Birnbaum/Klein Family: Why We Chose TCS for Middle School

Amy Birnbaum and Adam Klein, parents to Hannah (grade 7) and Oliver (grade 4) explain why they chose TCS six years ago and why they’re choosing TCS again for the 2020-21 school year!

Our family has been at TCS for six years. We began when our oldest daughter, Hannah, was in the first grade after our public elementary school had temporarily closed for renovations. We were introduced to the community through the eyes – and on the wings – of former first-grade teachers Wilma and Amanda.

During our first parent-teacher conference, after listening to Wilma and Amanda describe Hannah in such perfect detail – from her learning style to her personality, to how she managed her friendships – we knew we had found the right school because it placed such a high value and importance on completely knowing our child.

That care and attention carried with us through all of Hannah’s elementary grades, as well as through our younger son, Oliver’s, experiences at TCS. What has always remained constant at TCS is our children’s love of learning, their kindness and care of others, their excitement to go to school (almost) every day, and their unshakable self-confidence and sense of self.

So, when the time came to make a decision about middle school for Hannah, we couldn’t imagine actively leaving an environment that gave us all of that. Our confidence in the administration and teaching staff, our belief in a project-based learning (PBL)-centered curriculum, and our desire to keep our daughter younger for longer made the decision an easy one for us.

Last year, the sixth grade had innovation, a willingness from the students and staff to try new things, entrepreneurship, and a safe and supportive transition to being the “older kids.” This year, seventh grade feels powerful, focused, and strong. Like Hannah, we can’t wait for eighth grade next year!

Highlights for Hannah (and us), so far:

  • The World Peace Game. Learning how to negotiate, manage budgets, contemplate seemingly unsolvable problems, and providing our dinner table with endless conversation

  • An unfathomable amount of complex reading assignments. The students are not just reading challenging books of varied topics, but also learning how to annotate them while reading

  • Massive amounts of writing assignments. Almost high-school level papers are being demanded of them, where they have to compare and contrast characters from different novels

  • Working in groups and working solo. PBL doesn’t mean exclusive group work, it means an intentional combination of collaboration and independent learning.

  • Cool Science Experiments, like tracking the growth of plants and more!

  • Responsive teachers who follow our kids’ questions and passions to extend their knowledge base, like when Mt. Everest came up while studying another subject and their teacher created a mini-geography so students could appreciate the full context of Mt. Everest’s location and landscape.

  • Very Hard Math! We are excited to see not just algebra but also geometry and early calculus in our house. (Though, it’s also embarrassing how quickly we, as parents, have become completely useless resources)

Hannah and Oliver take on new challenges, continue to build strong friendships, have close relationships with TCS teachers and faculty, and pursue things that interest and excite them. Being in a smaller, more attentive community has opened up opportunities for our children that they otherwise would not have experienced.

We can’t imagine a better place for our kids to have spent their elementary and middle school years. We feel certain that they are poised, prepped, and confident to enter their next phases of education.