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.
King hosted its sixth annual El Sistema Residency, in which talented musicians from King's Middle and Upper Schools collaborated in intensive music workshops with visiting students of various El Sistema USA programs, including Stamford's own Project Music.
The residency's overarching focus is to inspire a deeper connection between communities of different socioeconomic backgrounds by using music as a vehicle to give voice to diverse cultural identities and amplify lived experiences.
In celebration of Women's History Month, middle school advisories organized an appreciation for women by acknowledging the wonderful contributions made by women at King School. The advisors identified a woman at King, referred to as a celebrant, that they would like to get to know better and prepared questions for an interview with her. Information about the celebrant is then featured on a dedicated bulletin board.
Middle School students applied their creativity and resilience to maintain focus and learn in innovative ways during these unprecedented times. After almost a year of living in a "new normal," students from grades 6, 7, and 8 share their wisdom. "Be as respectful and kind as possible during times like these because we never know how deeply someone is hurting," said Siena Gambino '27.
"I think it is really interesting that we are learning about different people who were heroes before, during, and after the civil rights movement," states Middle School Co-President Anya Anderson '25. "We are trying to learn more about people who may not have been better known so that we can show greater respect for them," she adds.
Grade 6 student Alicia Leng and grade 8 student Olivia Asnes love to sing, but they also enjoy that choir includes non-singing activities. We also "learn how to read notes, find out if you are singing the correct pitch, and learn how music can impact the world," says Olivia.
Paddle tennis, basketball, field hockey, soccer, beach volleyball, creative movement, and more! Grade 7 student Jackson Dooley feels "the differentiation has been the best. There are so many sessions, that our choices and variety allow us to try new things and to still be with our classmates. It's great to still have Athletics during such difficult times."
Phoebe Lewis describes what she loves most about the King School Grade 6 history program as "learning so many new and exciting things about our world's past. Our class has open discussions and we work on fun projects with groups that make us understand the material in a better way. From our identity projects to being educated more about Africa, it was interesting and informative. We read about personal stories regarding immigrants to various countries and this allowed us to understand our lessons in an informative and meaningful way."
In preparation for Martin Luther King Jr. Day, the Middle School combined academic and advisory programming that explored issues of social justice and civil rights. Encouraging different perspectives, students debated Dr. King's impact on society during his lifetime and beyond.