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Lower Merion School District


Summer 2021 - Vol. IV

New Middle School Update Banner - July 2021

Construction Update

On June 3, 2021, a Topping Off ceremony was held for Lower Merion School District’s new middle school, which is under construction at 1860 Montgomery Ave. in Villanova. The school is set to open in Sept. 2022.

The new middle school will serve students in grades 5-8 from the Penn Wynne and Gladwyne elementary school attendance areas. Its physical design was inspired by the District’s Strategic Plan, All Forward, with flexible learning communities dedicated to collaboration and small group learning. The school will help ease crowding across all of the District’s elementary and middle schools. When it opens, grade five will move from the elementary to middle level across the District and the middle school population will be spread among three schools rather than the current two.

A highlight of the Topping Off was the participation of the New Middle School Ambassadors, current third and fourth graders from Penn Wynne and Gladwyne elementary schools, who will be among the school’s first students. The Ambassadors had visited the school site and watched demolition work prior to the COVID-19 pandemic. They returned to sign the beam that was lifted to the top of the building to mark the completion of the steel work for the structure.

New Middle School Ambassadors

The New Middle School Ambassadors from Penn Wynne and Gladwyne.

Superintendent Robert Copeland joined members of the Lower Merion Board of School Directors and Administrators for the event. He thanked IMC Construction; project construction manager Sitelogiq; architect Spiezle Architectural Group, Inc. and Fielding International; civil engineer Chester Valley Engineers; MEP engineer Snyder Hoffman Associates; and structural engineer Baker, Ingram, & Associates.

Board President Lucy Klain thanked the taxpayers of Lower Merion and Narberth for supporting education in our community. She added the school will do much more than alleviate crowding. “It was imperative that this school not just complement, but also advance, the goals of our Strategic Plan, All Forward, which is the document that governs all that we do, every decision that we make,” she said.

School Board Members

Members of the LMSD Board of School Directors gather for a picture at the Topping Off Ceremony.

“The students and staff in this school won’t just have classrooms, they’ll have learning communities, which will provide flexible spaces for individual work, and small and large group collaboration. The library will be a full media center – not tucked away but right in the middle of the building. The gathering stairs will allow plenty of space for socializing and the rooms that open to the courtyard will allow students and teachers to move outside the building’s walls. Features like these will help us continue to move our goals of transformative curriculum and honoring student voice from aspiration to reality,” she concluded.

Click here or on the image below to watch highlights from the Topping Off Ceremony!

Topping Off Ceremony Video

Sarah Stout Named Principal

At the June 14, 2021, meeting of the Lower Merion Board of School Directors, the Board accepted Superintendent Robert Copeland’s recommendation to appoint Ms. Sarah Stout to become principal of the new middle school.

Ms. Stout has served as principal of Bala Cynwyd Middle School for the past two years. Prior to that, she was assistant principal at Welsh Valley Middle School for six years. She was also an administrator in the Hatboro-Horsham School District and a middle school social studies teacher in Cheltenham. Ms. Stout will continue in her role at BCMS, until a search for her successor can be completed, which is anticipated to occur in fall 2021.

Sarah Stout

Ms. Stout is an integral member of the District’s 5-8 committee, working to reimagine the curriculum and culture across our middle schools, once the new school opens in September 2022. She has also worked extensively on LMSD initiatives including the Achievement Imperative Task Force, Professional Development implementation and as a Pathway leader for our Strategic Plan, All Forward.

Regarding her new position, Ms. Stout said, “Thank you to the Lower Merion School District Board of School Directors and Mr. Copeland for this truly once in a lifetime opportunity. Relationships are essential in all aspects of education, and I had the privilege of fostering relationships at both Bala Cynwyd and Welsh Valley. I look forward to building on these relationships as we work collaboratively with students and their families to create a new community of learners in a beautiful, innovative new building.”

Supt. Copeland added, “I am confident that Ms. Stout will bring the enthusiasm, caring, knowledge and experience that has made her so beloved in the District to the new middle school. She is an ideal candidate to move the strategic vision of our newest school from aspiration to reality.”

Ms. Stout and her husband have two daughters. She’s an avid sports fan, especially of the Nittany Lions, who enjoys skiing and cooking. And she’s working to complete a doctorate program in educational leadership.

Transition Plan Approved

Also at the June 14, 2021, meeting the Board approved the Administration’s recommendation for how students will transition into the new middle school, confirming it will open as a fully occupied and utilized school. All students in grades 5-8 who live in the Penn Wynne and Gladwyne elementary school catchments will attend the new school in September 2022. At the same time, all other 5th and 6th graders will also start middle school at either Welsh Valley (for students from students from Belmont Hills and Penn Valley) or Bala Cynwyd (for students from Cynwyd and Merion). All elementary schools will become K-4 schools.

Dr. Kristina Paul, special assistant to the superintendent for program evaluation; Dr. Alexis McGloin, assistant superintendent; and Dr. Jennifer Gaudioso, elementary curriculum director, explained the benefits of the plan. The slide deck from their presentation can be viewed in BoardDocs and a video of their entire presentation can be viewed on the "View Recent Meetings " page of the District website.

Stay tuned this fall for information on naming the new school and choosing the school colors and mascot!