Summer 2019 Newsletter: A Conversation with the Head of School

July 24, 2019

We asked Mr. Loescher to talk with us about how classes are created.

What questions do parents ask most often?

Parents ask a variety of questions, but at the top of the list are questions about how students are placed in classes.

So how are students placed?

The sending teacher or teachers carefully go over the list of students and divide the students based on a number of criteria with the following priorities in mind: 

  • Optimal academic environment for the student.  This often means looking at students who do or do not work well together.
  • Optimal social environment for the student.  This factors in a myriad of social dynamics, relationships, etc.
  • Gender balance.
  • Logistical constraints.  Sometimes there are scheduling anomalies that necessitate a certain placement (e.g. different French or math courses, chorus, support services, etc.).

Classroom sections are NOT created according to academic level, nor do we try to simply put friends together.  The priorities listed above are taken into account as a whole, and rarely is every priority achieved for every student.  In other words, we seek to do the best we can for each individual student knowing that we must also think of the class as a whole.  This requires flexibility in our students and families. It is in this “flexibility” where we find, year-in and year-out, many of the unexpected blessings and pleasant surprises that each school year seems to hold when we offer up our desire to control it.

Why are classes split into two sections?

In grades PS-5, classes are split primarily and almost exclusively because of numbers.  We have caps on class sizes at each grade level. When that cap is exceeded, we normally start a waiting list until reaching a certain number, at which point we would split into two sections.  

Splitting classes in grades 6-8 is a bit different.  The Middle School runs best when we have two sections of each grade, due to the number of core classes that each student takes.  Therefore, the only reason we would NOT split is if numbers were too low to allow for a dynamic academic environment in each section.  

Thank you, Mr. Loescher!