The Saklan School Middle School prides itself on effective parent-teacher-student communication and family-friendly environment. Twice a year, parent teacher conferences are held to apprise families of student progress and to build teamwork for that purpose; student attendance is strongly encouraged at these conferences. Each trimester our comprehensive report cards provide both letter grades and detailed comments; mid-trimester progress is reported in writing as well. Our faculty has a commitment to communicate with parents by phone, email, or in person if a student’s average falls below 80% in any class.
Field Trips extend lessons beyond the classroom and truly embrace lifelong learning. Students experience a multitude of day trips each year whereby a cross-curricular approach emphasizes learning by doing.
Experiential Education is a student-centered exploration of discovering the answer on your own. It’s more than a week long field trip. Experiential Education places a student in a more direct relationship with the material, allowing them the opportunity to answer their own questions and make discoveries.
Experiential Education trips include:
Saklan Middle School students thrive with a trusted advisor to support them on their journey of personal, academic and social-emotional growth throughout their middle school years. Advisory groups meet four times per week and enjoy both one-on-one student-advisor conversations and also group-wide shared time for student issues and concerns. Students form a special bond with their Advisor and a strong sense of group identity with their fellow advisory members. The Advisor also serves as the key contact for parents concerning their student’s needs and progress.
Learning Period is another way in which we provide support for students at the end of their day. Students can start their homework, take a missed quiz or test, work one-on-one with a teacher, or participate in tutoring.
The Elective Program is designed to go in depth with certain subject matter, as well as to allow students to make decisions regarding their own education. These electives are focused in the areas of the Visual and Performing Arts and Physical Education, and include mixed classes with students from 6th, 7th and 8th grade. During the first and third trimesters, students meet for a 90 minute block each week to actively explore areas that interest them. Past offerings have included: Basketball, Weaving, Shakespearean Actors Workshop, Cross-Country, Textile Art, Jazz Band, Stagecraft, Beginning Dance, Sculpture, Volleyball, and Intermediate Musical theater.
Developing compassion within the students is a critical component of the total Saklan educational experience. Recognizing the importance of cultivating values such as responsibility, compassion, and generosity in our students, we seek to involve them in hands-on service learning activities. The students of Saklan will understand the significance their contribution makes to not only a specific organization, but a community, and an individual.
All Middle School Math classes use the inquiry based College Preparatory Math (CPM) Curriculum. Students explore mathematical ideas in ways that maintain their enjoyment of and curiosity about mathematics, help them develop depth of understanding, and reflect real-world applications. To become good problem solvers, students need many opportunities to create and solve problems in both mathematical and real-world contexts. They also need to develop and build upon a strong number sense. This involves posing questions, defining problems, considering different strategies, and finding appropriate solutions. Working together in teams and groups enhances mathematical learning, helps students communicate effectively, and develops social and mathematical skills.
The Language Arts curriculum is focused on developing mature and confident communicators. Students are continually challenged to be critical and creative thinkers, powerful writers, and self-assured speakers. Throughout middle school, students take part in a variety of public speaking activities, including class presentations, role-playing projects, all-school assemblies, and musical performances. These opportunities culminate in heartfelt graduation speeches presented to family, friends, and faculty -- a truly magical Saklan moment!
Middle School Humanities thrives on collaborative, multimedia, inquiry- and project-based learning experiences to bring history, geography, and cultural studies to life. Classes include critical analysis of film, music, literature, photographs, paintings, artifacts, primary source materials, and contemporary media. The program seeks to develop a respect and understanding of human history and world cultures, while helping students come to their own conclusions about their rights and responsibilities in the 21st century.
Science goes beyond the textbook with our state-of-the art science lab. Hands-on discovery and experimentation encourage students to develop skills in observation, description, and investigation. Two of our three middle school experiential travel programs are developed from the Science curriculum.
Sixth grade is a period of self-assertion and curiosity, when students are becoming more socially expansive and aware. At the Saklan School, we support your child through their transition into adolescence by gently encourage them to develop their personal interests and abilities, and allowing a safe environment to develop excellent interpersonal skills.
Seventh graders are building their sense of individual identity as they continue to build independence. At the Saklan School, we reinforce their growing desire for autonomy by encouraging critical thinking, while providing your child with a caring environment and classroom community..
Students continue to grow in their Math skills by reinforcing concepts introduced in the first year of Pre-Algebra, while they fine tune their skills and go further in depth during this year. New topics include the Pythagorean Theorem, solving inequalities, linear and exponential growth, scientific notation, interest, slopes, solving equations, exponent rules, cones and pyramids, scale factor, circles, solving complex word problems, and transformations.
