Middle School Signature Programs
- Spiritual Education
- Social, Emotional, and Academic Learning Approach
- Art à la Carte
- School of Music
- Community Outreach and Service Learning
- Grade-Level Class Trips
- Pathways Program
- Leadership Opportunities
- Middle School Councils
- Alley Theatre Partnership
- National Junior Honor Society
Middle School is the time when students are encouraged to ask questions and nurture a sense of ownership with regard to their faith. The teaching continues to be centered in the Bible, but students are now challenged to take what they have learned in Primary and Lower School and put it together into a coherent whole to determine how Christianity holds together, makes sense, and works as a faith that can help them live as people for others. Two weekly chapel services and one religion class help them do just this, while also providing many chances to interact with and lead peers.
St. Francis faculty members are trained in the Social, Emotional, and Academic Learning (SEAL) methodology. This research-based approach to K–8 teaching focuses on the strong link between social-emotional skills and academic, personal, and civic success. Integrating SEAL into the St. Francis curriculum helps students develop four core competencies:
Self-Awareness: The ability to accurately recognize one’s emotions and thoughts and their influence on behavior. This includes accurately assessing one’s strengths and limitations and possessing a well-grounded sense of confidence and optimism.
Self-Management: The ability to regulate one’s emotions, thoughts, and behaviors effectively in different situations. This includes managing stress, controlling impulses, motivating oneself, and setting and working toward achieving personal and academic goals.
Social Awareness: The ability to take the perspective of and empathize with others from diverse backgrounds and cultures; to understand social and ethical norms for behavior; and to recognize family, school, and community resources and support.
Relationship Skills: The ability to establish and maintain healthy and rewarding relationships with diverse individuals and groups. This includes communicating clearly, listening actively, cooperating, resisting inappropriate social pressure, negotiating conflict constructively, and seeking and offering help when needed.
Our students attend Advisory with their faculty advisor three days a week—and meet again for Silent Independent Reading time. Through our unique SEAL approach, advisors deliver content related to the school’s virtue for each month. Lessons are thoughtful and intentional, tailored to the social, emotional, academic, and spiritual needs of our pre-adolescent and adolescent students.
Art à la Carte, an innovative program designed to expand student appreciation of historically significant art and architecture, was founded by St. Francis parents in 1986 and has since been adopted by a number of schools nationwide. The program offers students in grades K–8 the opportunity to explore the visual arts—including notable artists, paintings, sculpture, and architecture—from prehistoric through modern times. Through trained parent docents, students learn to approach art as educated critics, building confidence and inspiring their own creativity. The Art à la Carte curriculum is a part of the school’s standard academic offering.
The St. Francis School of Music is an instrumental and vocal program available to students in grades K–8. Students attend private or small-group lessons with professional musicians for in-depth study after school or during school enrichment periods.
As part of St. Francis’s continuing effort to create leaders who are people for others and who know the importance of supporting and influencing the surrounding community, students are given opportunities to participate in age-appropriate service activities throughout the school year. Often incorporated into grade-level class trips, undertakings range from projects on campus to working citywide with various charitable organizations. Additionally, Middle School students are encouraged to become involved outside of school. This time is referred to as Service Hours. Students must take the initiative to discern a need, choose an activity to address, then arrange and execute their response.
Middle School students participate in day and overnight trips with their classes in order to team-build and learn more about nature, cityscapes, and culture. Our students often recount these trips as highlights of their St. Francis experience. Over the course of their Middle School years, our fifth graders fast-track it to The Outdoor School in Burton, Texas; sixth graders head to Carolina Creek Christian Camp in Huntsville, Texas; seventh graders trek to T Bar M Camp in New Braunfels, Texas; and eighth graders beeline for Boston, Massachusetts.
St. Francis partners with CHOICES, a non-profit organization that aims to reduce high-risk behavior in children through a comprehensive education and counseling program involving all members of the school community, including students, parents, and faculty. The partnership focuses on reducing risk by increasing the use of executive function skills and promoting healthy alternatives to risky behaviors.
At St. Francis, we believe that effective leadership requires interpersonal skills and competencies that must be learned through experience, practice, and the assessment of successes and failures. In other words, young people can only learn the skills of leadership if they are allowed to exercise it in meaningful ways. Students take on roles in their classes as leadership ambassadors and participate in service opportunities through ingatherings, conversation committees, and stewardship.
In grades 5–8, students enjoy numerous leadership opportunities, such as participating in our school’s council system as a member or an officer; leading prayers at lunch; serving in morning carpool; reading prayers and singing musical offerings in chapel; ushering during Eucharist; distributing and collecting chapel books; and serving as campus ambassadors to visiting teachers and students.
Where Everybody Belongs (WEB) is a Middle School transition program that connects fifth graders with eighth-grade WEB leaders. Selected eighth-grade WEB leaders attend an intensive in-school training session and lead an Opening Day assembly for incoming fifth- and new sixth-grade students. WEB leaders also mentor a small group of fifth-grade students throughout the year by initiating social and academic follow-up activities.
Student Ambassadors are representatives from grades 5–8 who assist the Admissions Office by serving as tour guides for prospective students and representing the school at various functions. Students apply to and are selected by the administrative committee, and the council is sponsored by the Admissions Office and the head of Middle School.
The Middle School offers an array of student council leadership positions for students. The purpose of these councils is to provide meaningful venues through which students can influence the Middle School and exhibit authentic leadership. From the Athletics Council to the C.A.R.E.S., Fine Arts, and Wellness Councils, when students contribute to their environment, they maintain stronger relationships with the faculty, encourage activities for the better interest of the school, and raise the standards and ideals of the students themselves.
The Middle School’s English department partners with Houston’s renowned Alley Theatre to further enhance and enliven the curriculum throughout the year. Totaling 100 hours of classroom instruction and learning, grades 5–8 participate in different units of study, and each grade’s English class partners with a professional actor, poet, writer, or director for a unique learning experience.
The St. Francis Episcopal School Chapter of the National Junior Honor Society (NJHS) recognizes outstanding Middle School students. The school's chapter is governed by the National Honor Society Constitution and local chapter bylaws. Qualified students are invited to seek membership in the school chapter in the fall of their seventh-grade year. The group sponsors three on-campus service projects for members and is sponsored by Middle School faculty.