Academic Excellence

Latin class is one of my daughter’s favorites. Passion for the subject is directly imparted to the students; the class is a full blend of academic skills, creativity, cultural discovery, and even physical action. My daughter values the logical foundation of Latin, and finds herself recognizing its roots in her overall language/reading experience.” —GUS Parent

You will likely encounter few schools that do not, in some way, shape, or form, refer to “academic excellence” as one of their core values.  This should not surprise us, given schools’ primary mission to educate children and prepare them for future success.  Glen Urquhart is no different in this regard; the academic success of our students is foremost among our institutional objectives.

As an institution with strong academics at our center, we take seriously the importance of assessing and evaluating student achievement. Our ability to assess and evaluate academic excellence is therefore central to our ability to measure our success as a school, and there are several ways we accomplish this. We constantly review and revise our curriculum. Teachers embrace a structured, regular process of academic review. Outside reviewers are also invited to GUS to shine a light on our program and keep us attuned to best practices.  Beyond curricular reviews, internal analysis of academic outcomes, including letter grades, standardized test scores, and secondary school placement, at Glen Urquhart, academic excellence includes qualities like curiosity, creativity, compassion, and collaboration among both students and faculty.  GUS recognizes that the leaders of the next generation will need more than just academic skills.  The three “R’s” of reading, writing, and arithmetic are now accompanied by characteristics that will allow students to be innovators in a world that demands creative, new solutions to problems and leaders who are as comfortable in collaborative contexts as they are in those that demand individual excellence.  

One obvious set of external benchmarks are standardized test scores.  Although we are not a school that holds such tests in terribly high regard (as they do not, typically, measure or predict students’ success in real-world contexts), we administer them as one way to reflect on student achievement and compare our students’ performance to others across the country.  On both the ERB (the independent school standard for testing, an instrument more revealing than the public school MCAS) and the SSAT (the test most of our eighth graders take as part of the application process to independent secondary schools), Glen Urquhart students score consistently and significantly higher than students nationally and on par with competitive independent schools in our region.

Placement of our graduates in secondary schools and their success in those schools is another important indicator of our academic excellence.  Last year’s graduating class of thirty students submitted over eighty applications to twenty-eight independent schools in New England and beyond.  The majority of those students attended their first choice of schools, and our experience suggests that they will emerge as leaders in those schools, academically and otherwise.  We are deliberate about maintaining contact with alumni to track and record their success, and the feedback they provide, both empirical and anecdotal, is invaluable to us as we continue to refine and develop our program.  We also receive direct feedback from public and independent schools about the performance of Glen Urquhart graduates.  Without fail, those schools describe our students as well prepared, engaged, confident, and capable.

How Does GUS Teach Reading?

Each day, students in our lower school are immersed in literature and language, with vocabulary tied to the classroom theme. Teachers carefully assess all the members of the class and plan a program of phonics, writing, comprehension, and literature to meet the needs of each child. The goal is for everyone to progress a year or more within a calendar year. Teachers read to students and use concrete experiences to build common vocabulary. They use specific books, games, assignments, and activities to increase each child’s fluency. Young children learn to match their rich oral vocabulary with printed text. Some children, as soon as they make this connection, zoom ahead to read fluently. Teachers fuel their enthusiasm, while trying to ensure they build the important underlying foundation. Other children need more step-by-step instruction. Through carefully planned assignments, they too become avid readers and curious learners.

How Does GUS Teach Mathematics?

Our students learn to have great flexibility in their mathematical thinking through a multi-focused approach that emphasizes the language, concepts, and procedures of mathematics. Teachers in all grades, beginning in kindergarten, utilize common language and consistent models in our carefully developed program. Sophisticated topics are introduced at the primary levels so that students can understand the concept on a concrete level before learning it on a more abstract level. Learning progresses from grade to grade, each year building on the foundation of the year before. Secondary teachers often comment on the advanced understanding of mathematics that our students bring to their classrooms.

The Glen Urquhart Edge

  • Small student/teacher ratio in all grades is never compromised.

  • Two credentialed teachers are in each K-5 classroom.

  • Spanish culture and language instruction is offered in all grades, beginning in kindergarten.  Latin is added in grades 6-8.

  • Art, dance, and music classes, as well as drama classes in upper school, reflect our commitment to the arts and to the value of expression in all forms.

  • Service learning projects beginning in kindergarten and culminating in an eighth grade work week teach students about their global and community responsibilities.

  • Our outdoor classroom, nature trail, and large greenhouse provide perfect settings for environmental and science study.

  • Excellent secondary school placement

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