Middle School

Middle School Academics

W. E. B. Du Bois

Education must not simply teach work––it must teach Life.
We work hard in our middle school to create an environment that allows students to be curious, take risks, stretch their limits, and make mistakes. We believe that the job of our guides is not to simply impart knowledge, but to help students to make meaning from knowledge. Most of all, we believe that joy is a key component of learning, and we work to help students maintain that spark as they navigate these middle school years.

Middle School students study English, Social Studies, Science, Mathematics, Language Acquisition, Wellness, Study Skills, P.E., and the Arts. Classes like Middle School Orientation help students develop study skills and organizational habits early as we encourage students to have a healthy school/life balance.


Foundational to our academic structure is our advisory curriculum. Much more than a home room, an advisory creates a daily support structure for academic and personal success. Advisory is a course that focuses on positive character development, self advocacy skills, and executive function. Students set goals, conduct holistic self-evaluations, take part in community dialogues and activities. We truly believe our students’ success in life will be a function of their ability to produce extraordinary results while maintaining healthy and sustainable lifestyles.

In Partnership with Parents

Advisors serve as the second point of contact for the students’ parents. Our advisors establish a partnership with the parent to support the students’ overall well-being. Middle School is a time of transition and exploration of the self. Students are often in the throes of redefining themselves, sometimes on a weekly basis. Advisory is a course that focuses on positive character development and long-range thinking. We truly believe our students’ success in life will be a function of their ability to produce extraordinary results while maintaining healthy and sustainable lifestyles.

Middle School Academics

List of 3 items.

  • What does a class look like?

    Between classes there is the normal hustle and bustle of adolescent life, students laughing, gathering their materials and talking to their friends as they head to class. Then there is a silence that passes over the school. As each class starts, doors close, and students and guides take a few minutes to do a simple centering practice. For a moment, we are still and take stock of our day, our mind and our body. Class begins with intention.

    Across the school some students will be taking pop quizzes, some will be engaged in silent reading, some will be setting up labs, or typing up papers. Many will be in discussions, some listening to lectures, or doing group projects while others are rehearsing, creating art, or doing self-directed studies. There is no formula for lesson delivery and each guide has the autonomy to respond to his or her class as necessary. At the end of class, however, every class resumes to a united structure. We debrief our classes, taking an opportunity to observe and communicate what worked, or what could be improved in our own process, the classroom environment or in the lesson itself. Class dismissed.
  • Assessment

    Assessment at Headwaters happens in many ways. Guides in the Middle School value a student's participation, homework, projects, and tests as part of their class grade. Assignments are recorded by the guide and available to parents and student via Blackbaud, our Learning Management System we call the Nest. Students write a weekly update to their advisor, and their parents, to summarize their academic progress, grades and plans. This ongoing dialogue gives the student consistent opportunities for advisor feedback, as well as self-evaluation. Guides provide formal comments at mid-semester and report cards are sent out at the end of each semester. To give a holistic perspective on a student's academic and character progress, the advisor submits a comprehensive narrative evaluation as well.
  • Additional Support

    If a student needs or desires additional help from a guide, standing Office Hours happen during the lunch hour. In some cases, guides will require students to come to office hours in order to get such support if they have concerns for their long term success. We find that our office hours structure usually provides the help that many students need to overcome many lingering skill gaps. When more help is needed, our Learning Specialist can help recommend a path with further tutoring or other tools.

Middle School Course Sequence

Middle School Curriculum

Project Week

Every year, each Headwaters student invests in a personal project. Students pick their topics in late fall and develop their ideas through early spring. The actual Project Week happens directly before Spring Break, when all formal classes are suspended and full-time attention goes to the Project Week endeavor. Finally, every single student shares their presentation with the community in our Project Week Fair. Project Week encourages students to explore their passions. Many students use the opportunity to explore practical forms of learning and explore real-world careers. No matter the topic, the Project Week structure demands that students develop planning and organizational skills. These skills enhance over time, and each consecutive year gets more and more ambitious and exciting.

City as Classroom

The River Campus is located in the heart of downtown Austin. We are blocks from the State Capitol, City Hall, Shoal Creek, Waller Creek, Lake Austin, and the business district. Our vision for the River Campus is an upper school program that is deeply integrated with civic, tech, environmental, and service opportunities for our students beyond the walls of our schools. We believe this creates a unique opportunity for our students

Read more about our City as Classroom initiative here.

Springs Campus

18 months to Pre-K
6305 Menchaca Rd.
Austin, TX 78745
Phone: 512-443-8843

Creek Campus

Elementary School
9607 Brodie Ln.
Austin, TX 78748
Phone: 512-804-2708
Fax: 512-628-4810

River Campus

Middle & High School
807 Rio Grande St.
Austin, TX 78701
Phone: 512-480-8142
Fax: 512-480-0278