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 our larger divisions the structure may also include an assistant or associate division head and/or individual grade deans who work in tandem with the division head.
At Saint Ann’s, division heads and grade deans 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 dean 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 in coordination with their divisional office colleagues.
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 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. In our lower divisions, the division head serves as the primary academic adviser for all students. If you would like to schedule a meeting with your child’s teacher(s) please contact the division office rather than emailing, calling, or texting individual teachers.
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. All communication from parents about students goes through the hub of the advising division head or grade dean 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 is supported by three grade deans who work with 6th, 7th, and 8th graders respectively. In the High School, the Assistant Head also serves as grade dean for 9th graders, while 10th and 11th graders have one grade dean and a fourth team member works with the 12th grade. 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 additional administrative 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 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, the teams in division offices throughout the school are here to help.