The guiding principle that we express to students, advisors and parents regarding a student’s course load is that the goal should be success in a challenging curriculum. As a college preparatory school, we want our students to present well as they apply to colleges, and college admission officers want to see that students have challenged themselves. In other words, successful completion of a high school education is not and should not be based on completing a minimum of required courses or the lowest possible number of credits. Our students find, and are encouraged to embrace, challenge in every class and at each grade level.
All academic classes at Marvelwood are year-long courses. Elective courses are offered by the term, but many may be taken for one, two or three terms. The Academic Dean individually determines each student’s schedule based on course selection materials completed over the summer, and in conjunction with a review of each student’s file, transcript, and classes required for graduation. This customized approach ensures that each student progresses at a pace that is appropriate for him or her, individually.
EmPOWER, a highly visual, research-based system for supporting students' development as writers, is an intrinsic part of our academic program. Marvelwood teachers use EmPOWER to support students on many levels, including to organizing and visualizing new information, taking notes, and planning and polishing writing assignments. Developing and utilizing EmPOWER strategies helps to increase student independence and ownership of their writing and learning.
Architects for Learning, the creators of EmPOWER, describe it as "an instructional routine for teaching expository writing in all grades and school subjects. It incorporates a set of strategies for navigating the writing process within six steps that build on one another in a flexible and dynamic way...Teachers weave its steps and strategies through their own curriculum to meet their own unique writing instruction goals. With EmPOWER in the classroom, writing takes its rightful place as a vehicle for inquiry, higher-level thinking, and learning, and empowers teachers to take their students where they want them to go as writers."