Mobile Menu Button

The Woods Academy

Where curiosity and confidence thrive.

Upper School Curriculum Overview

Transition from Lower School

Each Upper School student is assigned a teacher advisor, to whom he or she reports every morning and afternoon. The advisor acts as an advocate for each student and serves as a conduit for home-school communication. In addition, the advisor works with the school administration to monitor the academic progress of each student in all subject areas. Advisor groups meet regularly to plan group activities including service projects.

Students experience a departmentalized academic program and move from classroom to classroom. Students are expected to maintain lockers and pass between classes with all necessary materials. Teachers of each subject area offer instruction that meets the needs of all students and challenges each to achieve his or her highest potential.

Dramatic Arts

Students in Grades 7 and 8 explore the fundamentals of dramatic arts from acting, singing, and improve to vocal projection, monologues, and dialogues. Students also learn the various elements of production such as casting, blocking, rehearsing and performing. Throughout this course the students have opportunities to perform their work. The foundation students build in this course is a great asset to the Spring Musical.


Grades 5 & 6

The Woods Academy takes a comprehensive, developmental approach in teaching guidance to our Grade 5 and 6 students. This includes students being presented with developmentally appropriate information related to matters of family life including health, nutrition, hygiene, exercise, physiology, and the biology of their changing bodies according to grade level. The guidance program also includes topics in a broad educational approach designed to support students’ social emotional growth and development. With the changing demands of the 21st century on students at this grade level, curriculum related to internet safety, digital citizenship, bully prevention, social consciousness, character building, and stress management are also incorporated into the program.

Grade 7 & 8

In Grades 7 and 8, students are presented with curriculum that focuses their learning on issues of the 21st century including family life (encompassing values, personal integrity, family systems, community building, diversity/stereotyping, sexuality, relationships, and faith), and The Woods Academy Youth Series (WAYS). The WAYS guidance curriculum presents students with learning that includes mindfulness practices and facts, digital citizenship and internet safety, drug and alcohol use, self-defense, health (wellness and nutrition), also identifying symptoms of anxiety and depression. In addition to the WAYS program, guidance lessons include topics such as embracing diversity (including leadership training for students and staff), conflict resolution, communication skill building and making friends for life. The Director of Guidance, on relevant topics, works in collaboration with the Science Teacher and the Religious Education Teacher in presenting curriculum to the students that deals with aspects of health and values related to the emerging adolescent. In guidance class, Catholic values, rules, and standards are incorporated into our teachings.

Library/ Media Center

Students use the library as an educational resource. They investigate a variety of resources using reference material, books, and computer programs to complete research.

Students regularly check out library materials, and the librarian acts as a resource. Upper school teachers bring classes to the library to prepare projects and presentations.


The Upper School music curriculum draws upon repertoire from various world music traditions as well as our American Musical Theater tradition. Students learn to sing and play together in harmony as they participate in two and three-part singing ensembles, drum circles, and xylophone ensembles. In addition, students explore story-telling and drama skills through plays that include singing, dancing, instrument-playing, props, and costumes.

Overnight Trips

Grade 5 and 6 students spend two days and one night attending an outdoor educational experience led by Bar T. The goal of this trip is to foster a sense of teamwork and build confidence in the students.

Students in Grade 7 go on a three day trip to the Jamestown Settlement, Colonial Williamsburg, and Yorktown Victory Center. The trip is a wonderful opportunity to enhance their study of Colonial America and the Revolutionary War in social studies.

Grade 8 students go on a four day trip to Harpers Ferry National Historic Park, National Civil War Medicine Museum (Frederick, MD), Antietam National Battlefield Park, and Gettysburg National Battlefield Park. The trip is a wonderful opportunity to enhance their study of the Civil War in social studies.

Physical Education

Grades 5 & 6

The Grades 5 and 6 physical education program follows the guidelines developed by the Society of Health And Physical Educators (SHAPE) and its National Standards. In Grades 5 and 6, the students build on the fundamentals they’ve learned in previous years by being taught the technical aspects, principles and knowledge of sports and games, along with strategies and tactics to become successful in class and outside of class.

Grades 7 & 8

The physical education program for Grades 7 and 8 follows the guidelines developed by the Society of Health And Physical Educators (SHAPE) and its National Standards. The Grade 7 and 8 students continue to be taught concepts and strategies throughout these two years. The main focus is to apply what they’ve learned and to use the fundamentals, skills, and knowledge to explore and master what works best for them through their successes and failures. They have the opportunity to refine their skills, concepts, and strategies so when they go to high school, they will be more successful.

Technology Integration

At The Woods Academy, we believe that our students need a solid foundation in technology. This foundation includes understanding how technology works as well as being able to use technology to create. Not only do our classroom teachers integrate technology into their lessons, but an explicit technology curriculum is taught to our students beginning in Preschool.

Visual Arts

In Upper School, the Visual Arts includes the study of art history, analysis, and aesthetic discussions. The program is designed to enable the learner to become visually literate and expressive at a level consistent with his/her intellectual, emotional, and physical development. In order to achieve this, students:

  • Apply writing, reading, and verbal skills,
  • Integrate learning from other subject areas,
  • Use math as a tool for understanding space, quantity, and time,
  • Explore a discrete body of knowledge about art discipline that entails facts, skills, and concepts, and
  • Are exposed to a variety of materials, techniques and skills.

World Language - Spanish and French

In the Upper School, the basic skills of listening, speaking, reading, writing, and cultural awareness continue to be developed with emphasis in all five areas. Grammar is presented formally for reference in practical and functional situations. Each lesson integrates comprehension, self-expression activities, vocabulary topics, grammatical accuracy, and cultural awareness. Culture is embedded in the curriculum and courses rely heavily on authentic sources. The curriculum is structured around thematic units, with each successive year introducing more sophisticated vocabulary and grammatical structures. Students expand their learning and real-world knowledge through communication with native speakers. Exchange programs are being developed with French and Spanish middle-schools that extend the learning beyond the classroom.

Transition to High School

The Upper School academic program prepares all students for the intellectual and social challenges at public, independent, and Catholic high schools.

The Head of School and the High School Placement Coordinator meet with each family to provide support through the high school admission process. Learn more about this process by visiting the High School Placement page.

The Woods Upper School Provides

Small Group Instruction
Overnight Field Trips
One to One Student Devices
Advisor System
Team Building
Varied Student Groupings
Structure and Autonomy
Climate where Students Thrive
Advisor System
Technology Integration
Small Class Sizes