Why A Progressive Preschool - 8th Grade?

To Know and Be Known

From the moment your child is born, and maybe even before, you’re considering schools. Kindergarten through 12? Public? Independent? Start at one school and move to another? It can be overwhelming. But the rationale for a Preschool–8th school in general, and Duke School in particular, is clear and compelling.

Duke School is committed to nurturing your child throughout their crucial first eleven years of education. This period encompasses early childhood and early adolescence, a time when we guide and accompany students on their educational journey, fostering intellectual, moral, and social growth with intention and care. 

Extensive research supports the advantages of Preschool–8th schools over the traditional separate-middle-school model, demonstrating improvements in children's academic performance and overall well-being.  Duke School's history and expertise align with these findings:

  1. A Focus on Formative Years: Duke School's educators, curriculum, resources, and expertise are all tailored to meet the developmental needs of early childhood and young adolescent learners
  2. A Supportive Environment: Our school provides a warm, nurturing community where students are not just known but also come to know themselves. This environment encourages strong peer and student-teacher relationships, enabling children to be themselves, take risks, and embrace their full potential
  3. Natural Growth Progression: In a Preschool–8th setting, students are not rushed into premature adulthood. They feel comfortable within their age group, concentrate on their learning, and relish their childhood. This approach contributes to increased self-esteem and confidence, promoting healthier adolescent development and a deep sense of belonging. By the time they reach 8th grade, our students are well-prepared to actively participate in the search for their ideal high school. Our Early ChildhoodLower School and Middle School programs do not compete with a high school program for valuable human and financial capital.
  4. Leadership Opportunities: Research indicates that Preschool–8th students are more likely to embrace leadership roles at a younger age. At Duke School, our Middle School students engage in a wide range of academic, athletic, and service leadership opportunities. They also serve as mentors to their younger peers.
  5. Engaged Family Involvement: Preschool–8th schools, like Duke School, encourage a higher level of parental involvement compared to stand-alone middle schools and high schools. This active partnership between school and parents has been shown to enhance student success and overall well-being. At Duke School, we grow and learn together.

We invite you to explore the numerous studies highlighting the proven benefits of Preschool–8th education. Additionally, we extend a warm invitation to visit Duke School, where you can witness firsthand the advantages of our transformative Preschool–8th experience.

What is a progressive school?

Progressive education is all about putting children first. We believe in their natural curiosity and eagerness to learn. Our educators support each child individually, providing materials, frameworks, and a curriculum to foster their academic, social, an emotional growth.

It's an exciting and joyful approach, never forced. We empower students to take charge of their education, involving them in curriculum creation and classroom direction. Problem-solving and open-ended discussions are at the heart of learning from an early age.

Self-reflection is key, but we also stress the importance of community responsibility, both locally and globally. Embracing diverse perspectives and promoting diversity, equity, and inclusion are core principles of a Duke School progressive education.

Additional Resources | Preschool - 8th Grade Schools

Duke School | Our Student Outcomes

First page of the PDF file: DSSchoolProfile2023

Before I became a mom, I had friends whose children entered Duke School in preschool and attended through eighth grade. They were among the most engaging and engaged kids we'd ever met. So when our son turned three, we knew we were headed to Duke School. His preschool experience at Duke School gave him the solid foundation he needed to enter his elementary years fully prepared and confident in his abilities. It's exciting to think about what the next few years will bring! 

Holly, Jim, and Griffin '19

MEET Our Graduates

At Duke School, our students experience the freedom to discover and develop their authentic selves in an environment of true belonging. They recognize and build on their strengths and exhibit a spirit of growth that frees them to become resilient risk-takers. They grow into empathetic leaders, compassionate citizens, creative problem-solvers, and independent thinkers.

Check our the latest issue of our school magazine, Under the Oak, to catch up on the latest with our Alumni community, beginning on page 41.