In an Upper School inquiry-based learning classroom, the teacher does not stand at the front of the room talking at students but rather shares the same round table as his/her students, or watches over the shoulders of a small group of collaborators. Each member of the class—student and teacher alike—takes responsibility for the learning of the entire group. The teacher functions as expert when necessary, but also encourages student inquiry and skillfully facilitates purposeful conversations and structured problem solving.
Upper School students pursue a challenging college-preparatory program with requirements in English, history, mathematics, science, world languages, computer science, the arts, and physical education. Core courses such as algebra, American history, and biology pave the way for advanced electives including Irish literature, advanced programming, and human genetics.
The curriculum and academic cycle also have flexibility to allow for collaborative work during the school day, access to teachers, and by 11th and 12th grade—multiple electives in several academic disciplines as well as the arts, independent studies, and time to focus on an intensive academic, professional, and/or creative pursuit before graduation.
As a strong academic foundation is carefully constructed, independent thought and imaginative problem solving are also purposefully cultivated. Students are encouraged to reach for ever-greater levels of excellence in their coursework, and to discover new strengths and interests as they deepen their knowledge base.
Both in and out of the classroom, students are supported in their quest to explore their interests, take intellectual risks, and push themselves beyond their comfort zones. As independence grows, responsibility for self and the community is emphasized and recognized. Students are encouraged to seek leadership opportunities in the classroom, on the field and stage, and in a wide range of extracurricular pursuits.