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.
Elizabeth Abbott '26 enthusiastically describes the joy of playing violin, sharing, "I love that we get to play during COVID times, and that I get to play an instrument I love, and have a passion for. Playing the violin is meaningful to me. The most challenging thing that I have learned when playing my violin is The Pirates of the Caribbean. It was both challenging and rewarding when it came together. What I look forward to learning in this program is how to play harder songs where we have to change strings faster, and especially for 8th and 16th notes."
Elizabeth is one of the Middle School musicians in the strings ensemble program. Colin Benn, Middle School Strings Faculty, "loves the process of taking something that is complex and breaking it down into manageable steps that, if practiced consistently, will yield positive results. This is my favorite element of teaching students how to learn a new instrument or piece." Mr. Benn began co-teaching with Performing Arts Faculty Garrett Mendez during the 2019-2020 school year. This fall, Mr. Benn is sharing his musical expertise in string ensemble with Grade 6 and Grade 7 students and is excited that King has expanded the string ensemble program to include Grade 6 students.
King School students in the Grade 7 and 8 middle school band recently created holiday remix recordings using Soundtrap, a digital audio workstation software program. We invite you to listen to some of the creative remixes here.
Jenna Du Puis, Mathematics Faculty and Middle School Mathematics Coordinator, is in awe of her students. Mrs. Du Puis reflects on the wonder and joy she feels in helping Grade 7 and Grade 8 students learn to think and work as mathematicians and demonstrate their understanding as critical thinkers. Bruno Reinhoefer Ribeiro '26, a Grade 7 student in Mrs. Du Puis' Geometry class, describes the biggest challenge as "using new algorithms such as substitution, same base/same altitude, etc. My favorite thing to learn in this class is probably proofs since they are always logical and satisfying to do."
The student-led clubs are meeting virtually this year. Parker Hayashi '25 feels that the Gaming Club "allows students to talk to each other mask free, and they can build on their friendship and teamwork." Middle School Dean of Student Life Ben Magidson appreciates that "students love spending time in their clubs, because it allows them to connect to a shared idea; to socialize outside of school while enjoying each other's virtual company mask-free; and to propose and lead activities."
Stephanie Hoos, English Faculty and Middle School Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion Coordinator, supports her Grade 8 students in reflecting meaningfully on their own and others' beliefs. Ms. Hoos describes her objective as "supporting curiosity in students and engaging with deeper questions through the overarching concepts of windows and mirrors. Windows give us a point of view into another person's space, perceptions, world views, thoughts, and feelings. Mirrors give us greater insight into ourselves and ask us to think critically about our own beliefs and behaviors."
Grade 6 students in Lifeskills, guided by School Counselor Jen Guevara, analyze and consider a broad range of topics, including choices and decision making, how to be an ally for social justice, and healthy vs. unhealthy relationships. Mrs. Guevara believes the experiences her students gain in Lifeskills will enable them to "respect differing points of views and realize that they have a voice in world issues such as social justice, and that they can start to make a difference now as pre-teens."
Nick DeFelice, Acting Chair of the Science Department, is enthusiastically collaborating with Science faculty across the school to build upon the student experience. The objective, as Mr. DeFelice describes it, is to "teach students to think and work like scientists, as they engage in expanded opportunities for hands on work that is designed to allow students to ask questions, form hypotheses, design experiments, analyze data, form conclusions, and communicate findings as a way to learn the content and to demonstrate their understanding." King teachers are coaches, guiding students in their investigations and journey in learning about certain topics of the natural world.
Middle and Upper School's talented artists are collaborating this Fall to perform Bridges, a collection of powerful Readings centered on communication, connection, and identity. These themes are highly relevant to adolescents and young adults and certainly resonate during this pandemic as we all try to understand how meaningfully to communicate and connect.