Language Arts in seventh grade expands on sixth grade's reading, writing, revising, and grammar skill-building. Students learn to read even more closely, ask thought-provoking questions, identify themes in stories and novels, and write authoritatively to prove arguments with examples from the text. Literature examples range from Shaun Tan’s Lost & Found to Aesop’s Fables to contemporary and classic multigenre books of their own choosing.
Seventh grade social studies is designed to help students understand the overarching trends in world history that occurred between 300 C.E. and 1700 C.E. They explore the role of government, spiritual life, and cultural identity to analyze the progress of different civilizations. Regional emphasis include the Middle East, the Sub-Saharan Africa, medieval societies of Japan and Europe, the Americas, and the Renaissance. Significant attention will be placed on the development of Islam, the growth of Christianity, and the interaction between the two.
Science learning is designed to give students a systematic introduction to the processes and categories of life, students learn to hone their observational skills by recognizing specific traits in organisms and by using these traits as criteria for classification and inference. They expand their lab skills through work with compound microscopes, slides, stains, and dissection. Students improve their understanding of the scientific process through independently designed experiments that isolate experimental and control conditions.
Physical education is extended in the seventh grade through intramural and after school sports opportunities.
Eighth graders are transitioning into adolescence and developing foundational skills that will last them throughout their lives. At the Saklan School, we help your eighth grader to thrive through continual encouragement of creative thinking and problem solving skills within an inviting and safe atmosphere.
Saklan Eighth graders take a course in Algebra. This course is a thorough introduction to algebraic techniques and their applications. Basic algebraic skills will be emphasized, with some use of the graphing calculator. Topics include linear, exponential, and quadratic functions, along with polynomials, factoring and radicals.
Advanced eighth graders have the option of a geometry course. This high school level geometry class involves rigorous proofs, properties and relationships of plane figures, and trigonometric ratios taught in a challenging manner. The course is structured around problems and investigations that build spatial visualization skills, conceptual understanding of geometry topics, and an awareness of connections between different ideas. Students are encouraged to investigate, conjecture, and then prove to develop their reasoning skills.
In Language Arts, students take everything they previously learned about crafting strong sentences, paragraphs, and arguments, and put their skills into action in a variety of Humanities contexts, from personal reflections on class activities, to speeches and presentations related to contemporary issues, to mature analysis of news, social media, historical documents, literature, music, and visual art. Engaging literary works are explored, including Orwell’s “Animal Farm”; Civil War fiction by Ambrose Bierce and poems by Henry Timrod; Harlem Renaissance texts by Zora Neale Hurston, Langston Hughes, and Countee Cullen; Charlotte Perkins Gilman’s “The Yellow Wallpaper”; and Mary Wollstonecraft’s “A Vindication of the Rights of Woman.”
Saklan eighth graders explore the concept of United States history as a continuum, from the founders to the latest news, through the lens of “Democracy in Action” (i.e., the interconnections of democracy, freedom, capitalism, and consumerism across the social, cultural, economic, and political spectra). The following are the primary points of inquiry:
After an introductory project on our nation’s cultural geography, the “Democracy in Action” framework is examined within the context of four in-depth units on constitutional rights, race, gender, and class. A key component of the curriculum is a week-long, investigative field trip to Washington, D.C. A multiple-perspective approach is used throughout the year to ensure a balanced understanding.
Eighth grade Science focuses on introducing students to the principles of chemistry and physics. During the first half of the year students master the fundamental principles of matter including atoms, molecules, the periodic table, and molecular interactions including displacement, acid-base, and combustion. The second half of the year focuses on the principles of basic physics including Newton's Laws of Motion, the forces on our planet, and how we use those in our everyday lives.
Physical education is extended in the eighth grade through intramural and after school sports opportunities.
Middle School Dean/ Humanities
• B.A. and Teaching CRED, San Francisco State University
Kim Parks was born and raised in Pinole, California. Since the fifth grade, she was involved in Student Government and Leadership activities culminating in becoming the senior class president. After graduating from Pinole Valley High in 1994, Kim moved down to La Jolla, CA to attend U.C.San Diego. After one year, she realized that U.C.S.D. was not a good fit, so she returned to the Bay Area. Eventually, Kim found the perfect school in San Francisco State University. She graduated with a B.A. in Liberal Studies with an emphasis in Sociology, as well as earning a Multiple Subject Teaching Credential.
