A literature-based curriculum is the foundation for the rigorous program of studies offered to Powhatan School’s Upper School students. Consisting of grades five to eight, with each grade divided into two sections of up to sixteen students, the Upper School seeks to prepare students to be academically successful at the high school level as well as socially skilled, community minded, and civically and environmentally responsible.
Reading, writing, and higher-level thinking skills are emphasized in all subject areas. The core curriculum consists of English, science, social studies, math, and foreign languages. These subjects are complemented by studies in art, music, drama, public speaking, computer technology, as well as team and individual sports. A Nature-Enhanced Approach to Learning (NEAL) is also an important component of the Powhatan learning experience and is embedded in all areas of our curriculum. NEAL gives students hands-on experiences in ecology and develops a love of nature and a desire to protect the environment.
The academic day is divided into six instructional periods and one sports period. Technology is used extensively in the teaching and learning processes.
English studies emphasize reading, writing, thinking, and creativity. Students are exposed to a wide range of literature genres and are required to complete a significant amount of independent reading during the regular school year and in the summer months when school is not in session. We believe that writing extensively is at the heart of teaching thinking skills and developing creativity and confidence.
Social studies is taught thematically. Areas studied include ancient civilizations, medieval history, major religions, economics, civics, and geography. Students study American, European, Asian, African, and Middle Eastern history as well.
Upper School students study Spanish as a world language requirement. Upon graduation, our students are prepared to enter high school in the second or third year of the language they studied.
The math classes are developmentally grouped, and students may complete high school Algebra I and Geometry at Powhatan.
Science students study physical science, earth science, life science, and ecology in a sequentially based curriculum.
Mentored by an excellent faculty in a student-centered environment where cultural diversity is valued and intellectual curiosity is central, Powhatan offers students the opportunity to excel in an environment that nurtures them as individuals and prepares them for success as they continue their education.
Fifth grade is a transition year. It bridges the Lower School and Upper School to prepare students for their middle school years. While classes continue in the Lower School model of having a single classroom teacher for core content (language arts, math and social studies) students begin to take Specials classes with the Upper School Specials teachers for Spanish, art, and music, a formal library class once a week, sports, and technology instruction.