WE CAN DO THAT.

We are a traditional boarding school with non-traditional approaches to college-preparatory learning. For us, teaching is personal. We know our students well, and we are skilled at intentionally directing (and sometimes redirecting) instruction that will connect with their unique skills and personalities. We have the flexibility to react to their needs, interests, and strengths in order to create exceptional learning experiences that empower and engage. This flexibility means that everyone in our community—from students to faculty to administration—can experience the freedom of thought and expression that brings meaning to everything we do.

THIS IS NOT HIGH SCHOOL “BY THE BOOKS.”

At Marvelwood, we believe that learning is a lifelong journey of exploration and discovery. While traditional academics lean toward passive learning, Marvelwood academics are experiential, active, and hands-on. Our faculty thoughtfully and intentionally design a customized curriculum that engages students of varying skill sets and learning styles. We believe that it is not memorization, but rather understanding and inquiry that will support our students throughout a lifetime of learning and discovery.

Academic Philosophy & Curriculum

At Marvelwood, we believe in accommodating abilities, talents, interests and learning styles as much as possible as students progress through our academic program. Curriculum is organized into the following academic divisions: Humanities (English and History), World Languages, Science, Mathematics, Arts, and English as a Second Language (ESL). Community Service plays an important role in Marvelwood's academic program, as well.

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.

Humanities
World Languages
Science
Mathematics
Arts
English as a Second Language (ESL)

Humanities

ENGLISH

The English department at Marvelwood School seeks to inspire a lifelong love of learning. Our approach to teaching English is oriented towards the individual through small classes. We strive to create a learning environment that is inclusive of all people, values their diversity, and cultivates respect and compassion in the classroom and beyond.


Our curriculum is designed to develop graduates who are skilled readers, critics, writers, and speakers. The sequence of courses fosters an increasingly sophisticated and mature command of language and literature. Students at each grade level develop their vocabulary, read and write in various genres, study works by established authors and underrepresented writers, address major themes in world culture and history, and seek the vital connections between literature and their own lives.

HISTORY

How can your personal concern for the environment improve your paper on the Industrial Revolution? How does one of the rare western European portraits of Saladin belie his reputation as a cruel and tyrannical leader? What can you tell about a “victim" by the historical artifacts surrounding his “remains" in the archeological dig that was waiting for you on the floor in your World History classroom this morning? How are the “irrational" ideas of Sigmund Freud and Friedrich Nietzsche reflected in the advent of the Impressionist movement in art? Do you have a soul? How has 9/11 shaped culture, society, and policy?

These are the kinds of questions our teachers are asking every day in History classes at Marvelwood. Your teacher might show up in class to discuss the Crusades wearing a chain-mail headpiece, or you might be trudging together through the woods following the contours of a topographical map. Rather than just reading about how one side outflanked the other in a critical Civil War battle, you're suiting up and crouching behind a tree in a local reenactment. Today you're a 1940s art critic reviewing Picasso's latest show, tomorrow you're part of the Albanian delegation at the Model United Nations at Yale University; and next week you'll be boiling down tree sap using period tools in an authentic sugaring shack. Off-campus field trips and out-of-classroom experiences which spark curiosity and an awareness of history in the making are important parts of the curriculum.

World Languages

The strengths of Marvelwood's World Languages department lie in the flexibility, energy and creativity of its faculty, who are dedicated to making language study interesting, engaging and fun. Our teachers are actively involved in seeking out the most effective ways to make foreign language as accessible as possible to the widest array of students.

In some sense, World Languages is an ideally interdisciplinary subject, as games, audiovisual activities, songs, food, history, geography, literature, art and cultural studies are all fundamental elements of the curriculum and allow for a variety of teaching methodologies. Students at all levels enjoy both feature films as well as training videos and computer-based review in the target language. They learn basic geography and relevant history and discuss cultural differences. In recent years, members of the department have coordinated field trips to museums and dance performances, organized cross-curricular projects with the Art and History departments, chaperoned trips to Spain and other destinations, cooked native dishes with students, organized an international night on campus, and employed TPRS storytelling methodologies.

The teachers apply their energy and creativity to foster their students' desire to learn foreign language not just to earn required credit, but as a necessary and enjoyable step in the process of becoming citizens of the world.

Science

Nowhere is Marvelwood’s commitment to experiential education more evident than in our science classrooms.

At Marvelwood, students are given many unique opportunities to work with professionals outside the School community and to engage in research and scientific outreach on a global scale. Our science department has been recognized by the State of Connecticut for its innovative, hands-on programs as well as its contributions to state and local agencies such as the Department of Environmental Protection, The Audubon Society and The Kent Land Trust. In 2014, Science Department Chair Laurie Doss was named one of five Aquarion Environmental Champions for her stewardship in environmental education and awareness in the state of Connecticut.

Marvelwood students have worked side-by-side with scientists and conservation photographers locally and globally. They have helped scientists from the Department of Energy and Environmental Protection study amphibians, aquatic insects and avian populations. Globally they have worked with some of the top scientists and/or conservation photographers in the world, including Twan Leenders, Executive Director of the Roger Tory Peterson Institute, Robin Moore, photographer, filmmaker, author of In Search of Lost Frogs, Dr. Abel Batista a leading herpetologist in Central America, and Clay Bolt, an award-winning Natural History Photographer. Recently Mr. Bolt was in the news for his efforts to get the Rusty-Patched Bumble Bee on the Federal Endangered Species list and for re-discovering and photographing the world’s largest bee, the Wallace’s Giant Bee, previously believed to have been extinct for nearly 40 years!

