How can one teacher meet the developmental needs of every child? We asked ourselves the same question.
Nothing is more important to a young mind than the thoughtful guidance of experienced teachers and a mindfully constructed learning environment. We employ two full-time lead teachers in every lower school classroom to support every child individually. Our two-teacher model allows for learning and discovery in full-class, small-group, and individual configurations. This flexibility is crucial to our experiential learning philosophy. Through collaboration, conversation, and hands-on experiences within a challenging curriculum, GUS students become active learners who understand the meaning and purpose of what they are doing. They also grow to understand their individual learning styles—their strengths, their weaknesses, what they are passionate about, and where they have the potential and opportunity to lead.
Academic Support and Enrichment
The curriculum at Glen Urquhart is robust and rigorous. At times, all students may benefit from additional support. Glen Urquhart’s Academic Support Team is designed to assist students when they need help accessing the GUS curriculum. Partnering with parents, teachers, and students, the Academic Support Team works to help each student realize his/her full academic potential. Two academic support coordinators, one in the lower school and one in the upper school, help arrange tutoring, educational testing, and classroom accommodations. In addition to the academic support coordinators, the team consists of the lower school and upper school directors, a math specialist, a writing specialist, and an expert in the area of executive functioning. This team regularly reviews the needs of our students and adjusts student support accordingly.
We assess students in a variety of ways. All students’ reading is monitored two to three times a year through fourth grade with Fountas and Pinnell reading assessments and as needed in grades five through eight. Once a year, students in grades four through eight take the Comprehensive Testing Program (CTP) and the Writing Assessment Program (WrAP), both developed by Educational Records Bureau. DIBELS (Dynamic Indicators of Basic Early Literacy Skills) testing is used in grades kindergarten through two to determine a student’s progress in phonological awareness and phonics skills. and the Daze is given in grades three through five to assess reading comprehension and fluency. In math, a school-wide, year end assessment developed by the GUS math department is given to all students.
Support staff and classroom teachers all provide support as needed. The academic support staff may assist the teachers in differentiating the language arts instruction as well as work with small groups of students on writing and reading. The math support staff pulls small groups of students who may need reinforcement of skills as well as support for classroom work. A structured study hall is offered to fourth and fifth grade students who may need some time at school to complete assignments. The study hall is monitored by GUS teachers. In grades six through eight, there is scheduled time each week for students to meet with individual teachers. Students requiring extra math instruction may take math lab, which reinforces the concepts being taught in their math class.
Parents may choose to hire an independent tutor for after school tutoring. Support coordinators assist parents in finding the right tutor for the student, and if the tutoring will occur on campus, they find space for the instructor and student. The academic support coordinator works with the teachers to communicate goals, needs, and other support related information with the tutors. We work with many professional tutors who are familiar with the GUS curriculum and can provide support in any academic area as well as with executive functioning skills.
The math coordinator dedicates part of her week to offer enrichment and support in the lower school. In grades kindergarten through fifth grade, classroom teachers utilize this support to offer students challenging work where they can explore more deeply the topics covered in their math class or have the opportunity to review a topic or procedure they are finding more challenging in a smaller group setting. These groups can vary from week to week and topic to topic based on the classroom teacher’s assessment of the students’ understanding and progress.
Math Lab is offered to seventh and eighth students who benefit from additional practice and review of math concepts presented in pre-algebra and algebra. This class is an addition to regular math class and is taught in a small class setting (4- 6 students), allowing students opportunities to hear explanations, ask questions, and practice skills with more individualized attention. In addition, students have opportunities to review previous material, preview new material before it is taught in class, and practice additional relevant math topics. This program is unique to GUS.
For students who excel in mathematics and have demonstrated an ability to succeed beyond our standard curriculum, we offer enrollment in Johns Hopkins Center for Talented Youth. Students are placed in this program based on their performance on a placement test administered by Johns Hopkins, students’ scores on a standardized tests, and demonstrated ability to work independently as well as strong work habits in the GUS Mathematics Program.