Academics

Upper School

Our Philosophy & Approach

Our Upper School (Grades 5 to 8) is a vibrant place where your child will embark on an academic and intellectual adventure, while still preserving and honoring the youthfulness of their middle school years. 

Students experience daily opportunities to be challenged, make important connections, and learn to understand and leverage their individual learning style. They tackle multi-layered exploration and test complex hypotheses with curiosity and creativity.

They learn to work through nuance and disagreement to find the best answers to increasingly difficult questions—not only about literature and physics, but also about community, character, and the world around them.

Stretching into new pursuits and striving for ambitious goals, students enjoy choice in crafting their academic experience, while receiving support from advisors, faculty members, and peers as they begin to actualize their full selves.

Peck graduates confidently bring a genuine love of learning to top-rated area secondary schools and prestigious boarding schools. From there, they excel in their lifelong pursuit of learning—wherever that may take them.

Sadie Albertyn, Head of the Upper School

List of 2 items.

  • About Ms. Albertyn

    Sadie Albertyn joined The Peck School in 2020, becoming its next Head of the Upper School.  She came to Peck with a wealth of administrative and teaching experience in independent schools at the middle school grade levels, and an excitement for nurturing tomorrow's leaders and change-makers.

    "The intentionality embedded into the Peck Upper School program, from the Eighth Grade capstone project to the use of the Harkness method in Humanities courses, speaks to our shared belief in the power and potential of young people to authentically engage with unstructured problems in meaningfully complex ways,” Albertyn said. 

    “Peck is looking beyond ‘answer-finders,’ and seeking to create problem-solvers – a noble pursuit, and one that I look forward to both shepherding and spearheading."

    In her career as an educator, she has served as a Grade 6 Dean and Math Department Chair at Meadowbrook (MA), as a mathematics and economics teacher at the American School in London, and in teaching and administrative roles at Saint Ann’s School (Brooklyn, NY) and Northfield Mount Hermon (MA).

    Additionally, from 2006-2009, Albertyn took a brief hiatus from her work in independent schools and spent three years as an Associate Client Advisor at Bridgewater Associates, a multi-strategy institutional hedge fund in Connecticut.

    Albertyn attended Barnard College in New York, graduating with a bachelor’s degree in Economics, and received her Masters of Science in Resource Economics from the University of Massachusetts.  
  • Blog Posts

    4 Reasons Why K-8 Schools Are My Jam
    I love the sense of discovery and growing self-awareness that develop during these critical years. Constantly frustrated by the images of middle school as something to be endured rather than celebrated, I know the K-8 structure gets middle school right, because I see it every day as students walk our hallways with their shoulders back and minds open. 


    Mrs. Albertyn's Favorite Books of 2020
    As a personal goal, I strive to read a book a week. This year, that goal has been met with mixed success, but even so, there have been some gems that have crossed my bedside table. I know there are many readers out there, so I thought I’d put together my “2020 Top Ten Page-Turners.” 

The Upper School Experience

List of 6 items.

  • Inquiry | Energized

    Science and Design

    We focus on exploration, investigation, and experimentation in Upper School math and science. This emphasis on inquiry-based, hands-on learning allows students to hone their critical thinking, along with analytical and problem-solving skills.

    Agency by Design

    Osborn Idea & Design Lab


    Science curricula:
    • Fifth Grade: Energy and the Natural World
    • Sixth Grade: Earth and Space Science
    • Seventh Grade: Biology
    • Eighth Grade: Chemistry and Physics


    Math

    In math classes, students develop computational and higher-order thinking skills through real-world problem solving and collaborative work. Students are encouraged to think creatively and flexibly, and they learn how to communicate their thought process as well as their solution to a problem.
    • Problem-Based Learning and Harkness-style Math (methods that encourage collaboration and agency in learning complex math concepts)
    • Foundations, Pre-Algebra, Algebra, Geometry
    • Real-world problem solving and interdisciplinary experiences

    Humanities

    In Humanities classes, students connect academic learning to outside experiences by reading, thinking, discussing, and writing across disciplines. Lessons are crafted to cultivate an awareness of perspectives and model an array of voices.
    • Upper School Reading Zone Program
    • Inquiry-based, student-led discussions
    • Harkness method
    • Iterative Compositions via The Writing Process
    • Writing Labs
    • Literature-focused Curricula
    • World Languages (Spanish, French, Latin)
  • Creativity | Reimagined

    Our students enjoy immersion in a strong, traditional arts program—which includes visual arts, music, dramatic arts, and woodworking—as well as an opportunity to explore the wider art of “making.” They are welcomed into a community of artists, actors, and musicians, where the arts are valued and celebrated as children reap the innate emotional and intellectual benefits of self-expression.

