Middle School

Middle School at Northern Light (grades 6-8) is a time when students embrace increased independence, new leadership roles, and heightened academic rigor. Northern Light’s middle school program stands out for its focus not only on academic excellence, but on character development as well.  Our Impossible is Nothing speaker series, in which community and business leaders come to NLS to share their stories with our students, inspires our students to persevere in pursuit of their dreams.  Middle school students get a chance to further develop character and sportsmanship on the athletic field through our successful flag football, basketball, and volleyball teams.
Indeed, service to the community is a crucial part of the middle school experience.  In the past, students have sorted medical supplies to be sent to Peru, penned letters to active military officers, and wrote and performed anti-bullying skits for younger students.  When High School admissions officers consider a Northern Light student, they know that they are looking at a student who will be more than an A-student – they are looking at someone who will be a kind, considerate, and engaged member of their school community.  It is for this reason – just as much as grades or tests scores – that Northern Light students go on to matriculate from some of the finest Independent and Parochial schools in the Bay Area and eventually from top colleges and universities across the country.

Middle school is a time when students are engaged in developing their identities, building meaningful friendships and connections with their peers, and learning about their emotions and how to communicate. It is also a time when engagement in academics is crucial to success in high school, college, and beyond.

Our English Language Arts classes (ELA for short) are designed to support learners in their journey into adolescence and young adulthood. We focus on four core principles in our curriculum and pedagogy: Empowerment, Opportunity, Support for Strength, and Collaborative Engagement. Each one of these principles guides our instruction and intentional classroom design to bring out the very best in each and every student so that the classroom (both physical and digital) is a challenging, exciting, and inviting place to learn and grow.

Empowerment - Students are provided with the platform to know that the work they are doing matters, is acknowledged and is relevant to their identity and lives. The middle school ELA curriculum at Northern Light School is antiracist and highlights works by BIPoC authors. This curriculum, specially designed and created for Northern Light School's middle school students by Ms. C focuses on engagement through observation and interpretation of text so students can further refine their own ideas and understandings of a text. Students gain a sense of control over their own learning and begin to develop into critical, independent, courageous thinkers.

Opportunity - Designed to offer multiple entry points for diverse learners with different gifts, needs, and talents, the middle school ELA curriculum at Northern Light incorporates differentiated strategies, modified prompts, and daily practice and reinforcement of core skills. Every student has the opportunity to complete work and assignments that can be tailored and engineered to challenge them at their own unique level of proficiency.

Support for Strength - Middle schoolers are aware of their strengths and opportunities for growth. By providing resources that they can seek out when they're unsure or need extra support, true moments of engagement are established. Utilizing encouraging and actionable feedback, and working to build a classroom culture of positive, constructive critique benefits student growth and achievement.

Collaborative Engagement - All students learn differently--some read the text to understand; some need to hear it; some need to see it; some even need to act it out! By providing multiple ways for students to interact with the subject matter and text, language can be processed through many distinct pathways. The middle school ELA classroom at Northern Light uses drama, debate, and performance to motivate and engage students together. Each avenue of understanding a text demonstrates something special about language and words: with drama, students learn the importance of emotion and subtlety; with debate, the see the value in evidence and argument; and with performance, they can exercise the muscle of their brain that analyzes text, meaning, and purpose.


The Northern Light School Spanish Language curriculum has been created to provide a coordinated approach to the development of communication skills. Reading and writing skills are introduced as students progress in oral language comprehension. Students learn to communicate in a ddlmpractical, conversational manner.  The ultimate goal is to give students the tools necessary to eventually create their own conversations with little or no teacher guidance. Classes are taught around 50% in Spanish. Instructional strategies and learning activities are culturally-based and include the following:  reciting, asking and answering questions, repeating, listening, singing, drawing, dancing, observing, playing games, writing and role-playing. Spanish for sixth through eighth grade builds upon the foundation that students have received thus far. This course focuses on moving students from short phrases to more conversational Spanish language skills. 

Service learning and civic engagement is central to Northern Light’s mission. Student Council is designed to to support youth-led leadership, problem solving, and activism at Northern Light School, and in our local and global communities. While some of Student Council will focus on dialogue, we will also engage in projects and activities that highlight the perspectives, realities, and stories of our fantastic students. Ultimately, we know that by empowering student voice, students will feel a greater sense of ownership over their own experiences in school – both virtually and in-person.