The Nursery to eighth grade advantage

A historic commitment

above: at a recent Classroom Visiting Day, Middle School director Gabe Burnstein gave a passionate master class on the power of Gordon's Nursery to eighth grade model.


Gordon has a historic commitment to the nursery to eighth grade model, as the one that best serves the educational, social and emotional needs of children. The school’s child-centered approach and multicultural curriculum were developed in order to take full advantage of this structure.
By not having a high school, Gordon focuses on the particular needs of elementary school students. Teachers challenge students to produce their best work without the presence of older students.
For students, the result is an atmosphere where children are allowed to be children, in the best possible sense, until they graduate from eighth grade, joyously experiencing the full range of challenges and rewards that these eleven years have to offer.
The scale of the school allows for continuity throughout the academic program. Transitions between grades, and divisions, are handled with great care and communication, creating a path for each child where they are supported by the adult community and challenged in age-appropriate ways.
The nursery to eighth grade structure allows Gordon to connect children across age levels, promoting a schoolwide sense of community, and making key social skills like empathy and kindness part of the day-to-day experience. Every year, each second, third and fourth grader is paired up with a younger student for a variety of activities from September to June. In Middle School, the four grades come together regularly through electives, assemblies, and extracurricular activities such as athletics, music and theater.

Lynn Bowman
Assistant Head of School

The Middle School students are Gordon’s oldest students, and their experience recognizes that fact. In student government, on-campus service learning, and in mixed-grade projects, Middle School students discover many ways to be a leader.
Without high school students on campus, Gordon’s Middle School students take more risks, try more activities, and acquire new interests and skills. Students work alongside a wide range of peers every day, and after school athletics and theater are open to all. By the time Gordon students graduate from eighth grade, they are self-assured individuals who have the confidence required to make full use of their academic skills in the years ahead.