ISIR introduced to Middle School


Printed with permission of Jordan Church

ISIR IN SESSION: The Kutler Center celebrated 10 years of ISIR this year. Now, an ISIR department is being introduced to the Middle School.

Davis Marks

Head of Middle School Jon Wimbish announced the creation of an Interdisciplinary Studies and Independent Research (ISIR) department at the Middle School in February. English Teacher Ryan Wilson will serve as the chair of this newly established department.

The school created the Kutler Center and ISIR department to honor Brendan Kutler’s ’10 passion for multidisciplinary studies, following his death in 2009. Since the opening of the Kutler Center in 2012, the ISIR department has exclusively served upper school students.

Wilson said the middle school ISIR department will provide middle school students with the opportunity to explore new and interesting topics.

“The ISIR department is all about celebrating your intellectual interests and sharing what you’ve learned in a creative way,” Wilson said. “That kind of academic experience certainly can and should be open to middle school students.”

Wilson said he hopes the new ISIR department encourages students to develop new interests and skills.

“What our ISIR classes will all do is give students the chance to collaborate and present on culturally relevant topics,” Wilson said. “The hope is that this department-wide approach will help develop a set of collaborative and presentational skills, and, more importantly, middle school students will enjoy it and feel genuinely engaged. We all want to keep growing and contributing when we feel excited by what we’re learning.”

President Rick Commons said the presence of the ISIR department on both campuses allows the school to embrace new educational ideas while still maintaining its academic traditions. 

“I think that we are a traditional school academically, yet we want to be a place where innovative and interdisciplinary thinking are a part of every student’s experience,” Commons said. “Having interdisciplinary studies as a department enables us to meet students and the evolving world of education where they are right now. When you have a school that follows a traditional curriculum, it can be hard, but the ISIR department allows us to do that. It’s exciting that we’re going outside the bounds of the traditional, even as we maintain our long standing departments.”