Why Choose CMS?

Since 1994 CMS has been dedicated to helping girls succeed.

For years education researchers have studied single-sex education and its effects on learning outcomes.  In its review of current research, the National Coalition of Girls Schools notes that “… girls’ schools have served students of many abilities, interests, talents and backgrounds … What sets them apart from other educational settings is an in-depth understanding of how girls learn and succeed.”[1] 

At CMS, we combine high expectations with close attention to the learning needs of each individual student. We limit our class sizes in order to maximize the attention that teachers can devote to students to make sure everyone is successful in the classroom.  Students enjoy frequent hands-on learning activities and field trips to enhance the classroom experience.  Because we are located on campus, we can use University of Illinois museums, laboratories, and other facilities as an extended classroom. Girls leave CMS well prepared for advanced classes in high school and college.  In fact:

·       Our math curriculum uses a high-school level text.  By the time they graduate from 8th grade, our students have completed Algebra I. 

·       Our Spanish classes also use a high school text.  Most students complete three years of Spanish at CMS, which enables them to be placed into second or third year level Spanish classes when they enter high school.

One area of particular emphasis at CMS is math and science; we work very hard to emphasize these subjects as areas where girls can and do excel. Although women continue to be underrepresented professionally in areas of science, technology, engineering and math (STEM), research indicates that girls in single-sex classes tend to develop greater interest and proficiency in math and science than those in co-ed classes.  Girls in single-sex classes are also less likely to hold stereotypical views of women in the workplace.[2]

The students at CMS are living proof that girls can succeed in science and math.  Our track record shows that approximately 30-40% of our graduating class each year will major at the college level in math, science, engineering or medicine.  Our science curriculum includes outreach programs with University of Illinois professors.  These programs allow girls the opportunity to visit working laboratories, utilize modern technology and equipment, meet scientists in a variety of fields, and participate in hands-on activities.   One of the professors participating in this program described its purpose as:  “We are trying to show them they’re able to solve those problems, and not just show them fancy stuff but empower them, so that they can solve hard problems, show what kinds of needs there are, what kinds of questions that need to be solved, and tell them, ‘maybe there’s something for you to do, maybe you can come into [this field] and do it yourself.’”[3]

A successful middle school experience requires excellent academic preparation combined with an understanding of the social and developmental needs of adolescents.  In general, all-girls’ schools provide an environment that encourages girls to develop self-confidence and leadership skills.  The National Coalition for Girls’ Schools explains:  “All the speakers, players, writers, singers, team captains, community organizers and leaders are girls.  Mentors and role models are not hard to find.”[4]  At Campus Middle School for Girls, our mission is to develop the whole child:  to provide opportunities for academic achievement, to foster creativity in the arts and sciences, and to facilitate each student's exploration of who she is during the critical middle school years.

Middle school is a time of learning how to fit in and navigate the challenges of adolescence.  One of the key concepts we try to instill at CMS is that students are their own best support network and cheering squad.  The hugs that our students give each other during the day attest to the power of friendships that are based on mutual respect and acceptance.  When problems do arise, we try whenever possible to treat them as an opportunity to teach students effective conflict resolution strategies. 

In an effort to evaluate our success in creating a favorable learning environment, we regularly survey parents at the end of the academic year.   One parent of a 2010 graduate commented:  “After three years with CMS my daughter is well trained, not only with academics, but a confident young lady as a person and well-prepared for high school.”  Another parent wrote:  “Where to start?  All girls, small classes, challenging curriculum, great families.  [Co-Founder] Marianne Fineberg once said that CMS is the best education concept ever—we agree.”[5]

A parent and co-coach of the CMS Robotics team (which has won the right to compete at the state level for the past four years) summed up the CMS culture perfectly when she wrote:  “[My husband] and I follow the philosophy that to be successful in life you must not only be smart and well-educated, but it is vital to also be a problem solver, a listener, a lifelong student, a teacher, a mentor and a caring, compassionate, honest and hardworking person who is kind and respectful to themselves and others.  I find this philosophy to be alive and nurtured here at CMS.  After speaking with parents of CMS alumni recently and after watching our team perform yesterday, I am convinced that our daughters will take these valuable experiences with them throughout their lives and use the skills they have shared and learned every day.  I am very lucky that my daughter and family can be a part of this special community and family!”[6]

 

[1] “The Benefits of Attending a Girls' School:  What the Research Shows.”  National Coalition of Girls’ Schools, 2008.   <http://www.ncgs.org/aboutgirlsschools/thereasearch/>

[2] Walker, Karen.  “Research Brief:  Single-Sex Classes.”  The Principal’s Partnership,  July 14, 2004.   <http://www.principalspartnership.com/singleclasses.pdf>

[3] Greene, Dr. Jennifer, Jeehae Ahn and Ayesha Boyce.   Science Outreach Projects for Campus Middle School for Girls 2009-2010 Evaluation Report, October 2010.  University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign.

[4] “The Benefits …”

[5] “Evaluation Survey of Campus Middle School; Parent Evaluation Form Summary,” compiled by Carmelita Nussbaum, July 2010.

[6] Wennerdahl, Carrie, e-mail to CMS parents, December 5, 2010.

Our Students Agree!

"CMS is awesome!!!" 6th grade student

"Teachers know me well since it's a small school, and they try to make class fun! I like the social environment here." 8th grade student

"We had lots of whole class discussions and it helped me a lot to develop my thoughts." 8th grade student