    Additionally, students nurture connections between creative expression and logical reasoning  in the Osborn Idea & Design Lab, where art mixes with technology, engineering, science, and math. 
    Several arts electives are open to students in middle school, including:

    • Instrumental Music Program
    • Chorus Program
    • Handbell Ensemble
    • Theatrical and Dramatic Performance
    • Extracurricular Art Programs
  • Sportsmanship | Underscored

    At Peck, we believe that character is made and tested on the field, rink, or court. Beginning in fifth grade, students are required to participate in interscholastic sports, except during the winter season (when they may choose to participate in the musical). Students have sports practices four days a week. Our program balances the development of perseverance and grit with grace and humility. Students may choose from a variety of sports each season that have included in the past:

    ​​Fall
    Cross Country (co-ed)
    Field Hockey (girls)
    Soccer (boys)

    Winter
    Volleyball (boys, girls)
    Basketball (boys, girls)
    Wrestling (co-ed)
    Ice Hockey (co-ed)

    Spring
    Lacrosse (girls)
    Lacrosse (boys)
    Softball (girls)
    Baseball (boys)
  • Leadership | Learned

    As students begin to learn who they are and how they can contribute to the community, Peck offers numerous opportunities for the practice of leadership. 

    These experiences come in traditional forms, such as serving on student council or as a yearbook editor, and in myriad other ways, too. 

    You’ll find Upper Schoolers leading lunch tables in our Family Dining program, serving as Kindergarten Helpers to our youngest learners each morning, or contributing to a complex Harkness discussion in a math, English, or history class, to name just a few. 

    Read about student leadership in the Peck News:  Leadership | Learned
  • Balance | Achieved

    Schedule

    Our schedule allows for long teaching blocks, which encourages deeper, more authentic investigation and an ongoing focus on process and skill development. All the while, we balance the social and emotional needs of adolescents. Acute attention is given to the pace of the school day to ensure smooth transitions and promote the joyful pursuit of learning. 

    Recognizing that students learn at different paces and in a myriad of ways, we differentiate within the classroom, emphasize student choice, and supplement with support and enrichment. Additionally, upper level mathematics employ performance-based groupings—allowing students with advanced math proficiency to accelerate to geometry by eighth grade.

    The academic day is rounded out with advisory, enrichment activities, assemblies, and community service—the kind of balance that facilitates growth and learning. 

    Agency and advocacy

    The Upper School program fosters an environment where students can practice more independence and accountability by providing increased choice through a weekly activities block, arts electives, athletic offerings, and the eighth-grade Capstone project.

    Additionally, students find a “home base” in an Advisory group of approximately 10 students that is overseen by a designated advisor who is a faculty member at their grade level. 

    Academics are department-based and students travel to their subject area teachers. Student support is paramount and our schedule includes daily academic support for all grade levels providing an important touchpoint with teachers.

    Community

    We create an environment where adolescents can safely explore who they are, bring their whole self to school, and celebrate the uniqueness of those around them. We create intentional opportunities for students to bond as a grade, as a division, and as a school through planned social activities, community service, and mentorship of younger students.
  • Childhood | Honored

    At Peck, we believe in the power of a middle school experience where students are not “caught in the middle” between elementary and high school. 

    Instead, our Upper School students grow into independent leaders, thinkers, and role models in their own right—while benefiting from an environment specifically tailored to meet the middle school-aged mind. As a K-8, our students are not overshadowed by, nor pressured to emulate, the high school world.

    At Peck, we are able to preserve childhood and all its joys.  We are able to craft a program and community that is both psychologically sound and age-appropriate. And we are able to inspire our students to reach higher and go further than they ever thought possible.

    This is the reality and beauty of a middle school experience that is separated from high school.