The cornerstone of an Academy education is our rigorous academic program. In addition to maintaining high expectations for student achievement, teachers at The Academy teach content about a year ahead of the state standards for each grade level. Much of the curricular content is spiraled throughout the school year and across grade levels, resulting in an excellent foundation of concept mastery for our students. Because of this emphasis placed on deep and meaningful learning, students at The Academy are both prepared and excited to tackle a wide range of intellectual challenges.
This is where our small class sizes and expert teachers really shine. Because we have approximately twelve students in a class K-5 and approximately fifteen students in a class 6-8, our teachers have the ability to assess each student’s understanding on a continual basis and to differentiate instruction accordingly. If a student needs extra support, this need will be identified quickly, communicated to the student’s parents, and parents and teacher will collaborate to identify a learning plan.
The answer to this question is pretty similar to the previous one. Because of our small classes and excellent teachers, students who would benefit from extra challenge in order to remain engaged in school are also easily identified. Staff and faculty at The Academy also understand that in addition to encouraging the intellectual achievement of our students, we are also responsible for encouraging their social and emotional growth. If one aspect of school comes easily to a student, this creates a valuable opportunity to grow in ways that may not come as naturally.
Our French curriculum is designed with just this contingency in mind. While entering an advanced French class with no previous exposure to the language may seem daunting, our instructors understand the inherent challenge and provide extra resources for incoming students. There are also many ways for students with less experience to participate in class through a wide variety of listening, speaking, writing, and reading activities.
People often ask why we teach French at The Academy rather than, say, Spanish or Mandarin, which seem to them more logical choices for a school in the East Bay. At our founding 50 years ago, French formed an integral part of the overall curriculum at The Academy, fitting perfectly with our commitment to classical education due to the dominant place of French in the European intellectual tradition. Today, we maintain French as our language of choice in part to remain faithful to our own history, but primarily because of the window it opens for our students on the worldwide diversity of Francophone culture.
All Upper-School students (Grades 6-8) at The Academy study Latin; by the time they graduate, students will have completed the equivalent of a first-year high school Latin course. The advantages of studying Latin—apart from the intellectual challenge and the delight of reading ancient texts—are manifold, and include a thorough grounding in the Latin roots of the English language (72% of English words derive from Latin), a more comprehensive understanding of grammatical structures in English and the Romance languages, and training in clear, logical thinking. The study of Latin both complements and completes our students’ education, providing them with a firm grasp of the principles of language, the shape of ancient, medieval, and modern history, and the roots of the civic and political institutions of the United States.
Every student at The Academy will have homework each night. Students in kindergarten can expect 5-15 minutes of homework, and assignments often take the form of reading with a parent. Students in our Upper School should expect approximately 90 minutes each night. While homework is incredibly useful for reinforcing material taught during the day and for jump starting conversations to come, our primary goal in assigning homework is to teach our students effective study habits. Time management is an incredibly important skill. If students develop good work routines by the time they leave The Academy, they will be well-prepared for high school and college.
The Academy has been intentional about the size of our school community since our founding in 1969– long before the buzzword “micro school” started to make the rounds! We are committed to small class sizes because we know that individualized attention from expert teachers is the best way for students to learn. The intimate environment allows our students to flourish as citizens of their classroom and members of our community. When students are known and valued as individuals, their social confidence and emotional intelligence has the support to grow. The opportunity to make friends across grade levels also provides an excellent opportunity for our older students to think of themselves as role models. We also have a vibrant and active parent community. Events for parents include monthly social gatherings (daycare provided!) and numerous opportunities to be involved in school activities throughout the course of the year.
We offer aftercare until 6:00 PM each day. During that time, students have the opportunity to choose from a wide range of activities, classes, and structured homework time. Many of our students choose to take music lessons on campus (piano is particularly popular), and students can sign up for a different class every day. We offer cooking, chess, art, and chorus classes each week. Students can also opt to attend a supervised study hall where they can receive help completing their homework.
Our students have a wide range of choices after The Academy. Our faculty and staff are committed to providing all of the information and support necessary for our students to choose the high school (and later, college) that best reflects their talents and goals. Each student is different, and The Academy is fortunate to maintain positive relationships with many Bay Area high schools.
Selection of high schools attended by Academy graduates:
College Preparatory School
Bishop O’Dowd High School
Maybeck High School
Saint Mary’s School
Lick-Wilmerding High School
San Francisco University High School
Selection of colleges attended by Academy graduates: