August 10, 2023

Dear Upper School Students and Families:

Welcome to the 2023-2024 school year! 

I am so excited for another special year with our Upper School students and families here at Woodside School. I hope that you all had a restful and fun summer; somehow, it seems to go by more quickly each year! I enjoyed spending time with my family and taking in all of the local attractions with my toddler during July. It was special to have some time at home with him, and now it’s nice to be back into my routine. I’m eager to see you all and to kick off another great year at Woodside School!

The Upper School staff is very excited for the upcoming school year and has been eagerly preparing for students’ arrival on Wednesday, August 16th. The Upper School faculty has been hard at work, honing their rigorous, enriching curricula that will build academic, social-emotional, and executive functioning skills. Our students are so lucky to have such incredible teachers this year! 

Below are some updates to begin the school year, as well as information about student schedules. Please note that it is very important that both parents and students check their email regularly throughout the school year. 

6th-8th Grade Schedule Structure: Students in grades 6-8 will have an 8-period day, where they rotate classrooms for each subject area. We operate on a modified block schedule, where students attend periods 1-8 on Monday and Tuesday, periods 1-7 on Wednesday with an early dismissal, odd numbered periods on Thursday, and even numbered periods on Friday. By providing students with access to limited classes on Thursdays and Fridays, they are able to spend twice the amount of time continuously in each class, allowing for more in-depth projects and assessments to take place. Students will receive help deciphering their schedules on our first day, when we will meet in grade level groups to engage in team building and to review expectations for the year. 

6th-8th Grade Individual Student Schedules: 6th-8th grade students will receive detailed schedules on the first day of school when we work in grade level groups. Schedules will not be sent home prior to this. Our staff will be on hand to welcome students to campus and to direct them to the correct room for grade level meetings on the first day. Teachers will walk students through their schedules so that they are ready to go on the first full day of school, Thursday, August 17th. 

Class Lists: Students’ class lists will be sent out digitally on Tuesday, August 15th, so please look out for that communication. Please note that class lists for 6th-8th grade focus on your child’s immediate cohort, but students switch groupings throughout the day for Math, Music, PE, and electives. Students will receive their detailed schedules on the first day of school, as outlined above. 

PowerSchool/Email Usernames & Passwords: Students’ PowerSchool usernames and passwords will remain the same as previous years. If you need a copy of this data, please contact the front office. 

First Day of School: Per tradition, our 6th-8th graders will spend the first day of school in grade level meetings, where we will walk students through schedules and procedures so that they know exactly what to expect this year. This is a great opportunity to begin the year and address many of the topics that are pressing (e.g., schedules, behavior expectations, technology, SEL and team building activities, etc.). Please note that the first day of school, Wednesday, August 16th, is a minimum day. 5th graders will report to their homerooms, where they will engage in classroom and class activities for the day. It is sure to be a great first day for all of our students!

Class List Assignments: The assignment of students to classes requires time and careful planning by our staff members. Classroom teachers, specialists, and administration have worked hard to create balanced class lists. Placement decisions include, but are not limited to, academic, social and emotional considerations, total class size, student ratios, special behavior needs, maturity, development and/or age level. Unfortunately, we are not in a position to grant any schedule changes at this time. New class placements are a wonderful opportunity for students to forge new friendships and to encounter experiences that will help them to grow and expand their horizons. 

6th-8th Grade Math Placement: Upper school Math placement is determined using student data (i.e., MARS, state testing, MDTP assessments, and classroom performance from the prior year). Students are placed into one of the available sections for their grade level. These groupings are based on pacing, student assessment data, prior Math class performance, and possible successful attempts to opt into the acceleration program. The entire Math department and the administration met to review student data and to place students in their Math sections for this year. We are extremely confident that every single student’s Math placement was reviewed with care and thought. Students often erroneously refer to the “high group” or the “low group” when talking about Math placements. Please discuss with your child that the majority of students in a particular grade are taking the same Math. Each section differs with depth, complexity, and pacing, but in many cases, the content is similar. This should help to alleviate any misconceptions about being perceived to be in a certain Math class. Our Math teachers will monitor student progress closely, and will adjust any placements as necessary in the beginning of the year. To learn more about the placement process, I encourage you to visit the Upper School Math Pathways webpage HERE.

I look forward to welcoming all of our students back personally as the new school year begins, and I cannot wait for you to see what our Upper School staff has in store for our students! Please contact me with any questions that you might have. 

I look forward to partnering with you to make this the best school year yet for your child!


Jenn Pedersen  
Upper School Principal