While certain core values unite us as a school, from our smallest three-year-olds to our savviest graduating seniors, how they look in practice will of course vary along the way. This section has a few words on the administrative structure of the school, how it develops over time and how you’ll most often encounter it as a parent.
Divisions and Structure
Wherever your child joins us, they will be entering one of the six divisions of the school: the Preschool (“the threes” and “the fours”), the Kindergarten, the Lower School (grades 1-3), the Lower Middle School (grades 4-5), the Upper Middle School (grades 6-8) or the High School (grades 9-12).
Each division has a division head, and in the Upper Middle School and the High School the division head is further supported by an assistant head. The high school team also includes a pair of grade advisers, while there is one additional grade adviser in the Upper Middle School.
At Saint Ann’s, division heads and grade advisers are tasked with being aware of the developmental and current status of a given student from many perspectives, facilitating the student-teacher relationship, and managing the partnership between students, teachers and parents. There is no separate faculty-student advising system; the division head or grade adviser is the primary academic adviser.
The division head relationship requires some faith on the part of parents, and we take your trust seriously. Much thought, curation and, above all, love and respect for children goes into the work of the division head, who shapes and shepherds your child’s school experience.
One specific and deliberate aspect of Saint Ann’s theory and practice is that we ask parents to communicate information and concerns about their children through the relevant division office rather than calling, texting, or emailing individual teachers. This intentional structure supports our belief that the central relationship in the school is between teachers and students. As part of encouraging students’ intellectual development we want them to feel increasingly capable of managing that relationship, rather than expecting their parents to intervene. We also want our faculty to devote their time to the practice of teaching.
Parents play a vital role in supporting students’ school life in tandem with the division office. The division office serves as the primary point of contact to communicate with the school about your child. In turn, division heads and grade deans are in regular contact not only with your child’s teachers and tutors but with each other, with school psychologists and learning specialists, and with nurses and other support staff.
The assistants in division offices are the first responders; we encourage you to trust them and relay critical information and messages through them.
Division Offices Through the Years
Your interactions with division offices will, of course, vary depending on the age of your child.
In the Preschool, Kindergarten, and Lower School, students have the home base of a classroom led by a head teacher who is supported by an associate teacher. For a time, drop-off and pick-up happen in the classroom, where parents may occasionally chat about their child with the classroom teachers. Teachers sometimes send letters home in student backpacks about class activities. At this stage the division office may be a less frequent feature of your interactions with the school, but it remains a key part of the relationship between parents and teachers. If you would like to schedule a meeting with your child’s teacher(s) please contact the division office.
Beginning in Lower Middle School (4th and 5th grades) the structure of the student experience shifts. Students no longer have a home classroom. Instead, a fully departmentalized structure brings them from teacher to teacher for each subject throughout the day. From fourth grade on, all communication from parents about students goes through the hub of the advising division head and the division office. Click here to read more about the transition from Lower School to Middle School at Saint Ann’s.
In the Lower Middle School, the division head serves at the academic adviser for both the 4th and 5th grades. When they reach Upper Middle School (6th-8th grades) and then High School (9th-12th grades), students are assigned a grade dean who becomes the point person for both the student and their family. The Head of the Upper Middle School serves as the academic adviser for 8th graders. She is supported by two grade deans who work with 7th and 8th graders. In the High School, the Head and the Assistant Head share advising duties for 9th graders, while 10th graders have their own grade dean and a fourth team member works with both the 11th and 12th grades. At the middle and high school levels, division heads have overarching responsibility for policy and are also available to speak with parents at any time. Division offices are rounded out with office support staff who may be the first people to answer a call or help locate a missing backpack.
In addition to calls and emails about attendance or academic concerns, division offices and grade deans welcome any information from parents that might affect a student’s life at school. From changes in after school plans to changes in family structure, a new address or a health crisis at home, the division office is the place to call with anything you want the school to know about your child or to ask for any support you need from us. Put simply, division heads, grade deans and office assistants are here to help.