An independent day school educating students PreK-Grade 12
Meet Dr. Josh Deitch, Head of Middle School
I am very happy to write to you as the Head of Middle School at King School. Every day, I watch students participate in discourse, dialogue, collaboration, and experience their willingness to take risks. Our reflective and thoughtful educators are passionate about ensuring that every member of their community is seen and known. I could not be happier to work at a place where everyone feels seen and known.
Over the course of my career, I have sought to build communities and cultures deeply devoted to the value and power of every individual student. Middle School students go through more change during their young adolescence than at almost any time in their lives. They require a unique blend of personal relationships, caring support, authentic academic challenge, independence, and process orientation. I work with dedicated teachers in the Middle School, who are clearly invested in helping our children develop both as scholars and as citizens of the world.
I actively partner with students, families, staffulty, and leadership to continue to build a student-centered and engaging middle school experience that always reflect the needs and passions of every King student.
All the best,
Dr. Josh Deitch
Head of Middle School
“King School guides every student in the discovery of who they are and how they learn. Students explore a wide variety of fields and topics deeply and intentionally. They seek to understand the ways that strong communities are built upon differences both in experience and perspective. Only then can students begin to see learning as a way to understand their community, their place in the world, and the possibilities they possess to drive positive change.”
What do you feel distinguishes King from other schools?
King’s recognition that academic excellence does not come at the expense of personal development feels important. The fact that students are encouraged to move beyond their comfort zones, to never define themselves by one metric -- good at math, artistic, athletic, etc. -- and that they are instead seen as more than their individual parts is incredibly meaningful. While other schools may help students develop into strong students, King does so while also ensuring that they become good people.
How does King challenge and inspire students?
King’s educational philosophy recognizes that there is as much -- if not more -- value in the process of learning than in the product. While our results are strong and our students achieve excellence, we recognize that learning is not simply about the accumulation of knowledge. The most important moments in a child’s journey are not always the moments when they get the answer right, but instead are those when they have learned to ask “why,” “why not,” and perhaps most importantly, “where is my responsibility in making change.” In order to do that, we challenge students to go beyond the basic facts and to express their own well-formed and fully-researched opinions in increasingly complex ways.
What are the benefits of King’s Middle School program?
Because we are so devoted to our students as individuals and we recognize the importance of providing different paths to excellence, it is essential that our students understand that their voices are valuable and have power. Community is not simply something adults talk about and define from on high. Instead, a strong community like King’s Middle School builds as a culmination of every interaction, action, and decision, each of which is built around our virtues of integrity, kindness, perseverance, and respect. When we look at our community from that lens, every member of our school has power -- the power to change someone’s day, to impact the foundations of the school environment, to do something that’s never been done before. During a time in life where children don’t feel seen, heard, or recognized for who they are, we create a program built around a plethora of learning experiences designed to help our students find their voice.
How do we prepare Grade 8 students for Upper School?
New this year, the Grade 8 Team developed the Leadership Lab workshop that meets once a rotation designed to provide students with an established time to discuss leadership and the various ways that manifests itself both in our community and our society as a whole. Too often we find that we expect our Grade 8 students to act as leaders in the Middle School simply because they are the oldest. While that is the case, it should also be the case that we guide their development in this area. The result is a workshop series, which asks students to investigate a variety of perspectives on, and ways that, leadership manifests itself in individuals and communities. Because leadership is also a personal quality that reveals itself differently in every individual, these investigations include an exploration of self in relation to the world.
How would you describe the Middle School experience at King?
In King Middle School, students start to understand how they learn so they see learning as a tool to understand the world. This enables them to understand where they fit in the world, which, in turn, enables them to understand how they can impact the world. King Middle School students also understand who they are as a person and how they work within a community. They learn that a community is built upon differences and that this is a strength.
It seemed pretty simple: build a boat designed to float. That was the task assigned to Grade 6 students in February as they tackled the STEM challenge. To prepare for the Build-a-Boat challenge, students conducted several mini-lab activities to test the concepts and make sense of the properties of water, i.e. buoyancy, adhesion, cohesion, surface tension, and displacement.
This interdisciplinary unit, coordinated between the Grade 6 English and History teachers, included a literary study of the book, A Long Walk to Water, and a unit on Northeastern Africa where students discussed the issues that have persisted in that region for thousands of years.
PA King Cares Co Chairs are grateful for our generous community and volunteers: "On January 24, a dedicated and enthusiastic group of nine PA King Cares parents and three very generous faculty members loaded up the King vans and headed into New York City for a 10:00 p.m. rendezvous with a Midnight Run representative."
The threat of 'war' was looming in Ken Lewis's classroom in late January as students raced to form alliances and find a resolution before the end of the period. Fortunately, the war was not real and the project was a simulation but the role-play activity did offer a lively collaboration designed to introduce students to the country alliances that developed prior to the start of World War I.
Grade 6 students examined controversial environmental topics and utilized elements they had practiced in their history and english classes. The preparation with their CEA - claim, evidence, analysis, is related to their job roles in English book club reflections and the inner/outer circle is similar to a style used in a recent History class debate.
The Middle School Advisory Program at King is designed to provide students with support and guidance. Each MS student has an Advisor to serve as a mentor and advocate. In late December, the program hosted its first Advisory Olympics and mentors became coaches and students became competitors as they battled it out in three different areas for the right to become the Middle School Advisory Champions.
A group of six Upper School students and six staffulty, including Head of School Karen Eshoo, from multiple divisions and disciplines traveled together for and experienced an insightful and transformative experience at the NAIS People of Color Conference and the Student Diversity Leadership Conference in December. As student Hanhah Greene '21 enthused, "What was so compelling about this conference was meeting people from all around the country living totally different lives, but were able to connect and find such close similarities between one another."
The Class of 2020 has achieved success in the classroom, on the athletic fields, and on the stage; now they are preparing to pursue lives of ongoing inquiry and purpose in college. Congratulations to the 43 seniors who have been accepted and have already committed to attend their first choice college or university!
After brainstorming a variety of acts of kindness, Grade 6 created a Kindness Calendar, urging us to live these values over the next two weeks. Grade 7 took their view of kindness on the road, partnering with four different organizations and Grade 8 students recognized and expresses their gratitude to the folks who make our campus and community run smoothly.