Program

  • Early Childhood: Pre-K-K
  • Elementary: Grades 1-6
  • Middle School: Grades 7 & 8
  • Before and After School Care
  • After School Enrichment Programs
  • School Vacation Programs
  • osp13_14_7
    Touchstone Community School’s Older Student Program (OSP), for students ages 12 to 15, offers an education that builds on individual and group learning while preparing students for success in high school and beyond. Theme-based learning at this level gives students an opportunity to pursue their passions, refine their research skills, and develop their ability to think critically. Our goal is to produce actively involved, responsible, conceptually strong students with deep skills who are ready to take on new challenges and opportunities.

    Approach to learning

    Three full-time teachers, one focused on literacy, one on the humanities and another  on math and science, teach our program. Together they create a curriculum–designed to be delivered over the course of a two-year period–that remains integrated while increasing the depth and complexity of instruction.

    The humanities work encompasses core studies in ancient civilizations and extended literacy skills in reading, writing, and oral presentation. Students will choose, in collaboration with their teacher, focus areas to study in depth; studies integrate research, visual and performing arts, and experimentation, culminating with written and oral reports, demonstrations, and presentations designed to teach others as well as showcase a student’s progress.

    During literacy instruction, students write extensively and learn to make meaningful revisions, with the focus on bringing the finished work to publication. Reading skills encompass fiction and nonfiction, with explorations across many genres, and with the goal of deep comprehension and critical analysis.

    Our science curriculum is lab based; students design and carry out experiments in an environment of precision and safety, collect and analyze accurate data, form and test conclusions, develop and refine lab reports, and participate in discussions and demonstrations to show depth of understanding and reflection. Our goal is to spark a lifelong passion for science in each student, fueled by engagement with laboratory and inquiry experiences that are exciting, challenging, and satisfying.

    Science, math, and literacy skills are closely entwined, providing students with both hands-on experience and flexibility in applying one academic area to another.

    The mathematics program aligns both content and skills with the standards defined by the National Council for Teaching Mathematics (NCTM). We prepare students for the advanced mathematics of high school while giving them a deep understanding so that they may use their skills to solve quantitative problems in their lives outside of school.

    We teach pre-algebra, algebra, and geometry, and we have the ability to work with students into advanced algebra (the math work typically done by high school freshmen).

    Integrated arts

    Our integrated arts program weaves fine arts, music, drama, dance, and movement into thematic studies, and our students explore each of these disciplines in depth as part of an overall arts education. We honor creation and experimentation within the arts; we also honor the work of revision, rehearsal, and reflection. We place value on all aspects of art–art that is personal and for an audience, art that is impromptu or polished, folk traditions, and formal theory. Artwork is displayed at all stages. Performances may be improvised or rehearsed extensively; musical arrangements might be sung as written or emerge from the group’s experience of singing together. In this way, we encourage the interrelationships of artistic vision, audience awareness, and cultural history. Most of all, however, we encourage the joy of being engaged in the arts.

    Spanish

    Spanish instruction is guided by the National Standards for Foreign Language Learning with its emphasis on “communication, cultures, connections, comparisons, and communities.” The program reviews basic vocabulary and builds upon it while introducing grammatical concepts and an in-depth view of Hispanic/Latin American cultures–history, folklore, traditions, music, food, celebrations, and contemporary issues. Students are encouraged to speak, listen, read, and compose in Spanish.

    Physical education and wellness

    Our physical education classes provide activities designed to initiate physical, social, emotional, and intellectual growth. These include elements of play, critical thinking, and fitness in an environment geared toward enhancing each student’s personal success through group involvement.

    Our wellness program is integrated with physical education and expands the concepts of physical health and safety to mental health and safety. Understanding and managing stress, fitness and nutrition, healthy choices and substance abuse prevention, relationships, friendships, and sexuality are some of the content areas covered. The core of our program is based on open, safe, inclusive, and meaningful conversations between adults and adolescents.

    Outdoor education

    We place a particular emphasis on time spent outdoors, and when we speak of “outdoor education,” it refers to many things: organized ropes and challenge courses, active participation in our extensive gardening program, scientific inquiry of the natural world, and time spent outside at recess.

    The class takes two yearly hiking trips, using the Appalachian Mountain Club facilities in New Hampshire’s White Mountains. These trips bring together several important aspects of our curriculum, including social, emotional, and physical health. In addition, students gain skills like map reading and safe stream-crossing techniques, as well as leadership experience and increased self-confidence.

    Assessment

    Assessment of students is done by observation, individual conferencing between teacher and student, and ongoing portfolio development. Progress is communicated through conferences and two written reports per year. Parent-teacher or portfolio conferences are scheduled four times per year and are also available upon request throughout the school year.

    Each conference serves a different function. During conferences, teachers and parents review each student’s progress and set goals. Students at this level are included directly in the assessment process and share the responsibility for setting goals as well as presenting their portfolios.

    School day, extended care

    The school day begins at 8:30 a.m. and runs until 3:00 p.m. Morning care, beginning at 7:30 a.m., and afternoon care, from 3:00 p.m. to 6:00 p.m., is available for an additional fee.

    Our extended-day program (EDP) offers a variety of activities, free time, homework time, and healthy snacks. In addition to before- and after-school care, we run programs during the school year on curriculum days (when there are no classes and teachers plan curriculum) and during the February and April school vacation weeks. An after-school enrichment program providing instruction in music, the visual arts, and athletics is generally available at school during EDP for additional fees.

    Students bring their lunches, drinks, and snacks from home.

    Admission process

    We seek students from across the region with diverse backgrounds who will benefit from and contribute to our school community. We seek students who are committed to learning, who are eager to participate in partner, small-group, whole-group, and individual projects, and who are willing to actively engage every day. Our students are receptive to feedback, attentive to their teachers and peers, and willing to try new things. They are willing to work hard to find answers yet are able to approach problem solving in playful ways. While our teachers spend one-on-one time with their students every day, students are expected to work independently and with peers when their teacher is working with other students.

    Once parents submit an application, students are invited to participate within a classroom of peers. At this level, the visit is one full day, sometimes two.

    We require progress reports and feedback from a student’s current school and teacher. These materials need to be sent directly from the school.

    Admission decisions are usually made within two weeks of the student visit, provided that all necessary materials have been received.

     

    Books we recommend to parents of middle school children:

    • Get Out of My Life, but First Could You Drive Me & Cheryl to the Mall: A Parent’s Guide to the New Teenager, Revised and Updated
      by Anthony E. Wolf
    • Learning how to kiss a frog: Advice for those who work with pre- and early adolescents
      by James P Garvin
    • How to Talk So Kids Will Listen and Listen So Kids Will Talk (How to Help Your Child)
      by Adele Faber and Elaine Mazlish