough to travel outside of Charlottesville on field trips allows our Middle School students to productively engage their world during a period of great curiosity. Having a positive and intelligently tailored outlet for their curiosity in the broader world is imperative at this age. If school is perceived as disconnected from the “real world” that awaits, adolescents will find their own methods to explore boundaries and adulthood.
Due to our commitment to celebrating, connecting with, and challenging every child, each middle school student has an advisor who serves as a “home base” for daily connection and weekly counsel. Small advisory groups give students a chance to talk about issues with their peers and an advisor in a non-judgmental setting.

By the end of their Middle School years, CDS students have the quiet confidence, skills, and self- esteem to take the leap and find great success in high school and beyond.

Read more about the the Middle School culture at CDS, the daily schedules and course outlines, what makes CDS different and testimonials from CDS parents. >

Our Teachers

 

Michelle Lockwood

Michelle Lockwood

Michelle earned a Bachelor of Science degree in Biology from UNC-Wilmington and teaching credentials from Colorado University at Boulder. She shares her passion for the natural world with CDS middle schoolers as the middle school science teacher. More>

 

Clare O'Brien

Clare O'Brien

Clare graduated from the University of Mary Washington in 2011 with a Degree in English and has a Secondary (6-12) Teaching License in English Language Arts. This is her fourth year at CDS as the middle school English teacher. More>

 

Tiffany Stauffer

Tiffany graduated from Millersville University in Pennsylvania with a Bachelors degree in Education and an endorsement in Secondary Mathematics. She earned her Masters degree in Mathematics from the University of Virginia, with an endorsement as a Math Specialist. She is excited to begin her first year teaching math in the CDS Middle School. More>

 

Bret Kampf

Bret Kampf

Bret is currently completing his Masters of Teaching from the Curry School of Education at the University of Virginia. This is his first year teaching History in the CDS Middle School. More>

 

Katie Hickson

Katie Hickson

Katie Hickson is a former Echols Scholar at the University of Virginia where she earned both her undergraduate degree and her Masters of Teaching. This is her seventh year at CDS and fourth year of teaching middle school math. More>

 

Jaime Hawkins

Jaime Hawkins

Jaime graduated from the University of Virginia in 2001 with a Bachelor of Arts in History and a Masters of Teaching in Elementary Education.This is her fourth year at CDS and first year teaching middle school English Language Arts. More>

 

Spanish

Spanish

Spanish is a core subject at CDS and meets four times per week. Spanish grammar is explored in depth. Students practice speaking Spanish with situational dialogues, movement activities, and games. They read and write books in Spanish. Our students explore the cultures of Spanish-speaking countries through art, music, literature, and popular media. Once during their Middle School years, our students travel to a Spanish-speaking country to increase fluency, explore customs, and provide meaning and purpose to learning the language. While we differentiate, our goal is for our Middle School students to complete the Spanish I curriculum and to have moved into Spanish II curriculum by the end of eighth grade.

Music

Music

Our music program includes a minimum of three music classes and up to seven music, theater, and performing arts opportunities each week. In each Middle School music class, students learn 3-4 part harmony songs, advanced rhythmic studies, and are introduced to composers and genres that span from the Baroque Era to New Music from the 21st Century. All CDS Middle School musicians are expected to read traditional vocal scores as well as learn to sight read. Wind Ensemble and Jazz Ensemble are for more experienced instrumentalists. All CDS Middle School instrumentalists are required to learn all major scales in the circle of fifths, and jazz ensemble instrumentalists also learn the circle of fourths. All Middle School students will have an opportunity to audition for the Virginia Band Director’s Association All-District Band Festival. Additionally, CDS Middle School instrumentalists will participate in various band festivals.

Physical Education and Wellness

Physical Education and Wellness

Physical Education and WellnessFitness and wellness education at CDS encompasses mind, body, and spirit. Students participate in athletic conditioning, team building, and sportsmanship classes. Benefits include refined motor skills and articulation, increased body awareness, ability to manage stress, and increased concentration and focus. CDS students recognize the relationship between feeling good and regular physical activity, healthy food intake, and positive lifestyle choices. Teachers are advocates of fitness and wellness, encouraging students to make healthy lifestyle choices and participate in sports, martial arts, or dance year-round. CDS students attain the skills, knowledge, and attitudes that promote life-long health, physical activity, and productivity.

An important component of the Physical Education program is to teach the CDS core values of respect, responsibility, kindness, sportsmanship, perseverance, quiet confidence, leadership, integrity, and honesty. Examples from the CDS community and role models from the world, both past and present, are used to give students concrete examples for each core value. They learn to demonstrate responsible personal and social behaviors through dialogue and role-playing.

Fine Art

Fine Art

In Art class, students are inspired to expand their artistic skills and to appreciate different mediums. Students learn to use lines, forms, shapes, color values, and symmetry in their work. Art History is incorporated into lessons, which teaches students to recognize artists, periods, techniques, and different media. Students have the confidence to experiment with and develop their own unique art projects. Students are given the opportunities to share their art within and outside of the CDS community through art contests and community art shows.