Middle School

Higher academics with a creative voice.

The plans to expand our Middle School are in full swing. While we have had a middle school enrichment program for years, with the 2022-2023 school year, we have begun our three-year plan for building and integrating a robust daily middle school. This year we added 6th grade. Next, we add 7th and 8th in the following two school years, respectively.

City Garden School’s middle school program grows out of the existing elementary school. Inspired by a Waldorf curriculum and outdoor focus, students in grades 6 - 8 reap the benefits of this holistic approach.

CGS provides an intellectually rigorous, art- integrated curriculum that gives purpose and passion to our budding adolescents. At such a crucial time of education, we work to instill meaning in daily lessons and ignite the fire of thinking in our students.

Students and families finally have a robust, alternative model of middle school education from which to choose in the city of Columbia.

Our middle school curriculum honors students’ whole experience of their expanding world and finding their place in it. Every aspect of learning is designed to stretch students to explore a topic through several modalities, thereby increasing the depth of learning rather than just a surface approach or memorizing. This multi-faceted approach also helps students learn about themselves and their own learning styles.

Our middle school students focus their studies through the Main Lesson. Main Lessons are taught in blocks based on one topic and usually last three to five weeks, for two hours a day. Block scheduling allows teachers and students to focus on a particular academic area intensively. Material is presented in various styles, allowing time to examine connections to other disciplines and incorporate the arts. Each day, in addition to the Main Lesson, students have classes taught by specialized subject teachers culminating in a fully-rounded education that develops the whole child.

True to our outdoor focus, middle school students are outside every Friday with the rest of the City Garden School community. Lessons on Fridays continue and have a more hands-on focus. Two nature intensives, one in the fall and one in the spring, bring a field experience to our science blocks, where students study geology, ecology, botany, and biology in the woods of Camp Takimina.

*CGS Middle School classroom

*Middle School students spend a lot of time outdoors

Middle School Subjects

  • History

  • Geography

  • Science

  • Math

  • Language Arts

  • Fine Arts

  • Theater Technology & Cyber Civics

  • Handwork

  • Woodwork

  • Spanish

  • Cooperative Games & Sports

  • Music & Strings

The CGS Strategy

The curriculum in middle school honors students’ whole experience of their expanding world and finding their place in it. Every aspect of learning in the middle school curriculum is designed to stretch students to explore a topic through several modalities, thereby increasing the depth of learning rather than just a surface approach or memorizing.

This multi-faceted approach also helps students learn about themselves, their own learning style, and allows them to explore aspects of themselves they might not explore otherwise. For example, students study mechanics in seventh grade by exploring and creating mechanical structures, calculating mechanical advantage with math, and expressing the salient points of experiments through writing and drawing. When studying the industrial revolution, eighth grade students learn through stories about people and events that spark the imagination, and even perhaps through a dramatic production in which the class will engage.

In addition to strong academics, City Garden's Middle School curriculum is designed to provide the skills our students will need to make their way in our increasingly interconnected world: the ability to adapt to unfamiliar situations, to find answers when they are not readily apparent, and to become independent learners and flexible problem solvers who can think critically, collaborate effectively, manage their time, and live ethically.

Our students spend a large amount of time outdoors, seeing, feeling, smelling... experiencing a world of wonder. We focus on integrating real experiences with academic ideas to develop a deep understanding of those ideas in a practical way.

Students work toward high school by:

  • Honing their observational skills and concentration for longer periods with increasingly complex assignments.

  • Exploring digital technology through our Cyber Civics curriculum; learning about its healthy use while considering social and philosophical impacts.

  • Mentoring younger students and working with adult mentors on special projects.

  • Taking academic tests, receiving grades on their work, and experiencing feedback through periodic academic reports detailing strengths and challenges.

A day in the life of the middle school student:

  • Thoughtful, in-depth morning lesson blocks spanning three to four weeks at a time.

  • Immersive study of Spanish language and culture.

  • Additional lessons in language arts, math, music & strings, art, handwork & sewing, and woodworking, and cyber civics.

  • Structured and unstructured time in nature.

  • Team sports & games encourage the practice of healthy cooperation and competition.

  • Social settings that build authenticity & respect for peers as diverse individuals.

The middle school program encompasses students in grades 6, 7, and 8 who take classes together. In order to serve the social needs of this age group, students will not be confined to classes in their own grade. Two full time teachers will teach main lesson blocks and special subject classes and one part time math teacher will teach math main lessons and skills classes.


  • Sixth and seventh graders may take a physics block together while eighth graders learn about the American Revolution.

  • Seventh and eighth graders may take a chemistry block together while sixth graders learn about Ancient Rome.

  • Sixth and eighth graders might take a geometry block together while seventh graders study the Renaissance.

Slow Tech

Preparing students to engage with and impact the world around them is one of our primary goals. With this in mind, preparing our students for responsible, healthy technology engagement is a critical curriculum component to prepare students to navigate the world.

We nurture critical thinking, creativity, and adaptability in our students. We believe the foundation for these capacities is best laid in an early childhood and grades 1-5 curriculum, free of technology in our classrooms. Instead, we focus on honing the students’ skills with pencil and paper.

Because we understand and believe technology and media are prevalent and important forces in the world today, we introduce our Cyber Civics program in 6th grade. Students begin working with technology as a tool while learning to question and navigate ethical, responsible technology use and media engagement.

Expected Outcome

When CGS students emerge from their eighth-grade year, they will move into high schools with Strong academic skills, confidence and creativity, self-assurance, and a will to serve their community. With a curiosity for learning and compassion for others, CGS students will shine. The end of their middle school journey will include a foundation built of care and compassion, creativity and confidence, and this serves as a fortification for the years ahead. Our world needs students like this now more than ever, as they will be called upon to solve problems we have not yet imagined.