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. As a general rule, we value face-to-face interactions and encourage parents to touch base with the classroom teachers at drop-off or pick-up and to arrange an in-person meeting if a longer conversation is warranted. Teachers may use email to send class newsletters or to convey time-sensitive information if they are unable to reach parents by phone, but all substantial teacher-parent communication happens in person or on the phone. Parents should not email teachers about arrival, dismissal or attendance—these and other routine communications should go directly to the division office. 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 questions or concerns, or would like to schedule a meeting or call 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 the grade dean for 9th graders, the 10th graders have a dean, and one grade dean works with the 11th and 12th graders. At the middle and high school levels, division heads have overarching responsibility for division policy and are also available to speak with parents. 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.
Parent/Guardian Conduct Policy
Partnership between parents/guardians and the broader Saint Ann’s community plays a critical role in maintaining the creative and intellectual freedoms that are central to our school. A collaborative and constructive relationship between the School and parents/guardians–one based on a shared commitment to respect, dignity, and equity–is essential in upholding the mission and values that we hold dear. Parents/guardians are expected to support the mission and the work of the School and should raise concerns in a respectful manner, which includes directing their concerns to the appropriate School employee(s).
In order to ensure that we can continue to provide an environment for all students, school employees, and families that is both productive and safe, the School has the right, at its sole discretion, to dismiss or discipline a student and/or to prohibit parents/guardians or other individuals closely affiliated with a student from participating in the School community if: (i) a parent/guardian or other individual closely affiliated with the student fails to cooperate with the School; (b) a parent/guardian or other individual closely affiliated with the student fails to abide by the rules and regulations of the School; (c) a parent/guardian is threatening, aggressive, disruptive, disrespectful or otherwise inconsistent with the commitments of the School community; or (d) the School determines that the continued involvement of a parent/guardian or other individual closely affiliated with the student is not in the best interests of the student or the School. Parents and guardians are expected to behave, communicate, and interact appropriately at all times on-campus, off-campus (including but not limited to during School-sponsored events) or via digital or electronic means (including, but not limited to, listservs or online forums).