Q&A with Dr. Josh Deitch
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.