Upper School (5 - 8)
At Marin Horizon, the Upper School years are a time of exploration and development, both academically and as a responsible citizen of the world. Students are encouraged to work on self-advocacy and academic resilience as they develop critical thinking skills. Students are encouraged to celebrate differences and share their perspectives in an expanding community.
All subjects in Upper School are departmentalized, and students travel from class to class in groups to learn from teachers in specialized subject areas. All classes offer levels of differentiation depending on the range of skills of the students in the classroom. The curriculum is designed to help students develop intellectual curiosity as they work towards mastery of concepts. With project-based learning, there are several touchpoints for integrating the curriculum across disciplines. Science and Social Studies classes are taught in mixed grade groupings, opening up opportunities for academic interactions with a larger number of students and providing deeper levels of collaborative learning experiences. A Marin Horizon 8th grader will be beaming with pride when they talk about their “pumpkin catapult” they built from scratch, which involved industrial design, geometric angles, laws of motion, and overall showmanship – all as an integrated multi-disciplinary project. They will spend hours talking about their Rube Goldberg project, where they worked in teams to build contraptions that helped them embrace challenge, appreciate failure as a stepping stone, bonding with teammates, and ultimately pride as they present their inventive machine to the entire school.
Students are given many opportunities to grow and thrive outside of the classroom. Marin Horizon Upper School students are also given opportunities to explore the wonder of the natural world during class outings, day trips, and overnight adventures. They display their creative talents with amazing theatrical performances, and learn how to be a “change agent” with individualized projects where they get to have a notable impact on the local community.
Upper school is a time of extraordinary learning and growth. The Upper School endeavors to help students take ownership of their own education and graduate with a strong sense of self and a desire to contribute positively to the world.
Director, Upper School
Upper School - the Pivotal Years
At Marin Horizon, the Upper School years are a time when students use their voice to advocate for themselves. They take initiative to express their opinions, engage in meaningful dialogs and debates, and inspire empathy, understanding, and collective action. Through a rigorous and challenging academic curriculum, students learn how to work in groups, developing leadership skills. They develop executive functioning and organizational skills, which serve them well as they move on to high school, college, and meaningful careers.
Students at the Upper School are change agents. They leverage their knowledge and passion to work on a change they would like to see in the world - and implement it in their local environment. From climate change, health advocacy, or campaign against deforestation, these teens use their voice for a purpose.
The Upper School Program is undoubtedly a comprehensive academic program, as demonstrated by students who graduate into the high schools of their choice. What makes the program truly stand out - is when one observes the students in action, beyond the classroom. The program is experiential by design, where students learn as part of "experiencing" the lessons. They build catapults and Rube Goldberg models to learn Physics, debate passionately on topics like student's right to free speech within the confines of the school boundaries in Humanities, or bring out their inner divas in Performing Arts. It is in these environments that one gets to see the knowledge, confidence, and articulation skills, and how developing a confident voice has prepared the students for a life of compassionate leadership.
A tradition for 7th and 8th graders, the Catapult Launch is the way they learn about Newton's Laws of Motion. Working in small teams, they design, construct, fail, and recover - competing for bragging rights in this Olympic-styled event, cheered on by the entire school.
"The biggest lesson I learn is that failure is just a stepping stone to success."
A 2-month exercise in Social Studies and Language Arts, students work to research a controversial topic relevant to them. They construct arguments for and against the motion, and debate it out with teams with opposing views. It's a spectacle, attended by the entire community.
"I feel like a politician - can passionately debate either side."
Musical & Play
Monty Python and the Holy Grail, The Wizard of Oz, or A Midsummer Night's Dream - student get to use their voice, with different accents, and have a blast doing it. Each year, the school is talking about the breakout star who no one knew possessed such a talent for the stage.
"The 6th grader who plays Nick Bottom - belongs at the Globe Theatre in London."
The school may not have a track, but you wouldn't know it when you see the upper school students compete in regional events. The Physical and Outdoor Education programs leverage the surrounding natural trails to hone their running skills, on road and on trails.
"Every upper school student participates in the track meet - we value courage."
The Upper School Faculty at Marin Horizon stands as a beacon of excellence and inspiration. Comprised of specialists who are not only masters in their respective fields but also passionately devoted to their subjects, they bring the curriculum to life in a way that ignites students' own passion for learning. Their dedication goes beyond mere instruction; they mentor, challenge, and inspire their students to explore, question, and think critically. Through lively discussions, hands-on projects, and innovative teaching techniques, they create an environment where learning is not just a process but an exciting journey. Attend any class, and you'll witness the vibrant interaction and see students' eyes light up with understanding and enthusiasm. It's the influence of these exceptional educators that helps shape the confident, compassionate leaders of tomorrow, and their impact resonates in the heartfelt testimonials of the graduating 8th graders, who often speak of these teachers as life coaches and mentors they could truly count on.
Culture & Race
Stevie Lee Jr.