Acquiring the character needed to thrive in a diverse and ever-evolving society, these young visionaries want to make a difference, so we champion their capacity to effect real change. By the time eighth graders walk across the stage to receive their diplomas, they have not only acquired the academic skills necessary to take on the challenges of any high school, but they are also determined to make the world a better, more equitable place.
Each facet of our program is specifically designed with middle school brains in mind. The interdisciplinary curriculum encourages students to adopt the adaptable, entrepreneurial spirit required to embrace the challenges of a rapidly evolving world. Students practice key communication skills by developing strong interpersonal relationships and mastering purposefully selected technology tools, allowing them to become self-directed learners who exercise critical reasoning.
Our signature Advisory program does more than provide students with a daily check-in. It has its own curriculum designed to support the academic and social-emotional lives of middle schoolers as they experience a remarkable rate of physical, emotional, social, and cognitive change. In small group settings, students learn and practice essential life skills, such as study strategies and organizational habits. Each student develops a meaningful relationship with their advisor, assimilating key relational skills such as empathy, compassion, conflict-resolution, boundary-setting, assertiveness training, leadership, and mentorship. Advisory curriculum also includes health and human development topics, so that students explore self-identity and community in an environment anchored by a trusted adult advocate.
Humanities students use the power of words to think, speak, and write critically. Social studies and language arts are integrated, and literature selections connect the curriculum to local and global communities, as well as to historical change and current events. Our students analyze perspectives by reading actively and practice the art of using their own voice in structured composition and creative writing.
Beyond developing a sophisticated fluidity and proficiency with numbers, mathematics students at Turning Point acquire the discipline of practice and learn to effectively utilize a blend of resources to gain proficiency, including technology tools and methodical notes. Students utilize these skills and tools to further their conceptual understanding; the end result is that they are able to effectively strategize, problem-solve, and provide well-organized evidence of sound mathematical arguments.
In Middle School science, our students establish connections between the physical and natural world and their own lives. They explore earth science, biology, environmental studies, chemistry, and physics. Students are challenged to develop higher-level critical thinking skills through problem-based learning, cooperative group projects, hands-on laboratory experiences, and study tours.
Through our Middle School world language program, students build written and oral communication skills in the target language. In Spanish, students learn conversational language and grammatical concepts through everyday connections and community experiences. In Latin, students appreciate Latin’s influence on English and other languages and disciplines. Across the grade levels, learning is rooted in the cultural and historical contexts of the languages being studied.
In Leadership classes, all Grades 7 and 8 students explore civic responsibility as it relates to their daily lives at school and their interactions with the broader community. Individual leadership strengths are identified and developed through a range of projects and activities, including mentorship and service-learning, empowering students to fully understand and explore their potential to contribute.
Active lessons in a variety of team games, nutrition, fitness, and basic physiology teach students the value of a healthy lifestyle while empowering them to achieve and maintain personal fitness. Self-confidence and problem-solving are fostered through emphasis on individual effort, sportsmanship, and teamwork.
Middle school interscholastic teams extend the physical education program as a means to foster students’ skill acquisition and deepen their understanding of healthy competition. A “no-cut” policy encourages participation and enables athletes at all levels to experience the benefits of team practice and play. League participation with various independent schools on the west side of Los Angeles includes sports such as flag football, soccer, basketball, volleyball, baseball, cross-country, swimming, cheer, and track & field.
Our Middle School Elective program includes a wide range of choices to enrich the core academic curriculum. We know that a diverse curriculum prepares students to be adaptable and accomplished global citizens and that students who think outside the box and take responsible risks improve their confidence and deepen their love of learning. Whether pursuing a passion or trying something for the first time, students are encouraged to confidently take risks in a nurturing environment.
Self‐esteem is vital to children’s social and cognitive development and emotional well‐being. Middle School in particular can bring challenges to an adolescent’s self-esteem in the form of social comparison and competition. New research, however, shows that engagement in the arts through painting, drawing, playing music, or reading makes kids feel better about themselves more often.
Understanding that art is a language through which humanity expresses itself, in Middle School students identify and develop visual voices and gain a greater appreciation for the creative process. Whether practicing specific techniques of Fine Arts or honing Photography skills, passionate young artists express themselves creatively as they explore the intersection of art and culture.
