Smith Preparatory High School
Changing the World, One Student at a Time
Our Mission Statement
These challenges can be economic. After all: “the economic motive looms large” (Rose 2014, p. 27). However, while economically successful students is an important goal, this is not the main emphasis of Smith High School. We want students to grow personally as well. That can mean academic growth, character growth, or more varied hard to define types of growth. We hope to help our students along a path of lifelong fulfillment.
What Informs our Mission Statement?
Who can come to Smith?
Who goes to Smith right now?
How big is Smith and what are typical class sizes?
Although logistics about number of teachers and building space had to influence our choices, we have a firm commitment to smaller class sizes. While our curriculum has been modified to conform with recent standards such as No Child Left Behind (Rury, 2013, p. 218), we still try to make learning a personal experience for both our students and our teachers. While we agree with the Committee of Ten on some issues, our most important departure from them is our emphasis on vocational and other real world skills. While assuming every student will go on to college is noble (Rury, 2013, p. 157-8), it is simply no longer true. So while we believe students should receive some traditional schooling in common subjects, this cannot be all the schooling they receive.
What does Smith prepare students to do?
Practical Science: Students should understand scientifically how objects they encounter on a day-to-day basis work, and should be able to explain this to others, fix problems with these objects, or create safe functional substitutes of their own.
Practical Politics: Students should be informed on current events and be confident researching, critiquing, and voting for candidates in current elections.
Theoretical Literature: Students should be able to critically read fiction and nonfiction works of many different levels and identify bias, symbolism, and other literary techniques. Students are expected to able to argue a distinct point of view using passages from the text to support their positions.
Theoretical Arts: Students are expected to understand the origins of specific movements and ideas in the visual and/or performing arts. Students should be able to classify pieces within their period and understand the changes and continuities between movements and periods, both over time and place.
What is our curriculum like?
Introductory classes (including language requirements): 20 semester hours
Practical classes: 12 semester hours
Theoretical classes: 12 semester hours
Elective classes: 16 semester hours
60 total semester hours
Students need at least one practical and one theoretical class in each subject area. Interdisciplinary classes can fulfill multiple subject area requirements, but students are still expected to take 12 theoretical and 12 practical classes.
The work of the Committee of Ten had a huge influence on our curriculum. While we agreed with their commitment to a liberal arts education for all, we were concerned by the disdain they showed vocational and nontraditional forms of education. This helped us develop our practical curriculum. Not everyone learns the same way. In fact, some people claim that Albert Einstein struggled in school until he went to one that used Pestalozzi-like techniques, similar to ours. As Nel Noddings says, "...we may wonder how many budding Einsteins experience failure in today's schools because the prevailing methods do not meet their needs" (Noddings, 2012, p. 19). That is our philosophy in a microcosm. Everyone can be an Einstein in their own way, and it's our job to help them realize how.