FAQ

What is the origin of the school's name?
What is the school's structure?
What are some of the benefits of a small school?
How will students be prepared for college?
How are traditional and progressive goals balanced?
Is Meridian Academy accredited?

What is the origin of the school's name? 
The word meridian was chosen because it captured two aspects of schooling that were important to the founding families and teachers. A meridian is a great circle about the globe symbolizing both inclusiveness and the making of connections. Meridian is also defined as a pinnacle of achievement. In the spirit of these definitions, Meridian Academy is a community of learners striving for excellence in their exploration of the world.

What is the school's structure? 
Meridian has seven grades (sixth through twelfth) and is growing to be nearly 100 students. Classes are mostly organized by divisions consisting of two adjacent grades. Because students regularly work with classmates in the grades one year above and below them, students have an academic peer group three times larger than a single grade.
Students take two core interdisciplinary courses, Humanities and Mathematics, Science and Technology, which are taught by one or two teachers with content strengths that are both broad and deep. The third core course that each student also takes is Spanish. Our student-teacher ratio is 5:1 making it possible for teachers to mentor research projects and provide detailed documentation of student work.

What are some of the benefits of a small school? 
Teenagers are young-adults-in-the-making. They require multiple opportunities to practice doing what adults do: establish goals, weigh complex options, avoid inappropriate ones, take leadership and make mistakes and learn from those mistakes. Large high schools are rarely capable of making sure that any but a few of their students get those opportunities. Meridian is a small school because students need the attention, guidance, and safe environment to try out adult responsibilities and freedoms gradually.
Meridian's size allows teachers to know each student's strengths and challenges and to offer activities that are an appropriate next learning step. Meridian students and teachers frequently work together for more than one year and build on the progress made in prior courses.
Contrary to first impressions, Meridian's small size offers students better resources than those typically available in traditional schools. Meridian has the flexibility to take advantage of the many superior programs and resources available in the Boston area such as universities, research laboratories, museums, public and college libraries, community organizations, and natural settings. Because our curriculum emphasizes the making of connections, these organizations recognize in our program the opportunity to teach ideas as they are truly developed in real-world settings and are eager to partner with Meridian faculty to inspire our students.
Being small does present challenges as well. As they get older, teenagers often want to be exposed to a larger peer group. Meridian works to build a larger social environment through partnerships with other local small schools for both academic and extra-curricular activities.

How are students prepared for college? 

College is a vast world of unstructured academic and social opportunities. Students who can provide their own structure, initiative, and sense of purpose are best prepared to make the most of these opportunities. Meridian's mission is to nurture these attributes — to help its students become responsible, engaged young adults. Meridian students have experiences working with adults on projects both within and outside of school and know, on reaching college, how to approach and work with their professors to receive guidance and mentoring. They explore, in a safe environment, how to make healthy and ethical decisions so that they will be better able to find and build a healthy peer culture once they reach college.
Meridian's curriculum includes all of the subject matter that colleges typically require. Students are prepared to take the SAT or ACT and other standardized tests required for college admissions. Because their subjects are integrated and studied for more than one year, Meridian students have an advantage in preparing for tests in subjects such as biology that other schools typically prepare for in a single rushed year. Meridian students perform quite well on these exams.
Meridian's teachers have extensive experience and success working with colleges to present the rich achievements of students working in a project-based curriculum. It is these projects that convince colleges that a student is ready for the more complex work that professors seek.

How are traditional and progressive goals balanced?  
The current national focus on testing ignores the fact that many important academic efforts such as designing and carrying out a scientific experiment, writing a poem, or doing historical research cannot be completed in one room in an hour or two. These efforts require time to create, reflect, and revise. They also require students to master many of the skills that are the focus of standardized tests. Students cannot learn technical skills effectively and know when to use them without actual experience doing so. For example, a group of students who are building a stage set for a play will practice using ideas from physics and geometry but within a setting that adds real world complications. These meaningful challenges help them to appreciate both the theory and practice of the disciplines.

Is Meridian Academy accredited? 
Meridian has been reviewed and approved by both the Brookline School Committee and the Boston School Committee. Meridian will also be a candidate school for accreditation with the New England Association of Schools and Colleges (NEASC, www.neasc.org). NEASC is the oldest regional accrediting association in the United States (founded 1885). Once the school has reached its full size, we will complete the year-long accreditation process of self-study and outside review. Members of Meridian's board and faculty are experienced at leading both independent and public schools through successful NEASC reviews.
Meridian is also a member of the Coalition of Essential Schools (www.essentialschools.org).