Girls entering middle school encounter a period of intense growth and development as they begin the journey toward adulthood. Notre Dame Preparatory School (NDP), a Catholic, all-girls, 6th-12th college preparatory school in Towson, helps girls meet these challenges with a dedicated counselor and academic specialist, and unique programs that enrich their middle school years.

From foreign languages to hands-on coding, engineering and robotics classes, and a multi-faceted performing arts program, the school taps into their students’ many talents, says NDP’s new Middle Level Director Jo Marie Tolj. “It is an incredible opportunity to be part of a school where the focus is on educating girls to become the best versions of themselves, so they can positively impact our world.”

The middle school teachers also foster a caring and nurturing environment as “the fuel that facilitates our mission,” Tolj says. Teachers also show their support beyond the classroom by attending theatre productions, cheering at sporting events and attending other extra-curricular activities, says Jenny Poitras, a 7th and 8th grade social studies teacher and club moderator.

Beyond the classroom, the school’s advisory program helps girls build peer relationships while their counselor helps address the social and emotional concerns that crop up during adolescence. The school helps students learn and prioritize those tasks that are crucial as they enter their college-bound years: staying organized, handling social interactions and honing their emotional intelligence. NDP middle level teachers support this mission while also empathizing with the girls as they navigate these challenging years.

Campus organizations allow girls to pursue their unique interests and develop leadership skills, Poitras says. Calligraphy, Scrabble, Campus Ministry, Spirit Association, and Diversity, Equity & Inclusion are just some examples.

The school’s religious education and weekly prayer stimulate students’ minds and spirit, says middle school parent and alumna Kate Linkous. Linkous’ daughter, Anne Harper, has loved participating on the cross-country and tennis teams, taking dance and piano classes and engaging in a dress-designing competition. “She’s stimulated academically, emotionally, and spiritually every day,” Linkous says.

NDP allows a variety of students to thrive and celebrate their individuality while also feeling connected to a larger community.  “What has also been consistent—as a student, as an alum, and now as a parent — is the sense of joy that you feel when you are on the campus,” Linkous says. “It’s genuine, and I think it stems from both a practiced gratitude, and an overwhelming optimism for the future of the institution and what is possible for each student. That’s the kind of environment that I want my child to learn and grow up in.”

Fun traditions, such as the Halloween parade, field day and a synchronized swim show, connect girls across all grade levels and fill the school with spirit, Tolj says. And that’s the kind of school she wants to lead. Says Tolj, “From the first day of school to the present, I have been impressed with the palpable joy and enthusiasm of NDP’s middle school.”

Founded in 1873, Notre Dame Preparatory School is a Catholic, independent, college preparatory school for approximately 800 girls in grades 6-12.  The School Sisters of Notre Dame sponsor the school, which is dedicated to educating young women to transform the world.

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One reply on “Notre Dame Prep’s Middle School Allows Girls to Become the Best Version of Themselves”

  1. I have nothing but admiration for the teachers and administrators of the NDP Middle Level. They change the world every day, one girl at a time.

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