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Upper School Academics

Girard College Upper School provides solid, comprehensive academic preparation for children in grades seven through twelve. Small groupings of no more than 20 students per class create an intimate setting for learning.

Upper School students have the following subjects: art, computer science, English, health, math, music, science, social studies, and French, Latin or Spanish. Numerous electives exist in grades 9-12 such as Etymology or Intro to American Film.

 

Facing Global Challenges

Globally, students face more challenges than ever before – especially issues they must deal with outside of school. It is our job as educators to provide a safe and encouraging environment inside the classroom so that our students will be able to focus, be exposed to, experience, and internalize those things that will make them more resilient, curious, creative and productive – despite everything else going on in life.

In her investiture speech in October 2009, then-President Autumn Graves stated her goal that Girard would become "the premier institution for effective urban education." Working toward being identified as a leader in curriculum design and workforce development for the 21st-century economy, we have initiated several programs of note:

  • Step Up To STEM: This program builds Science, Technology, Engineering and Math ("STEM") skills beginning in the elementary grades. Step Up To STEM will increase students' critical thinking and problem-solving skills, boost college preparedness in science, technology, engineering, and math-related fields and prepare students to meet the demands of the high-tech, highly skilled workforce that they will enter.
  • Physics First: Physics First calls for a resequencing of high school courses so that students study physics before chemistry and biology. Physics First is recognized as best practice at leading independent schools; it is strongly endorsed by the American Association of Physics Teachers; and it is central to advancing STEM education.

What does it mean to be a Girard College Upper School student?

It means being part of a community that strives for excellence at every opportunity, seeing and valuing the college preparatory education we offer as the path to a better future. It means learning from one's mistakes. It means believing in and living Girard's core values of respect, responsibility, integrity, self-discipline and compassion to make our school and our world a better place.

More research is done every year regarding how students learn. Across-the-board evidence supports that students learn in multiple ways, most of all by doing. At Girard College Upper School, we support a performance-based curriculum, and encourage our students to "show us what you know." We believe in service learning: our students must complete 40 hours of community service during their junior year. Our students are exposed to a multitude of such off-campus learning opportunities as sessions of City Hall government, civic rallies, foreign travel, Philadelphia's many art and cultural establishments, and the Senior Project work-study internship required for graduation.

What does it mean to be an adult member of the Girard College Community? It means all of the same things that it means to be a Girard student. It also means realizing the uniqueness, character, intelligence and potential of each of our students and co-workers. It means constantly striving to improve our profession and do better by those we are charged to educate. It means recognizing our students' energy (or occasionally, lack thereof!), their different and unique learning styles, their need for, and sense of, fairness. It means that while we have high expectations of our students and ourselves, we realize that students are still kids and we are all human. We all strive to create an atmosphere of cooperation and support, and find a balance between the needs of the school community as a whole and as individuals.

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