At the end of her time at S.F.S.U., Kim was hired at Tara Hills Elementary School to teach second grade. In the next four years, she taught fourth and fifth grade. During these years during summer, Kim always was an employee of The Saklan School either teaching or managing summer camp. Finally in 2004, she caught a lucky break and was offered a full time position at Saklan. Kim has done many different jobs at Saklan over the years. Here are a few: Summer Camp Director, Extended Day Director, Learning Specialist, Interim E.C.E. Director, Student Services Director, Fifth Grade Teacher, Language Arts Teacher, Humanities Teacher, Leadership Teacher, Advisor and Middle School Dean. Kim prides herself on being adaptable, a cooperative team player, fair, loving, and firm. She is interested and continues to study brain research and student learning, learning differences, and the importance of social-emotional learning in an educational environment through Project Happiness.
Middle School Humanities/ Language Arts
• B.A. English/Writing, University of Maryland – cum laude
Sam Prestianni has been teaching middle school Humanities and Language Arts at The Saklan School since 1998. Prior to Saklan, he taught at Archway School and Frago, a special-education facility for boys. He worked for many years as a freelance music and arts critic/journalist, and his writing has appeared in dozens of magazines, newspapers, and anthologies, including SFWeekly, New York Press, and Jazziz. He has written two novels, edited a few books (fiction and non-fiction), and published short fiction and poetry in a number of literary magazines. He holds a B.A. cum laude in English and Creative Writing from University of Maryland, which he attended on a poetry scholarship. He plays guitar and banjo in a 21st-century string band, and in his spare time... he runs Free Range Flower Winery with his partner.
Middle School Math
• B.A. UC Berkeley
Middle School Science Teacher/ Science Specialist
• B.S. Elon University
• M.A. Montclair State University
Since joining The Saklan School in 2007, Vickie has made science her passion with a BS and an MA in Environmental Education. She wants to allow every student to ask questions about the world around them, see the relevance of what they are learning in their life and find science fun! In the science lab, Vickie works with students in grades K-4 as their Science Specialist. K-4 students visit the lab twice a year, fall and spring, for a 3-week unit each time. Students engage in activities that require them to work collaboratively, think independently, experiment, and problem-solve. The 5th grade students transition to visiting the science lab for their entire science curriculum and continue to enjoy the challenging and interactive activities and labs. In middle school, she sees the students 5 times a week, and incorporates labs, lecture, simulations, hands on activities, research, field trips and other activities to bring concepts to life. Students are also put face to face with the concepts they are learning by attending experiential field trips (Marin Headlands in 5th, Yosemite in 6th, Hawaii in 7th, and Great America: Physics Day in 8th).
Vickie started teaching while in college as a lab assistant and later at environmental education centers, teaching how the environment works and how people play a role in the health of their surroundings. She not only teaches at The Saklan School, but also shares her love of science with others during the summer. For the past four summers she has taught for Sallie Ride Summer Camp and A+ Middle School at Stanford University and UC Berkeley, teaching such topics as: Forensics, Engineering, Robotics, Marine Biology and Astronomy.
Physical Education Specialist
• A.A. in General Education, Las Positas College
• B.S. in Kinesiology, CSU Hayward
Mr. Crabtree is a Bay Area native and his family has lived in California for many generations. His mother inspired him to love aquatics and dance. His father gave him a sense for self-improvement and sportsmanship. As a child, Mr. Crabtree loved to be outdoors and went on his first backpacking trip when he was six years old. While growing up he played many sports, such as baseball, bowling, soccer, swimming, wrestling and taekwondo. Christian has been a Physical Education specialist since 1999 and joined The Saklan School in 2011.
When he is not on the sports court, he is busy helping his brother fix up the small family homestead. To relax, Mr. Crabtree enjoys sitting on the patio sipping lemonade.
Spanish Specialist, Grades 4-8
• M.T.E. Master in Technology Education, University of British Columbia
Ivonne started teaching Spanish in Mexico in 1993 after receiving her graduate degree in Instituto Tecnológico y Estudios Superiores de Monterrey joint program at The University of British Columbia. In 2007, she started teaching Spanish to non-native speakers at the Middlebury Institute of International Studies-SILP in Monterey. She also taught Spanish at the Bishop O’Dowd High School for two years. When Ivonne is not teaching, she enjoys hiking, reading and cooking. But best of all, she rejoices in helping students learn about Mexican culture and encourages them to take risks in their language learning journeys.