Our Middle School offers a comprehensive academic program that focuses on mastery of core academic subjects, exploration of new interests, and personal growth. Understanding the unique characteristics of pre-teens and adolescents, Middle School teachers place special emphasis on the values of community, empathy, and healthy decision-making. Through elective courses in the fine and performing arts, in-school clubs and after-school activities, students can further develop existing interests, explore new opportunities, and take on leadership roles. Our Middle School is a joyful and productive place, where students thrive academically, emotionally, and socially. 


Curricular Highlights

List of 10 items.

  • Fine Arts

    Fine art courses are exploratory and introductory, designed to ignite interest and engage students in a variety of topics. In fifth and sixth grade, all students take Studio Art and Woodworking for one semester each, with classes meeting twice each week. In seventh and eighth grades, students can choose two electives per year in the fine arts, including Studio Art, Sculpture & Ceramics, Woodworking, and CAD (computer-aided design).
  • Health & Wellness

    Health & Wellness classes for all Middle School students take place once a week. The curriculum addresses the specific emotional, physical, and social needs of middle-school-aged students. Topics vary by grade level and are designed to help students make healthy choices.
  • History

    The Middle School history curriculum is rooted in the fundamental skills of critical reading, writing, note taking, classroom dialogue, and research. In fifth and sixth grade, students study ancient history, beginning with Mesopotamia and going through with the Middle Ages. In seventh and eighth grade, they study American history from its foundations through the Civil Rights Era. In eighth grade, our teachers introduce the Facing History and Ourselves framework, which helps students understand the choices that shaped history. 
  • English / Language Arts

    The Middle School English /language arts program nurtures a love of reading and writing, while also giving students a comprehensive foundation in grammar, spelling, and vocabulary. Because reading and writing are essential to academic success in a range of subjects, English / language arts classes meet six times each week for fifth- and sixth-grade students and seven times each week for seventh- and eighth-grade students. In addition to reading literature for their courses, students are also required to read independently throughout the Middle School. In addition, teachers work in conjunction with the Middle School Library to help students develop their research skills.
  • Mathematics

    Throughout Middle School, an emphasis is placed on mastery of mathematical concepts so that students are fully prepared for increasingly advanced work. The Middle School math curriculum transitions seamlessly from the Singapore Math program, which culminates in fifth grade into pre-algebra. From there, most seventh and eighth graders study algebra over the course of two years, an in-depth study of the subject that allows them to master the skills for success in Upper School math. Alternately, some of our students opt into the accelerated sequence, taking Algebra I in seventh grade and Geometry in eighth grade. 
  • Performing Arts

    Beyond the simple joy of taking part in a production, students engaged with the performing arts are more self-confident and better able to present their ideas to others. They learn firsthand how to collaborate and push beyond their comfort zone to discover and develop talents they may not have known they possessed. From concerts, jazz band, singing groups, plays, and musicals, Middle School students have ample opportunity to explore the performing arts. Every student in fifth and sixth grade has music class twice each week. In seventh and eighth grade, students choose among electives in drama, music and the fine arts. Recent Middle School musical productions include Once On This Island and Honk.
  • Research and Presentation

    At each grade level, students undertake research projects under the direction of the Middle School Librarian. In addition to exploring a topic in depth, students learn to evaluate sources and develop skills in note-taking, outlining, and critical writing. Core subject teachers work in coordination with the librarian to ensure consistency in the process across grade levels. The Middle School uses NoodleTools platform to help with student organization and collaboration.

    Students at each grade level develop public speaking and presentation skills, learning to become more comfortable expressing their ideas and more confident responding to questions. Presentations are woven into coursework throughout the curriculum and events, such as the Science Symposium and Roman Day afford students further opportunities to share their work in front of teachers and peers. Advisory groups and monthly Town Hall Meetings also provide space for students to share their ideas and opinions within larger groups. Through frequent group discussions, students learn not only how to express their own ideas, but also how to express dissent constructively and to demonstrate respect for the ideas and opinions of others.
  • Science

    Grounded in next-generation science skills, the science program in the Middle School challenges and engages students with exploratory and lab-based learning. Science class meets every day beginning in fifth grade, and topics introduced are revisited throughout Middle School with increasing complexity each year. The fifth-grade STREAMS initiative brings together work in sustainability, technology, research, engineering, agriculture, math and service, while emphasizing the skills of collaboration, problem-solving and cross-disciplinary thinking. In STREAMS and throughout the Middle School curriculum, teachers utilize the natural resources of our 208-acre campus—including gardens, ponds, streams, and a working farm—to complement classroom learning. 
  • Technology

    Our Middle School teaches cutting-edge technological skills in coordination with informational literacy and Internet safety, so that students can effectively and safely navigate an increasingly digital world. Technology is integrated throughout the curriculum and in coordination with core subject teachers. Weekly technology classes give students the chance to code, design web pages, and program robots. In addition, weekly Makerspace classes give students opportunities to design, explore, and innovate using 3-D printers, Arduino boards, Lego Mindstorms, and basic building materials. 
  • World Languages

    Our Middle School world languages program offers study in French, Latin, or Spanish. In addition to language instruction, each course introduces students to the corresponding culture through film, newspapers, and literature. Throughout fifth and sixth grade, students learn the fundamentals of the language—functional communication, vocabulary, and grammar. In seventh and eighth grades, students embark on a two-year course that is the equivalent of a Level I high-school course. The slower pacing allows students to master the material and begin Upper School at the intermediate level. Outside the classroom, students participate in field trips and other activities that emphasize the cultural elements of the language they study. 

List of 4 items.

  • Virtue of the Month

    Each month, the Middle School holds “town meetings,” where students and faculty discuss happenings in the school and focus on a specific value or “virtue of the month,” such as honesty, integrity, or respect. As a community, we take time to think about, not simply what those values are, but how they might play out in our daily lives. For the next month, we actively build upon and revisit those initial discussions in our assemblies, classes, and day-to-day interactions.
  • Middle School Community Statement

    The Middle School Community Statement was drafted by eighth-grade students to distill the school’s mission statement and honor code. It reads, “As a member of the GSB community, I will respect and honor my peers, strive for excellence, and help my community grow & flourish.” The Community Statement is prominently displayed in the front entrance of Conover and is re-affirmed each year by every member of the Middle School.
  • Community Service

    Our students drive our community service efforts. Gill Middle School students have raised over $15,000 for over 15 different organizations.
  • Town Meetings

    Each month, Middle School students participate in Town Meetings. These meetings are opportunities for the Middle School community to gather and discuss the Virtue of the Month or other character education-related topics. This is also a time to host speakers and conduct Student Government.

The World is Our Classroom

  • Tapping maple trees for syrup
  • Raising trout from fry and releasing them into our stream
  • Monitoring the stream, taking water samples, and observing micro-invertebrates
  • Raising and releasing endangered Monarch Butterflies
  • Studying plant cells from vegetables harvested in the garden
Gill St. Bernard’s is a private, coeducational day school for students age three through grade 12, located in suburban New Jersey. Each of the three school divisions provides a rigorous, meaningful, and age-appropriate curriculum, and all students benefit from the environmental learning opportunities that exist on our 208-acre campus.