Upper School

Grades 5th - 8th
An appreciation for character and scholarship inspires teaching and learning in the Upper School. The Upper School fosters a challenging and supportive environment where students discover their strengths as well as the strengths of others. With increased confidence and social awareness, students build on strong foundations to become competent in critical thinking, communication, collaboration, creativity, and cosmopolitanism. Students carry with them the knowledge and skills necessary for success in the 21st century. 

Teachers are dedicated to bringing out the best in students. The Upper School experience is designed to develop the capacities of each individual. Through personalized support and effective practices, teachers connect with students to facilitate meaningful and transformational learning. Students take ownership of their learning and are offered more opportunities to make choices than in traditional educational environments so that they can, with adult support and encouragement, understand natural consequences in the decision-making process. Through this approach, students acquire work and organizational habits best suited for their individual learning styles and they are empowered to self-advocate at a maturity level not typically found in students of this age range. 

English Language Arts

The Upper School ELA program extends the foundational literacy skills developed in Lower School challenging students to read novels, poetry, and informational texts and respond to them through critical analysis essays and class discussions. Students engage in deep study of topics and themes for weeks and a time, closely reading authentic texts and collaborating in book clubs while also maintaining their own independent reading. Over the course of four years students develop their ability to complete original research, culminating in their 8th Grade research paper.


The SEA mathematics program is a remarkably rigorous course of study. After completing the Math in Focus curriculum students will begin to take Pre-Algebra in 6th or 7th Grade depending on their readiness. All students will graduate from SEA having completed Algebra with many students completing Geometry, a distinction true a small minority of 8th Graders in the country.

Science & Engineering

The Science & Engineering Program emphasizes engaging experiences for Upper School students. Through hands-on experiences like collecting water samples in Schenley Park in collaboration with the Creek Connections program, students build foundational content knowledge across the subdisciplines of science. With two dedicated laboratories, one for traditional science and one for engineering and design, students have frequent opportunities to apply their knowledge of the scientific method and design thinking.

Social Studies

In 5th and 6th Grades students complete a two-year course of study in World History, building global awareness, nonfiction reading literacy skills, and geographic knowledge. In 7th and 8th Grades students return their attention to the United States in an innovative, thematically organized course. The curriculum presents students with open-ended questions like “What is American democracy and what should it be?” From there students study roughly a dozen primary sources spanning American history to inform their original answer to the question, building both historical knowledge and the decision-making skills required for meaningful citizenship. 

World Languages

As they begin 5th Grade, students are invited to choose a four-year course of study in French or Spanish. Both language courses emphasize traditional literacy through reading, writing, speaking and the development of cultural literacy through special projects. In 7th and 8th grades students take national exams to test their proficiency and earn distinctions. After completing the program, students are prepared to place in second or third level courses in secondary school.

In 7th and 8th Grade students study Latin. Designed as a corollary to the language skills that students acquire in the ELA and modern language classrooms, the Latin course explores more deeply those linguistic elements of grammar and syntax that are common to all languages. The objective of the course is to gain foundational proficiency in translation that will prepare students for reading authors in their original Latin at the high school level; however, emphasis is also placed on derivatives and English etymology, as well as the lessons that modernity can learn by analyzing the ancient world.
Guided by our Core Values and commitment to high standards, St. Edmund’s Academy provides a diverse, inclusive, and nurturing learning community where students are known, valued, and challenged to achieve their potential.