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The new schedule has the opportunity to really change the learning experience for our students at the Upper School; it provides extended learning periods where students and teachers can engage in the type of learning and instructional approaches that really favor our students and prepare them for a complex and changing world. 

Mike Mallett 
Upper School Director

The Leaders of the Saints

At high schools in every city and every state across this country, students are all focused on one thing: the end of high school. They know that the four years spent in the classroom, on the field, on the stage, in the studios, are all intended to prepare them for the challenges of life beyond their youth. Our students build challenging course schedules, study hard, complete numerous assessments, and participate in a myriad of co-curricular activities to enrich their school experience. We want the very best for our students throughout this important journey to graduation, yet at SSSAS we don’t focus on the end of the journey, but rather the journey itself. We are diligent in curriculum design and co-curricular development; we are intentional in offering superior technology, art, and athletic programs. We offer the best: the best faculty, the best culture, the best community, the best programs. Yet we know we can do more.

We know that offering the best is only one part of preparing our students for college and their future careers. We need to provide a structure to their days that allow for each of them to work hard academically, while also having the time to develop those important meaningful relationships with their classmates and their teachers. They need the opportunity to look up from their studies and their to-do lists and pause to ask themselves, "What else is in my heart? What more can I be?" It is our duty and our privilege to provide our oldest students the opportunities to do more, to consider more, and to breathe deeply and be good, healthy, empathetic citizens of our communities.
 

Becoming Ready

The Upper School schedule that goes into effect for the 2019-2020 school year is designed to allow our Upper School students to be prepared for the challenges of college and to discover their best innovative, athletic, artistic, selves. And most importantly, it allows them the time and the space to consider other interests and to become involved in new things. We believe deeply that each of our students has abilities and talents far exceeding what they might believe possible. The framework of our new schedule offers students the time for discovery, deeper learning, and more chances—more chances to create, to innovate, to collaborate, and to excel. The schedule was developed using five guiding principles: quality learning time, healthy pace for students, collaboration time, community time, and access to program.

Quality Learning Time
The new schedule runs on a eight day cycle, with classes meeting every other day and rotating vertically through the schedule. That means students will have no more than four academic classes per day (which means students will have two nights to complete homework for their classes), and these classes will meet for longer periods of time allowing for more group work, in-class projects, collaboration, and discussions that will prepare them for their courses in college and their future work environments. And because classes will not always meet at the same time of the day, those classes that tend to always be the ones affected by earlier dismissals or late arrivals will no longer be regularly impacted.

Healthy Pace for Students
If we want our students to thrive, to stretch themselves, to consider more than how many books they can fit in their bag so they don't have to stop at their locker before the next two classes, then we need to thoughtfully consider how they are moving from place to place. As such, in the new schedule the time between classes will be longer, allowing students to move at a healthier pace, to stop and say hi to a friend, to pop in and let a teacher know they would love to connect later in the day about an upcoming quiz. Each day there is a 65-minute period dedicated to STAT (student teacher appointment time) and lunch. This longer period allows time for students to connect with their teachers and to catch up and decompress with friends for lunch. The day is smoother; it is healthier. The students are at the center of the schedule, rather than trying to catch up to it.

Access to Program
In the new schedule, students will have the opportunity to take six or seven classes, which means a student can, in addition to the core classes required at each grade level, take a class simply because they want to. Because the subject matter is interesting. Because they want to know more about Mandarin, ceramics, statistics, 3D printing or Social Entrepreneurship. And all students will have at least one free period in their schedule that will give them time to meet with their advisor or college counselor, visit the academic center, or tackle some homework or prepare for a test. Additionally, because there is an academic class adjacent to the STAT and lunch period, teachers and students will have the time necessary for off-campus learning experiences.

Community Time
We are committed to ensuring our students and teachers continue to have opportunities to come together as a community, to share perspectives and experiences, and to listen and learn from one another. Community time at the end of each day offers dedicated time for clubs and class meetings, and Chapel will continue to be held weekly, as it is a sacred and special time for our community. It is also important for our teachers to have the opportunity to come together for conversation and collaboration. Each morning before the start of the school day, teachers and administrators will participate in a Professional Learning Community (PLC). The PLCs will enable teams of teachers and administrators to connect in a regular and dedicated way to plan together, reflect on and revise curriculum, evaluate assessment data, and collaborate to support students. The PLC period will also enable teachers to participate in committee work focusing on whole school initiatives, planning, and curriculum development. This time together for the teachers will tremendously increase the impact they will be able to have on individual students and their needs.

Collaboration Time
The new schedule has designated time for STAT providing invaluable opportunities for students to connect with their teachers and each other. Additionally, the extended class periods naturally increase opportunities for students to work with one another and with their teacher in the moments of learning in the classroom, without the disruption of needing to move on to another class.
 

Upper School Daily Schedule

  • 8-Day Rotating Schedule
  • 8:20 a.m. School Day Begins
  • 3:15 p.m. School Day Ends
  • 75-minute Class Periods
  • Classes meet every other day
  • STAT and Lunch Combined in 65-minute Period
  • Dedicated Community Time
  • Chapel every Wednesday 
       

Upper School Schedule FAQs

List of 11 frequently asked questions.