In the MakerLab Studio, students explore a broad spectrum of project-based learning and design thinking activities where science, mathematics, and art come together with the help of the latest technology and professional tools.
To refine the art of communication, the Public Speaking and Debate electives foster students’ critical thinking skills so they may hone their research abilities and articulate sound arguments and cogent rebuttals. Creative Writing participants learn the importance of detailed descriptions, dialogue, and the power of observation as they create compelling works of fiction and poetry.
Youth for Change students learn to use critical thought in investigating international art, culture, and media while passionately exploring and raising consciousness about environmental conservation or human rights.
Students in Entrepreneurial Innovation and Design develop an entrepreneurial mindset by defining a problem in the community and then creating an applicable solution to address it. Using critical thinking, creativity, and time management skills, students implement business plans and complete real-world projects while collaborating with local professionals in innovative fields—with a goal of taking their ideas to market.
Students in Coding make original artwork the human hand could never create, designing their own projects along customizable tracks including games, design, and apps. In Video Production, students explore the realm of visual narrative using new media technologies that bring traditional methods like animation, film, and video journalism to a whole new level. In Graphic Design/Yearbook students will learn the skills of communicating visually through technology-based two-dimensional design, resulting in the production of the school’s annual Yearbook.
From Beginning Theatre to Advanced Scene Study, students hone their acting and improvisational skills, and learn to collaborate as an ensemble cast. To prepare for a fully-staged production, Winter Musical actors and crew are immersed in theater fundamentals through the audition, rehearsal, and performance processes. Shakespeare Workshop students read and speak Elizabethan text, explore sonnets and poetry, and mount scenes from various Shakespeare plays.
Band improves students’ knowledge of music theory and playing proficiency while creating a cohesive and practiced jazz and pop music ensemble. Students at all levels in the Ukulele Orchestra, expand their chord vocabulary and explore different strumming styles. Composition Technology students work collaboratively to create and record their own compositions using software to incorporate whatever instrumentation fits their creative vision. In Choral Performance, students practice singing with expression as one voice, which is essential to the understanding of community and cooperation.
Turning Point School’s SmartLab and MakerLab are dynamic environments in which students can utilize analog materials and digital devices to put innovative, project-based learning and design thinking into practice.
Collaboration is key in these spaces, as students utilize critical thinking, creativity, and problem-solving skills to reach their individual and collective goals.
In our Innovation Labs, the teacher plays the role of facilitator so that students can create and execute their own projects with the latest technological and professional tools. Hands-on, real-world engagement in Science, Technology, Engineering, Arts, and Mathematics (STEAM) helps students answer the essential question, “How can you improve or contribute to your community?” This sense of purpose motivates students to be more creative and courageous with their choices in the Labs.
In the digitally-oriented SmartLab, students can soar as far as their entrepreneurial spirits and resourcefulness will take them, while diving deeply into the eight systems of technology: science & data acquisition, mechanics and structures, robotics and control technology, circuitry, graphic design, and multimedia. Whether programming Arduino software or experimenting with the pneumatics board, our students learn to take risks and reflect on (and document) the novel discoveries they make along the way.
The MakerLab can be described as a modern-day “shop” environment that is elevated by state-of-the-art technological tools. Here, our young inventors exercise their creative muscles by designing and building original projects that integrate curriculum and bring it to life. Teacher facilitators encourage ingenuity and exploration as students work with means as simple (yet powerful) as their hands and hand tools, to as complex as 3D printers and laser cutters. Students feel motivated and empowered to take ownership of their learning, and their willingness to explore their innate curiosity and take risks pays dividends as they advance their learning.
Turning Point Mentor Program
Students in grades 6-8 practice leadership, confidence, and compassion by mentoring elementary students in grades 3-5. Students partner together in a three-year mentor/mentee relationship as they share authentic experiences. Making conversation and developing camaraderie with students two years younger provides a unique opportunity for our middle school students to practice empathy – and even diplomacy at times! These social skills are invaluable as they give students practice in positively communicating and collaborating with people of all ages, and with different interests and experiences.
Grade 8 students often serve as ambassadors, representing Turning Point at school events both on and off campus. While sharing information about the school with our guests, ambassadors confidently reflect on their own experiences and authentically speak from the heart, while gaining valuable practice in leadership and the art of communication.
