UP Middle School - University Prep Public Schools (2024)

Setting the Foundation in Middle School: Grades 5-8

UP Middle welcomes students as early as the fifth grade and works in partnership with their families over three or four years to build their lives as inquisitive scholars, joyous and able readers, and active citizens of both the school community and the larger community of neighborhood and city around them. Students at UPMiddle join a committed fellowship of teachers, counselors and staff members who come together each day to teach, guide, and provide students with an array of opportunities to defend their thinking, express themselves, and learn from others.

  • A focus on learning and content in all subject areas
  • Parents and families are an equal—and essential—partner in our work
  • A focus on structured homework
  • A focus on reading for knowledge and for joy
  • Classes beyond math, science, history and English matter
  • We also care about what happens after classes are done
  • We take play and moments of rest and recharging seriously
  • We gather together each morning for meeting and advisory
  • Our counselors travel with students over all four years
  • We lay a foundation in the summer—before school starts
  • Our students are mentored each week by high school students

A focus on learning and content in all subject areas

UP Middle school features a knowledge-led, content-rich, cumulative curriculum that takes seriously the question, “What should students learn?” Teachers at the school work together to outline the specific content that every child should learn in literature, history, geography, mathematics, science, music, and the visual arts over all four years. And we identify the content and skills that comprise the foundational knowledge that all students need in order to master content, think and read critically, and solve problems.

Our students spend an hour a day in all classes, and we give students the time to dive deeply into all subjects, not just math and English. In science, we conduct experiments and pose questions about the material world. In history, we explore over the course of four years the origins of the United States through contemporary times. And students complete major projects with unit-concluding performances, presentations, or papers in all their courses.

We reward and acknowledge academic work, achievement, and improvement by celebrating students who earn honors, and we invite those students to participate in our UP Middle Honors Program—an additional class that allows students to independently work on projects in small teams.

Parents and families are an equal—and essential—partner in our work

We spend a lot of time communicating with parents and families because we know they’re essential to the success of our students—both in school and out. All our teachers communicate consistently with a messaging system, and they return calls and emails within 24 hours. Our teachers also give parents family-friendly calendars in all their classes so families know exactly what their children are studying and when they’re going to be assessed on their work. And you’ll know what your child is reading—and has read—through access to our on-line book tracker.

And there’s a lot going on in our school—events, performances, meetings, programs—and we make sure our families are always connected through our school app. It’s a one-stop shop that provides families a place to connect school staff, check what’s for homework, catch up on events, news, and celebrations, and see their child’s current grades. Our website also provides families with a comprehensive calendar of all events—check it out.

A focus on structured homework

Students at UP Middle complete homework on a regular schedule, and the work done is designed to prepare them for learning that will take place in subsequent classes. In this way, U Prep teachers can extend the time we have with students in class. Parents also know exactly what work students have each night and check more easily check it for completion and quality.

A focus on reading for knowledge and for joy

At UP we read—a lot. We use shared reading practices across all classes that emphasize understanding and expression. Students independently read both during school in Advisory each morning and at home each night, and they track this reading and talk about it with their parents. In school students have a wide library of books to select from. During remote learning, students read from an e-library of over 3,000 titles on their school-issued tablet. We emphasize the need to read for pleasure and to relax, and we celebrate the experience and joy of reading through many different events and practices throughout the school year.

Students who come to UP who have traditionally struggled with reading on grade level receive five additional hours of instruction each week during our Zero Period, where they work in small groups on a mix of independent reading, guided reading, and shared text. The goal is to get students caught up quickly, so they can read to learn on and above grade level.

We are committed to building a community of all students who use reading to do well in their classwork, learn ever more about the world, and argue about ideas.

Classes beyond math, science, history and English matter

It’s important for students to learn broadly and widely and to express themselves through the arts. All our students take Visual Arts, music, and chess at least three times over the four years they are at UP. Students not only draw, paint, perform, and rehearse in these classes—they also learn the fundamentals about each, allowing them to expand and broaden an existing passion or begin to develop a new one.

We also care about what happens after classes are done

We teach our students leadership and deepen their connection to their community by offering students a wide array of after-school extracurricular clubs and sports programs—all completely free to families. Students who remain with us after school for two hours, from 4:00 to 6:00 pm four days a way, don’t just sit in the cafeteria doing “homework help”—they learn new skills and develop passions with our teachers and staff who run more than 25 different clubs and programs each semester.

Some of our current offerings include boys’ and girls’ clubs, band, chess, student government, school newspaper and reporting, book and movie clubs, drama and theater, cooking, yoga, coding, video editing, art, cheering, anime, workout clubs, social justice and community service clubs, as well as basketball, soccer, cheering, and track.

We take play and moments of rest and recharging seriously

Our school day is built around three “focus times” of two periods each, with breaks for socialization and restoration in between. We also break for an organic, delicious, homemade snack in the middle of every morning, served family-style by students. Every day we have lunch and then head outside for recess to have fun, get air, and have some additional exercise.

We gather together each morning for meeting and advisory

Students spend their first hour each day in their advisory, which is the place for morning celebrations, announcements and shout-ours, homework planning, binder checks, student check-ins, and independent reading. Each advisor is responsible for tracking students’ independent reading progress in school and at home and for goal-planning with them. Our advisors are also the first line when it comes to contacting parents and holding them accountable for work done at home.

Our counselors travel with students over all four years

Our counselors really get to know their students and families—because they stay with them over their entire career in middle school. Students will have one counselor for each grade to address social, emotional, and academic needs. And these counselors will travel with their class over the four years of middle school. Each grade’s counselor will work closely with teachers to understand what students need to maintain a minimum of an 88 GPA in their classes, and to reinforce the expectations that the school has for families around supporting students in school and completing work at home and completing independent, at-home reading.

We lay a foundation in the summer—before school starts

All students new to UP Middle spend a few weeks in the summer before their first year of school in SummerBridge, our program designed to introduce students to the school, their classmates, and their teachers. During SummerBridge, we team-build, go on trips, and learn the ropes about how UP works. The program is taught by the child’s teachers and counselors, so when school starts in September everyone can hit the ground running together.

We also run a version of SummerBridge for parents—ParentBridge—in the evening. ParentBridge is a time for parents and families to learn about the critical support necessary to help their students succeed in middle school. The focus is on understanding the school’s behavioral norms and transitioning process; supporting their students as independent readers; supporting their students in homework completion; getting the hang of using our electronic systems; understanding where their child is in reading-level progression; and practicing how to regularly stay in communication with their child’s teachers.

Our students are mentored each week by high school students

Outstanding high school students compete each year to join a mentoring program for our middle school students. Each week, these students come over from the high school to work with our students in small-group settings on becoming better citizens and people. Our high school students are extensively trained in how to speak to adolescents and work with them in small teams to solve problems and strengthen connections. And when our students become eight-graders, they’ll have the opportunity to become mentors to younger students, as well.

UP Middle School - University Prep Public Schools (2024)
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