Glenville School’s approaches to learning and community are effective in preparing students from K-5 for success in middle school and success as a member of our community. As a proud Glenville alumna, I will delve into some of the aspects that make this school special and help prepare students to be successful as citizens and in middle school.
The clock hits 10:00, as 5th-grade students finish up one academic class with their homeroom teacher, perhaps math. It’s time for them to head to reading. Each student must gather their belongings, such as their iPad and books, before walking down the hallway with their classmates, where they are welcomed into the room by their other 5th-grade academic teacher. Eager to learn, they take their seats.
This unique aspect of Glenville is called departmentalization. By using this approach in grades 4 and 5 Glenville is set apart not only from all the other elementary schools in town but most elementary schools nationwide. Students are assigned to a homeroom teacher just as in earlier grades, but switch classrooms and teachers for academics. The benefits of this are extensive, Glenville Assistant Principal Mrs. Barbara Oxer saying that one of the main reasons behind this arrangement is to prepare students for middle school.
At Glenville, departmentalization still allows for the important connection between the student and their homeroom teacher with all teachers in the grade working closely together to ensure the success of each child. With the implementation of this model, students develop independence, take control of their learning, and get used to having multiple teachers, which is incredibly important as they grow older.
In the words of Glenville alumna and current 7th-grade student, Ingrid, “I think that switching classrooms was good because you got to experience many different teachers and be an independent person.” She mentioned how she got to know the class’s schedule and walk to all her classes independently which helped her get ready for middle school. Other Glenville graduates and current middle schoolers said of departmentalization that “switching classes in 5th-grade was a good thing because we got to see how it would be in middle school” and “you got to meet all your teachers and you got to know them.”
Like most of the elementary schools in town, students at Glenville have the option of taking orchestra beginning in 3rd grade and band beginning in 4th-grade. However, Mrs. Oxer shared with me that Glenville is unique from many other schools in that it has a mandatory chorus program for grades 4 and 5 during the school day, whereas most other schools often provide an optional chorus program before or after school. Glenville’s equitable approach ensures that regardless of a student’s ability to arrive early or stay after school, they can participate in this wonderful ensemble.
Bringing together the whole grade, the chorus program teaches students the importance of commitment to a group, which is necessary for students to learn as they head off to middle school and beyond. Additionally, because all students take chorus, every student is able to participate in the winter and spring concerts regardless of whether they play an instrument.
I greatly enjoyed participating in chorus when I attended Glenville. Every week, I walked into rehearsal excited to sing. Even though I never considered myself as a good singer, the environment was overwhelmingly positive and gave each of us a chance. Even now as a sophomore in high school, I can vividly recall the thrill of being deemed “Chorus Superstar of the Week” and the excitement of performing. Many students also go on to participate in chorus as middle schoolers. These once per week rehearsals allow students a break from the traditional day. There have been many proven benefits of engaging in music and singing during the school day, in terms of both academics and mental health.
And perhaps most importantly, there is a strong sense of community at Glenville School. With the dedicated staff and generous PTA, there are a multitude of opportunities for students and families to come together. When I was younger, one of my absolute favorite events was the annual Harvest Party. It’s a guaranteed great time with music, food, raffles, arts and crafts, games, and inflatable rides. Even after I graduated from Glenville, I have continued to attend with my younger sisters.
Other events include the Mother-Son Night of Fun, Daddy-Daughter Dance, and individual classroom events. For parents, the school also hosts the annual Gator Ball, a night of food, drinks, and a huge silent auction. During the school day once per month, there is a schoolwide assembly or “town meeting” where each class heads to the gym and unites for important messages, announcements, and activities.
While many of these events may not be held or may be altered during the pandemic, I am confident that Glenville will provide safe and fun events for students and families to join together as a community. The community established at Glenville provides students a welcoming and tight-knit place to grow, bond, and in turn succeed, a community in which they can effectively develop the skills needed for middle school and as citizens.
The teachers at Glenville care strongly about community service, kindness, and making the community a better place. They work hard to establish this, ingraining these concepts into many aspects of a student’s day. The 5th-grade Community Service Council is the epitome of this. Several students from each 5th-grade class are elected to serve as a representative in this council which typically meets once per week to plan school-wide service projects like food drives and fundraising events. This program teaches leadership to the 5th-graders and involves the whole school in giving back to the community. Additionally, teachers across grades often collaborate to establish programs like “Book Buddies” where older students in one classroom connect with and read to younger students in another class. As an upper elementary school student, this experience sticks with me to this day and helping my kindergarten buddy inspired me to continue participating in community service-oriented activities. The culture of kindness prevails at Glenville and creates an atmosphere that prepares all children for their role as citizens.
Ultimately, Glenville develops independent, kind students and a united student body through the aforementioned approaches and so much more. Students are prepared for middle school with wonderful academics and programs in place and establish themselves as citizens in the Greenwich community.
Author: Avery Imp, student