Middle School

ted chen head of middle school 2019

Meet Ted Chen, Head of Middle School

“Having a caring, kind, and ethical school community is the foundation of education. That’s when learning takes place at its highest levels.”

Head of Middle School Ted Chen believes that students thrive when they feel cared for, safe, and are known by the adults in their lives. This takes place when educators build relationships that are beyond knowing a student’s academic self, but knowing a student in multi-faceted ways—knowing their physical, intellectual, social-emotional, and academic selves. With this knowledge of students, educators are not just teachers and instructors, but also facilitators of students’ journeys; allowing students to become empowered in their own their learning process and understanding of themselves. 

As students start to understand themselves and embrace their values, they are “moving from moral awareness to moral identity,” he says, “and they figure it out with our guidance, our help, and our safety nets.” The development of their moral identity and ethical spirits contribute to the caring, kind, ethical community that facilitates high-level teaching and learning, allowing students to thrive.

Raised in a family of educators, Ted earned his B.A. in history from the University of Michigan and his Ed.M. from Harvard Graduate School of Education. He spent the first six years of his career as a middle school history teacher, coach, and advisor at Park School in Massachusetts and the Kingswood Oxford School in Connecticut.

Ted spent the next decade at Lakeside School in Seattle, where he initially taught middle school history and was a grade level coordinator, and then moved into administration. He served as Lakeside’s Assistant Head of Middle School and a department chair for six years.

“Students need to be safe and comfortable to be able to thrive,” Ted says. “And one of the best ways to build a safe, caring, and ethical community is to be proactive. That means messaging to students what is important to us—that we value learning, that we value a caring community, and that we value each and every single student.”

Welcome to the Middle School from Ted Chen

Catlin Gabel Middle School is a lively and caring environment, where inspired learning and teaching take place both inside and outside of the classroom. Students demonstrate their content knowledge, understanding of their learning processes, and curiosity about the world and how it works.

As in all divisions at Catlin Gabel, the Middle School is based on the whole child approach to learning. We equip student with the skills, dispositions, and competencies to successfully navigate the world, make values-based decisions, and live a healthy life.

To facilitate the whole child approach, educators in the Middle School strive to know every student.  They build strong relationships with them, understanding each student’s strengths and areas for growth.  This enables the adults to help students continue to grow and develop, preparing them for the future.

We believe that each student is an individual, on their journey of finding out who they are, how they learn, and what they are passionate about.  We guide them through this, providing them with opportunities to stretch themselves and increase their sense of self.  This is a time when students are figuring out who they are as individuals and in community, and experimenting with the idea of their identity. We encourage them to explore these ideas, appreciate differences, and develop healthy relationships.

Middle School teachers at Catlin Gabel are experts in their subject area, and skilled at collaborating with colleagues to provide cross-disciplinary learning experiences. A broad curriculum ensures that students engage in a variety of courses that deepen their understanding, expand their perspective, and inspire them to think critically and creatively.  And most importantly they connect deeply with their students, caring for them and utilizing the whole child approach.

- Ted Chen, Head of Middle School