Grade 8 & Primary “Buddies” Program
A long-standing tradition at Turning Point, Grade 8 “Big Buddies” regularly visit their preschool “Little Buddies” in preschool classes. Every week, Buddies engage in a variety of activities including reading, making puzzles, doing Montessori class “work,” and playing games. Grade 8 students practice their learned leadership skills in a unique setting, while preschool students form meaningful bonds with role models in the community. It is difficult to decide whether the older or younger counterparts enjoy this experience more!
In middle school, your child will have opportunities to engage in real-world experiences as they build the foundation for a lifetime of “learning through doing.” Each trip is selected and designed to provide students with ever-evolving practice in expanding their knowledge, deepening their friendships, interacting with a broader community, and developing their independence. By experiencing unique places and cultures domestically and abroad, students become increasingly culturally competent and adaptable; they are well-prepared for an ever-changing globally connected world. And certainly, lifelong memories and friendships are made.
Grade 6 • Arizona | Grand Canyon
Grade 6 students enhance their science and humanities studies by taking a five-day service-learning trip to Arizona. Their studies of the ancient world and geology come to life as they explore the splendor and history of rock formations and petroglyphs and work to restore the pristine environments, fauna, and flora in the area. They journey through time on a Colorado River floating expedition, participating in service learning and enjoying the incredible beauty of the Grand Canyon and other national park sites.
Grade 7 • Deep Roots Environmental Service Learning in the Dominican Republic
As a highlight of their environmental studies and science curriculum, Grade 7 students travel to the lush mountains of the Dominican Republic for a week-long service learning trip. Students work alongside peers from the island at the Environmental School in Jarabacoa to collaborate meaningfully on a shared world issue: environmental sustainability. The natural beauty and warm hospitality of the Dominican Republic provides a magnificent setting for students to make a lasting impact on the environment.
Grade 8 • World Language Trip
In their final year of world language study, Grade 8 students immerse themselves in the culture, history, language, and art during a 10-day trip to Italy. The Grade 8 international spring trip offers a perfect conclusion to the middle school linguistic and arts programs, in which the rich culture and history of the languages and culture are celebrated.
Summer Service Learning Trips
By the time our students graduate, they have had opportunities to see themselves as global citizens who have a deep understanding of their individual and collective roles in the world, with the ability and desire to meaningfully impact the future. To this end, the school offers optional summer service learning trips for Middle School students. Service learning trips to Ecuador, Peru, Fiji, and Thailand (2019) have provided valuable opportunities for students to build lasting solutions and establish positive connections in communities overseas.
Each year, Turning Point graduates apply and matriculate to some of the most prestigious and selective high schools regionally, nationally, and abroad. Still others will explore various public, charter, magnet, for-profit, and hybrid school programs. Turning Point School provides unparalleled support, guidance, and advocacy for each child and family as they navigate the high school search process.
We know that each student’s equation for achievement is unique. We honor this diversity by working closely with families to find the right high school to honor each child’s passions, strengths, and interests.
As mature, thoughtful leaders within our preschool through middle school community, Grade 8 students are expected to play a meaningful and substantive role in their placement process. By the time our students are ready to consider high school, they have developed the self-knowledge and resilience necessary to be leaders and innovators, they are accountable for their own choices, and they are conscious of their responsibility toward the broader community.
When students achieve this level of independent thought, they are primed to make meaningful contributions as citizens of their next school and beyond. They matriculate to competitive high schools locally, nationally, and internationally, and have been accepted to over 200 colleges and universities upon graduation from high school.
High School Acceptances | Class of 2023
Archer School for Girls
Campbell Hall School*
Crossroads School for Arts and Sciences*
Hamilton Performing Arts Magnet*
Harvard Westlake School*
Immaculate Heart High School*
Loyola High School*
Marymount High School
Milken Community School
New Roads School*
Notre Dame High School*
Pacifica Christian High School
Santa Monica High School*
Santa Monica Preparatory
*Denotes Turning Point graduate(s) enrolling next fall.
In recent years, Turning Point alumni have been accepted to over 200 different colleges, universities, and professional schools. The following is a partial list of acceptances since 2015.