Welcome to Lake Washington Girls Middle School

Our Mission is to prepare girls to be confident young women, who are strong in mind, body, and voice. Our school was founded by a small group of Seattle parents who believed that middle school could be a time for girls to thrive and grow. The founders knew that this particular time in a girl’s life is crucial as well as ripe with possibilities. Given an environment designed to cultivate sense of self, community, and intellectual curiosity, girls can realize their potential and power.

At LWGMS, we know that girls and women have immense potential. We see girls succeeding every day. However, at this time, women remain underrepresented in many arenas. Corporate boards of Fortune 500 companies are 84% men and 16% women. Women hold only 17% of the seats in Congress. Women make 81 cents on the dollar that men make. In US films in the past year, 11%  of the protagonists were women. A vast majority of STEM doctoral degrees are awarded to men, and 90% of mathematics faculty at universities are men.

Researcher Carol Dweck recently investigated why might women decide to pursue the math field. She and her fellow researchers found that a primary indicator of whether a girl would enroll in math courses or pursue math fields was not  her historic success in math but her perception that she belongs to an academic community, where her voice is valued, and where her teachers treat her as though she belongs there. This research highlights why girls schools are so important, especially during the middle school years when a sense of belonging and peer identity trumps most other identify formation -- even family approval.

At LWGMS, every one who is good at math – or the other STEM subjects – is a girl. Additionally, every leader is a girl. Every team captain is a girl. Every student body president, star of the play, and essay contest winner is a girl. Every hand raised in class belongs to a girl. A girl can see herself reflected in the girls and women around her. What better way to foster a sense of belonging – to allow a girl to see herself as an athlete, a performer, an artist, a mathematician, a scientist, a martial artist – than to spend your days in an academic community where everyone does all of those things and supports each other as they explore each avenue?

Since our founding, we have prioritized balancing academic life with social and emotional learning. We know that relationships are important to girls and we strive to foster relationships within our school day. Our schedule is built so that there is a Community Period each day, which allows people to connect with each other. Those periods are class meetings, all school Monday Morning Meetings, clubs, or R&R group meetings. The R&R program allows for mixed grade sister groups to connect with a small group of girls and adult advisors, sharing a snack together twice a week and a lunch together once a month. Additionally, girls take a three year course in Fuel for Thought, which approaches goal setting, social awareness, decision making, and the cultivation of executive function. We give girls lots of chances to try things that are difficult, allowing them to experience challenges and embrace appropriate risk to develop resilience.

We believe connections of all kinds are important. While our classes are taught as separate academic subjects by experts in their fields, the concepts and skills are related and integrated, as they are in the real world. Themes for each grade – Parts of a Whole in sixth grade, Systems and Values in seventh grade, and Cause and Effect in eighth grade – shape the curriculum so that there are no “silos” of disconnected learning. Additionally, each student takes a year long STEAM class and a year long visual arts class every year, where hands on projects are connected to learning in other classes.

The L-Dub focus on the whole girl, relationships, and resilience has produced several hundred highly successful alumnae. Our graduates report that they left LWGMS well prepared for high school – both academically and socially. A vast majority of our alumnae go on to take honors and AP classes, to participate in international travel or study abroad (to Spanish-speaking countries, in most cases), and to be involved in leadership positions in high school and college sports, clubs, and governments. Those who are beyond college age are successful in their professional lives, bringing their L-Dub confidence and competence to nonprofit organizations, hospitals, law firms, schools, and businesses around the world.

Thank you again for your interest in Lake Washington Girls Middle School. Please explore our website or visit our school to learn more about who we are.

Best regards,

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Patti Hearn
Head of School


The Story of Our Name

Here are some answers to questions we often hear about our school name.

Q: Why was Lake Washington Girls Middle School chosen as a name?

A: The founding families wanted a school name that reflected their South Seattle community, so Lake Washington was chosen as the regional signifier. They thought it was important that “girls” was in the name as a descriptor and that “middle school”, rather than simply “school”, needed to be in the name to signify our commitment to these important years.

Q: Should there be an apostrophe in the school name?

A: We love this question for the grammar lesson we get to do in response! In our school name, “Girls” is an adjective that describes what kind of school LWGMS is. It does not indicate the plural possessive “Girls’”. Think of Teachers College at Columbia University. “Teachers” describes what kind of college it is, but the teachers don't own the college so there's no apostrophe necessary. For more about apostrophes, check out Grammar Girl.

 

Q: What is "L-Dub" all about?

A: Lake Washington Girls Middle School is a long name. Even our acronym, LWGMS, is a lot of syllables to say. So, a few years ago some students started shortening LWGMS to L-Dub. Some credit the class of 2004 and some credit the class of 2005 for this ingenious abbreviation, which has been embraced by our whole community. Even our student magazine is called "L Dub" in honor of this nickname.

Q: What is the sports team mascot name?

A: The sports teams are "Fuerza". Since it is the LWGMS mission to teach girls to be strong in mind, body, and voice, our teams are called the Fuerza, which is the Spanish word for strength. The team mascot name was chosen by the student body in 2004.