Monthly Archives

November 2015

The Middle School Program at St. James Academy

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By: Suzanne Fischer-Huettner, SJA Parent 

With the holiday approaching and application deadlines looming I hear chatter in the halls of St. James from both students and parents trying to decide whether to continue at St. James for middle school or move to another school in search of the perfect fit.  We all want the best experience for our child and in the Baltimore area there are so many excellence schools to fit every personality and learning style.  My daughter Bella started St. James in Kindergarten and elementary school years were filled with laughter, learning, nurturing and a personalized approach to her needs and abilities.  She tried every sport, sang, acted, learned chess and jumped at every chance to join in whatever activity was presented.  By fifth grade, we could clearly see she was growing into a pre-teen and expected to be treated differently.  She was coming out of her shell and needed a school that would challenge her personally and academically while still providing the small community feel we have come to love.  She wanted to be respected for her abilities, continue to try new things, pull away from the younger kids and given the freedom and independence she and her friends have clearly earned.

The middle school program at St. James accomplishes those goals and so much more.  My husband and I kept hearing about the International Baccalaureate program but honestly did not understand what that truly meant until Bella was immersed in it.  Even though she spends her days in Northern Baltimore County she is exposed to racial, cultural and religious differences through speakers, her academic classes and open discussions.  She travels around the world not only learning facts and dates but instead learning the reason behind religious differences, wars, tragedy and celebrations.  She is given the opportunity to express her opinions even if they go against the norm and has been challenged to articulate her beliefs through spoken and written word. Read More

SJA’s Middle School Experience

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Thoughtfully influencing the adolescent’s school life











  • International Baccalaureate (IB) World School designation—develops globally aware students who are knowledgeable, collaborative, innovative and strong problem solvers
  • Instruction is based on: INQUIRY-> INVESTIGATION -> REFLECTION
  • Responsive schedule in which students have two classes followed by a snack break, two classes followed by lunch, then two classes followed by sports or other after school activities
  • Advisory gathering each morning focusing on character development, living in community
  • Daily activity period includes student forums, study hall/teacher consultations, chapel, band/chorus, advisory
  • Scholars Program featuring interscholastic academic competitions
  • Technology integrated in classroom instruction plus separate tech classes (A MacBook Air laptop is provided by SJA for each student –classroom instruction and separate IB tech classes
  • 3 club sessions each year—including dance, music theater, Segway tinkering, needle felting, yoga and many other choices
  • Musical production in which more than two-thirds of middle school students participate
  • Leadership opportunities throughout including student council, chapel, radio studio, musical performances, musical theater, athletics, technology and more
  • Over-night class trips to Echo Hill, Horizons Mountain Campus, and Disney World
  • Transitions class for all 6th graders—executive skill strategies, mindfulness training, tech tools
  • Career exploration in 7th grade including an off-campus opportunity to shadow a professional
  • 8th Grade Seminar—Leadership and High School Prep; Formal Research Paper/Community Project; Tech
  • Teen Center activity nights include outdoor games, indoor sports, DJ and fun for all