Middle School

Middle School is a time when University School of Milwaukee students are able to explore and extend their independence as they begin to transform into young adults, surrounded and guided by adults who understand them and want the best for them.

With growing social, physical, and emotional needs—on top of more challenging academic expectations—these students are supported by some of the most innovative, energetic, awe-inspiring, and compassionate people around, teachers and administrators who work hard to create a supportive and nurturing environment. Our teachers serve as advisors who act as academic and social advocates and meet regularly with students not only to educate them and hold them accountable, but also to listen to and support them.

USM offers Middle School students a challenging and diverse academic program that acknowledges the developmental needs of young students. State-of-the-art classrooms provide engaging environments for the latest educational approaches, creating a setting where students acquire important collaboration, communication, and technological skills to be successful.

Starting with its small class sizes, the Middle School learning environment is conducive to not only great teaching but also community building. In addition to large, recently renovated classrooms, the Nerdvana Middle School makerspace, the Borisch Center for the Arts, and an incredible library offer great spaces for academic pursuits. The Middle School Commons is another incredible space where students can gather to work on group projects and socialize.

Similarly, our Middle School students’ talents are not just developed in the classrooms. With a robust visual and performing arts curriculum and program, many clubs and activities to join, and the opportunity to participate in both interscholastic and intramural athletic teams in all four grade levels, Middle School students can find many ways to have fun, make new friends, develop new skills, and showcase their leadership and other abilities.

As our kids moved up through the divisions, we continued to be impressed with the caliber of instruction, and the climate of the school. We liked the academic discipline and the expectation for integrity and kindness—the Common Trust principles that the school adheres to. There wasn't ever a point where we considered anything else.

With teachers who also serve as advisors to small groups of students, along with a strong, integrated counseling program, USM’s Middle School provides appropriate opportunities for students to develop self-discipline, a sense of self-awareness, responsibility, and effective work habits—characteristics that will serve them well in the years ahead as they begin to further embody our Portrait of a USM Graduate. The development of the whole child is emphasized during these important developmental stage years of pre-adolescence and early adolescence.

A student listens as his classmates discuss a book.

5th Grade

University School of Milwaukee is unique among area schools, with Middle School starting in 5th grade, and these students benefit from a transitional year where they begin to foster independence and work on developing habits of mind to be successful learners, in Middle School and beyond. Advising is also a key part of the 5th grade experience, with all students starting and ending every school day with their advisor.
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Students laugh while placing their hands on each others heads.

6th Grade

The 6th grade year at University School of Milwaukee is one that is filled with personal growth and learning through challenge. We create a safe place for students to explore problem solving with a growth mindset. From our annual Empty Bowls service project—in which students create clay bowls in art classes to help raise awareness and money for food insecurity issues—to our overnight winter retreat at Camp Timber-lee in East Troy, we work toward building community.
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A student and his science teacher wear protective gear while caring for a bee hive.

7th Grade

At University School of Milwaukee, 7th graders cross over into their first year of secondary education, when the educational philosophy changes from the primary education years. Simply put, USM expects more out of its 7th grade students, in terms of both preparation and communication. This process begins in this grade level, and will continue as students mature and move on in their academic careers.
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A student laughs with her classmates in history class.

8th Grade

The leaders of University School of Milwaukee’s Middle School student body are its 8th graders. The 8th grade stairs in the Middle School lobby, connecting the first and second floors of the Middle School, are a visual reminder of both the privileges and responsibilities that come with students’ elevated status in their last year of Middle School, before the new challenges and opportunities that await them in high school.
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On behalf of our faculty and administrative team, I want to thank you for exploring University School of Milwaukee for your child's middle school experience. Once you have learned all that you can from these pages, I would invite you and your family to visit our campus and classrooms for a conversation and a tour, to see for yourself what makes a USM education so special. When you're ready for the next step, just click on one of the buttons below. I look forward to meeting you.


Elaine Griffin
Head of Middle School

Elaine Griffin