  • How will students and families know which day of the cycle it is?

    Each day of the 2019-2020 academic year will be associated with one of the eight days in the 8-day rotation. The cycle days will be communicated on both the print and online calendars.
  • How does an 8-day rotating schedule work?

    In our new daily schedule, classes will meet every other day. Students will have a maximum of four classes per day, and each period will be 75 minutes. The periods A, B, C, and D will meet one day, and the periods E, F, G, and H will meet the next day. The classes will rotate through the schedule so that classes will not meet at the same time each day. This reduces the effect of early dismissals; in our current schedule, for example, periods F and G are disproportionately affected by early athletic dismissals. 
  • How will the new schedule change Chapel and Advisory?

    In the new schedule, Chapel will still be held on Wednesdays at the same time as in our current schedule. Advisory will also meet on Wednesday. We feel that grouping these two elements of our program will enhance the sense of community at the Upper School.
  • What will lunch be like in the new schedule?

    In the new schedule, STAT and Lunch are combined in a 65-minute period. Students may choose to consult with their teachers during STAT and then spend the rest of the 65-minute period eating lunch and visiting with friends.
  • What will the impact be on a student's workload?

    Since classes meet every other day, students will have two nights to complete their work before the next class meeting. We feel that this will reduce student stress as they will have more time to complete their work.
  • Since classes meet every other day, won’t teachers just double the amount of homework?

    No. We have been working closely with the Department Chairs and we have agreed on the following understanding with respect to homework. Teachers may assign 30 minutes of homework in preparation for the next class. For AP and Honors level classes, the homework expectation can be elevated to 45-60 minutes in preparation for the next class. We would expect students to be working on 1.5 to 2 hours of homework each night.
  • How will you make sure students don’t have too many tests, papers, or major projects due at the same time?

    In alignment with our current program, students are not expected to complete three major assignments on any given day.  The ‘Major Assignment’ rule states that students are exempt from completing three major summative assessments such as exams, tests, and papers on a single day.  Teachers work collaboratively with their students and with their colleagues in an effort to balance a student's workload.
  • How will exams be affected in the new schedule?

    There are no plans to change exams from the model we are currently using. There will be fall semester exams in December and spring semester exams in May.
  • What will the impact be on extra-curricular activities?

    In both the current schedule and the new daily schedule, the school day will conclude at 3:15 p.m. We do not anticipate any impact on extra-curricular activities.
  • How will the new schedule affect the course selection process?

    Similar to our current process, students will select courses with the guidance of their parents, advisor, and college counselor. In the new schedule, however, students will have the opportunity to select an additional class. We hope that providing another ‘carrier’ in our new daily schedule will provide greater access to our exceptional academic program for our students. With this additional period in the schedule, students can have a maximum of seven classes. All students will have one unscheduled free period. Currently, nearly all of our students are taking six classes in our seven period schedule. The additional period in the new schedule is intended to provide greater access to our program.
  • Will seniors still be afforded Senior privileges in the new schedule?

    Yes. The new schedule does not impact or modify Senior privileges.

JK-12 Schedule FAQs

List of 3 frequently asked questions.

  • What is a Professional Learning Community?

    PLC stands for a Professional Learning Community. These meetings provide a regular and predictable opportunity for teachers to work collaboratively to develop and refine curriculum. Vibrant and robust PLC programs have been shown to improve the learning experiences of students and have been shown to elevate student achievement in several studies.
  • What happens in the event of a snow day?

    The daily rotation continues, skipping that particular day in the cycle. For example, if school is closed on Day 2 and 3, when the students return to school they would follow the schedule for Day 4 of the cycle. 
  • What was the process for developing the new schedule?

    The schedule revision work was an intensive 24-month process that began in 2016. The work was lead by a collaborative team comprised of faculty and administrators and assisted through the counsel of an external schedule consultant. In advance of the design work, the faculty developed two important framing documents (i.e., Hallmarks of Teaching Excellence and Values of Time) that were aligned with the mission of the school. These documents helped us set revision priorities and guided our thinking during the process. Our faculty and students completed climate and culture surveys, developed by Independent School Management, to help us better understand the needs of students in our community. Our faculty also ‘shadowed’ students to experience the daily schedule from a students perspective. From this work, a set of five guiding principles emerged that would drive the schedule revision process: Access to Program, Community Time, Maximize Quality Learning Time, Collaboration Time, and Healthy Pace for Students.
Age 3-Grade 12 coed Episcopal day school in Alexandria, Virginia

Campuses

List of 3 items.

  • Lower School

    Age 3-Grade 5
    400 Fontaine Street
    Alexandria, Virginia 22302
  • Middle School

    Grades: 6-8
    4401 West Braddock Road
    Alexandria, Virginia 22304
  • Upper School

    Grades: 9-12
    1000 St. Stephen's Road
    Alexandria, Virginia 22304