“The students at our school are kind, empathetic, respectful, and hard working. We ask a lot of them, and they rise to the challenge year after year.”
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.
While this section primarily describes teaching and learning in the Upper School from a curricular standpoint, the combination of this challenging and engaging academic experience is significantly enhanced by the culture of student life, as described here. The overall Upper School Experience draws equally from these two components.
Fifth graders enjoy increased independence and responsibility supported by a focus on time management and organizational skills. Highlights of the year are interdisciplinary projects, specifically the Travel Fair, which introduce more formal research and long-term project management. Building on basic foundations in reading, writing and arithmetic, these experiences enable students to develop and sharpen specific skills and strengthen self-confidence as they progress through the Upper School.
Sixth grade is a year of rising expectations. Having grown accustomed to the life and culture of the Upper School and having developed a greater sense of independence, students utilize their burgeoning confidence to navigate their social lives with a maturing awareness of outcomes, to take risks in the classroom, and to discover their passions through extra-curricular involvement. Teachers challenge students with more abstract material that stimulates higher-order thinking. An increase in academic expectations is balanced in a supportive, nurturing environment, as teachers recognize the paradox of the sixth grade mind: confident and increasingly capable, yet fragile and developmentally incomplete.
Seventh Grade is a time of transition, from childhood to adolescence, from elementary school to high school. Consequently, the academic and social experiences provided at St. Edmund’s Academy aim to help students grow as independent learners as they make that developmental leap, within a challenging but supportive environment. Students are presented with more challenging literature in English and more conceptual application in math, and they engage in creative problem-solving tasks in electives. Students are also required to take Latin to strengthen their linguistic skills. At this level, students demonstrate their mastery of the course material by taking final exams in core academic classes. This practice helps to prepare them for the future demands of high school.
The Eighth graders are the leaders of the Upper School. They balance social and academic priorities effectively and are aware of their roles in the community and the impact of their words, actions and ideas. Through greater autonomy, creativity, and leadership development, students confidently and competently work on long-term projects and complete final exams in preparation for the increased expectations of high school. Importantly, eighth grade students carry with them the Core Values of St. Edmund’s Academy to their Secondary Schools and beyond.