Building on a Strong Foundation

Our challenging curriculum begins with a strong emphasis on acquiring foundational skills in Lower School (reading, writing, computation), honing them in Middle School, and using them fluently in High School. One advantage to being a school with grades from Kindergarten through twelfth is the opportunity to carefully plan our content delivery.  The skills we know are necessary in ninth grade are strategically presented and reinforced throughout the earlier years.

We focus heavily on the foundations of language arts  and mathematics and have chosen textbooks and lessons (Open Court curriculum for reading, writing, vocabulary and grammar and Scott-Foresman/Addision-Wesley in mathematics) that provide comprehensive and challenging instruction.

Emphasis on Content

Our curriculum plan also places a strong emphasis on content, i.e. acquiring a wide-ranging body of essential knowledge and concepts. The Core Knowledge approach in the Lower School utilizes a strong content-based curriculum which familiarizes our students with an extensive body of knowledge in all the major Subject areas. The annual Lower School History Night is one example of this approach.

Higher Thinking Skills

Core curriculum in Middle and High School means students enter college having completed a solid course of study in all the major disciplines. The curriculum takes the students through a logical progression of courses in each of the traditional disciplines (English and history, sciences and mathematics, foreign language, fine arts…and theology).  We place a strong emphasis on higher-order thinking skills. This means we don't just engage the simplest thinking skills, such as learning facts and recall, but push every student in the higher order skills including critical thinking, analysis, and problem solving.

Understanding by Design

We also use the Understanding by Design Framework, an approach to lesson planning that focuses first on the key objectives of understanding and designs lessons and content to achieve those objectives.  This framework includes planning for and then assessing students outcomes in the following areas:

  • Can explain: provide thorough, supported, and justifiable accounts of phenomena,facts, and data.
  • Can interpret: tell meaningful stories; offer apt translations; provide a revealing historical or personal dimension to ideas and events; make it personal or accessible through images, anecdotes, analogies, and models.
  • Can apply: effectively use and adapt what we know in diverse contexts.
  • Have perspective: see and hear points of view through critical eyes and ears; see the big picture.
  • Can empathize: find value in what others might find odd, alien, or implausible; perceive sensitively on the basis of prior direct experience.
  • Have self knowledge: perceive the personal style, prejudices, and habits of mind that both shape and impede our own understanding; we are aware of what we do not understand and why understanding is so hard.