Why Northside?

The Advantage of a Northside Nursery through Eighth Grade Education

Williamsburg Northside School specializes in the foundational years. Our highly qualified teachers use their content knowledge and expertise of developmental needs of early childhood and young adolescent learners to design a student-centered, inquiry based curriculum from preschool through eighth grade. 

Children who arrive at Northside at 2 years old and graduate in 8th grade have the opportunity to grow and progress in a nurturing and warm school community for twelve years. Our model allows us to provide a program that celebrates childhood, and as a result, our students and families are able to focus on the present by celebrating all of the joys of childhood.

Student-Centered

Students begin their journey with inquiry based learning at Northside’s Reggio Inspired Preschool. We believe that children are naturally creative and curious, and our emergent curriculum, which is co-constructed by students and teachers, cultivates a lifelong passion for learning. Students develop their personal interests during these early years, which lays a solid foundation as they continue on into our K-8 program.

Our elementary and middle school interdisciplinary curriculum is practiced through authentic project-based work that incorporates students’ choice and addresses real world experiences and problems. At every grade level, students begin to appreciate the connection between their project-based work and intended learning objectives.

We guide children on their educational journey in a healthy, safe, and supportive environment that fosters the development of strong, continuous peer and teacher relationships that allow children to feel comfortable to be their authentic selves, are intimately known, take intellectual risks and achieve their full potential. 

Our evidence suggests that, on average, students do worse academically when they attend middle schools than when they attend K–8 schools — and that this is true in urban, suburban, and rural settings."

 Martin West - Professor of Education at the Harvard Graduate School of Education

Small Class Size

As a result of our 6:1 student-teacher ratio, teachers are able to get to know the whole child. Teachers devote more time to individual students by regularly meeting with them one on one or through small group instruction to guide their learning and provide personalized,  timely, and responsive feedback for students to reach their potential. This also allows for differentiation to meet each child where they are academically, socially, and emotionally. Each child is encouraged to actively participate in class activities and discussions by sharing their ideas and perspectives. All children are seen, heard, and valued as a member of the learning community. 

Further insights on the Benefits of Small Class Sizes

Our students flourish academically, socially, and emotionally at a developmentally appropriate pace. They tend to have a higher sense of self-esteem and confidence, which can contribute to a healthier adolescent development. 

Empowering Future Leaders

Our program provides students with various leadership opportunities. Research shows that students in PreK–8 schools express interest in leadership roles at a younger age. At WNS, our students take advantage of a wide range of academic, athletic, and service leadership opportunities. 

By the time our students enter eighth grade, they have a strong sense of self, both as learners and as members of society. Our students are well prepared for their transition to high school and take an active role in identifying high schools where they will thrive.

Social Emotional Learning in the 2s, 3s & PreK

Social Emotional Learning is the backbone of all the work we do at the Preschool campus. From the beginning of their preschool journey in the 2s program through to their PreK year, children are guided by thoughtful and responsive teachers to identify, understand, articulate and act on the many different feelings that all people experience each and every single day. The teachers in our 2s, 3s and PreK classes share the deep-seated understanding that young children are people first and foremost who are deserving of adults’ respect.

The preschool works to cultivate a climate of respect, attentiveness and consideration of others to best help our children grow into caring, empathetic and responsible people, in every classroom and in our building in general. Also at the preschool, the emergent project work we do ensures that teachers and classes always have flexibility built into the structure of their learning to be responsive to children’s specific social and emotional needs and interests. 

All preschool classes follow the Responsive Classroom model of meeting as a group to start each day with an Assembly. Assemblies, or Morning Meetings for our PreK students, are important community meetings where children receive individual attention and recognition daily, and where a wealth of SEL learning happens all at once, at every age. During the 2s year a great deal of time in Assembly is spent identifying and discussing emotions and feelings.

Teachers use the time to model emotional vocabulary and suggest developmentally appropriate strategies for regulating one’s emotions both individually and as a group. These practices include teaching whole-body listening, simple self-soothing strategies, and calming breathing and movement exercises. In the 3s year, the focus of Assemblies shifts focus toward the development of the classroom community and the role each child plays it.

Citizens of the classroom work together to create community agreements and outline classroom expectations. By the time our students enter their PreK year, they are called on to carry out much of the skills and responsibilities established in the 2s and 3s independently. Within their social interactions, PreK students are challenged to participate in scaffolded moments problem-solving and conflict resolution with their peers, providing them with the foundation for  successful, cooperative learning experiences throughout the school year and beyond! 

Social Emotional Learning K-8

We nurture the social emotional development of our students throughout the day in and out of the classroom. Teachers intentionally plan for social emotional learning and respond in the moment as situations arise organically. We help students to understand themselves and others, to manage their emotions productively, to empathize with others, to forge healthy relationships, to work toward and achieve academic, social, and emotional goals, to make responsible decisions, and to develop resilience, confidence, and well-being.

All of our teachers are trained in the best practices of Responsive Classroom. The Responsive Classroom approach is research based and emphasizes the social, emotional, and academic growth in a safe school environment. 

At our K-8 campus, we fully implement practices from the Responsive Classroom approach, which include the Morning Meeting Book in the Lower School, the Responsive Advisory Meeting Book in the Middle School, and the Power of Our Words K-8.

Students who attend a middle school compared to a K-8 school are likely to have a lower perception of their reading skills."

NYU Steinhardt School of Culture, Education, and Human Development

Teaching & Learning

Students in Kindergarten through Grade 4 begin their day with Morning Meeting and students in Grades 5 – 8 begin their day with Advisory by participating in conversations and group activities that nurture the development of social and emotional skills. Children engage in a variety of age-appropriate learning experiences, including activities, reflections, role-playing, collaborative projects, and mindfulness practices. Under the guidance of their teachers, students build their capacity for and learn about concepts, such as active listening, cooperation, effective communication, responsibility, empathy, emotion regulation, self-awareness, conflict resolution, friendship, group dynamics, growth mindset, metacognition, among others. We practice a common language and a caring approach to respond to students’ needs.

Ample research has indicated that children in smaller classes achieve better outcomes, both academic and otherwise, and that class size reduction can be an effective strategy for closing racially or socioeconomically based achievement gaps."

Student Support

At Williamsburg Northside School, our mission is to promote true learning based on specifically identified needs, and provide high quality interventions, in Reading, Writing and Mathematics, where all students are empowered to reach their individual potential, and trust their unique abilities.

The Student Support Team or SST works with students, both directly and indirectly, to provide academic and emotional support. At the same time, SST works closely with classroom teachers and faculty members to implement strategies that promote academic success. We offer responses to student needs like: Reading intervention programs,  Math enrichment groups, and Writing Mechanics support. 

A student who has been identified with a diagnosed learning disability, a formal learning plan is put into place by the Student Support Team with detailed strategies, data driven interventions and accommodations for the classroom and home. The level of support varies by division. Eligible students work with the learning specialist and/or the school psychologist to develop academic skills and socio-emotional (or behavioral) strategies. 

In the Middle School, Northside encourages and helps students develop self-awareness and self-advocacy skills. Students monitor their own understanding and ask questions as they take ownership of their learning and personal learning goals.

When students find themselves facing academic challenges, we encourage them to reach out to their teachers for extra help. Seeking this help is an important part of the skills Middle-schoolers need to develop as some can be shy about approaching adults for assistance.

These extra help meetings may happen individually or in small groups, led by the learning specialist, may be done during study hall periods, and/or available times led by subject area teachers or advisors. If needed, teachers arrange meetings with students before or after school.