Students have also visited with world-renowned Forensic Scientist Dr. Henry Lee and in 2021 the school’s Envirothon Team won first place in the Connecticut Envirothon state competition and went on to represent Connecticut at the International Competition. In 2022, the team finished second in the state competition. In 2021 students also participated in the Connecticut Ornithological Association's Birds and the Environment Science Conference where they discussed their work, done in partnership with the Kent Land Trust restoring inland Purple Martins populations.

Marvelwood, again in partnership with the Kent Land Trust, has operated a MAPS (Monitoring Avian Productivity and Survivorship Bird Banding Stations under the guidance of the Institute for Bird Populations since 2001. The station is only one of three stations in North America where high school students are the primary volunteers. In 2022 IBP’s MAPS Chat featured our program and how it has contributed to conservation efforts in the northwest corner including using data from our banding to assist in the designation of the Macedonia Forest Block Important Bird Area (please also see the Conservation Plan for the IBA).

Ongoing projects, including socializing puppies forGuiding Eyes for the Blind and student participation in UConn Natural Resources Conservation Academy programs (project examples). Students also periodically participate in Connecticut’s Maps Competition where they use Esri’s ArcGIS Online software to create story maps about a topic in Connecticut. The body of examples provided here emphasize Marvelwood’s dedication to innovative experiential education and the school’s commitment to service within the local and global communities.

Mathematics

Have you ever wondered if there's a mathematical way to figure out which charities are the best ones to support? Did you know that examining major-league pitching is the perfect way to study and understand the Pythagorean Theorem? How is the study of algebra or statistics valuable to your own personal commitment to social justice? How can we use drones and trigonometry to measure a large water area? How can we use math to create art and architecture models?

If you like to think outside the box, and you want assurances that what you're learning in the classroom has applications beyond the classroom—applications that matter to your life and your future—then Marvelwood's mathematics program offers just what you're looking for. Our math curriculum provides just the right challenges, at every level from Advanced Placement and Honors to one-on-one remediation, and our teachers constantly seek to connect fundamental concepts to real-world applications. We meet you where you need to start, and take you where you want to go.

Arts

The Marvelwood School Arts Program thrives and continually expands, thanks to the wide-ranging talents of the dedicated arts faculty as well as the School's location within a supportive arts community and proximity to top museums and theaters in the region and in New York City. The self-expression afforded by The Arts makes these opportunities essential components of the Marvelwood experience.

Curricular and extra-curricular options in studio art, music, theatre, photography and film/video challenge and encourage the creativity, technique and talents of our students with a combination of hand-ons, performance/production time, history, theory and critiques.

English as a Second Language (ESL)

Marvelwood’s ESL program is committed to developing the non-native English speaker’s oral and written communication skills, which are essential to their successful integration into both the academic realm and life on a boarding school campus. Our program facilitates appropriate placement for students with different degrees of English proficiency. We offer small classes at both the elementary and intermediate levels, where individual learning styles, strengths, and weaknesses are recognized and addressed.

Pair work, group work, oral presentations and computer-based language learning activities are part of the curriculum. ESL teachers design the program to move as quickly as it can, and as slowly as it needs to. Our goal is for the students to become effective communicators in diverse English-speaking contexts, and to develop sufficient proficiency to accomplish a wide variety of social and academic tasks in English. We have succeeded when the students are ready to find success alongside native English speakers in mainstream academic subjects.

The ESL faculty’s creativity is reflected in the variety of meaningful activities offered in the ESL classroom. On any given day you’ll see students engaged in real world situations; learning how to interact, discuss and enjoy the art of conversation. Field trips and other activities expose the students to the history and cultural richness of the United States. They may carve jack-o’-lanterns on Halloween, soften deer hide in a longhouse in an American Indian museum, participate in a local Civil War reenactment, learn to make maple syrup in an authentic sugaring shack, or take pictures of each other in front of the Statue of Liberty.

International students also teach the student body about their own home countries. Marvelwood appreciates and celebrates the linguistic and cultural diversity of its international population through activities such as international dinners, field trip meals at ethnic restaurants, and the sharing of cultures through music and art.

Supporting our Students

At Marvelwood, we are committed to the belief that every student learns differently, and that these differences are to be appreciated and accommodated through a combination of intensively targeted efforts on the part of the faculty to make even the most challenging college preparatory curricula accessible to students of all abilities, talents, interests and learning styles. Our unique Learning Support programs provide the tools that help students with learning challenges experience academic success, increase self-confidence, and acquire strong learning and self-advocacy skills needed in college and beyond. Students at every level of ability are encouraged to participate actively in their studies, practice self-advocacy, and accept guidance from the professionals with whom they interact every day.

We offer optional Learning Support programs for a wide range of academic challenges including those related to:

• Executive function skills
• Language-based skills (reading, writing, verbal expression)
• Dyscalculia
• Dysgraphia
• Dyslexia
• Processing speed
• Working memory

The newly-refurbished Clark Center for Learning Support houses our Learning Support program.