Upper School Program

Thaden’s upper school program challenges and supports students at each stage of their development as they move from the mastery of foundational knowledge toward increasingly independent and self-directed modes of inquiry. Our upper school faculty encourage students to share, question, and dissent as they acquire the skills and confidence needed to think critically and creatively. Our trimester schedule and longer class periods encourage intellectual independence by allowing students to design and undertake focused, immersive projects that take advantage of Northwest Arkansas’ abundant natural and cultural resources. Our co-curricular offerings also invite self-expression and present opportunities for students to develop as campus and community leaders. By teaching students to ask the right questions and empowering them to pursue the right answers, Thaden’s upper school program provides a foundation for success in college and a life of integrity, purpose, and responsible global citizenship.

List of 5 items.

  • Curriculum

    The upper school curriculum respects the boundaries of the core academic disciplines so that students learn to distinguish the ways in which scientists, artists, mathematicians, historians, and others create knowledge and understand the world. The program of study in each discipline, however, also intersects across fields so that students may recognize patterns and illuminate big questions.

    Thaden requires a minimum of 26 credits for high school graduation, distributed across the curriculum. One credit is equivalent to a year-long course. Students will exceed the minimum requirements by taking additional electives and advanced courses. Many of our courses have distinctive features that set them apart as particularly challenging and comparable to college level work.

    At many schools, especially those serving students with an extremely broad range of academic trajectories and needs, courses that are specifically designed to prepare students for college often carry the Advanced Placement (AP) designation in order to signal their academic rigor. Thaden has not adopted an AP designation because our entire curriculum, as a whole, is challenging and designed to prepare all students for admission to even the most selective colleges and universities in the world. Thaden students will in the natural course of their studies develop all of the fundamental skills and knowledge needed to excel on AP examinations should they choose to take them. Any student graduating from Thaden School will also have met or exceeded Arkansas state graduation requirements. Upper School Course Offerings 2019-20.

    Summary of Upper School Requirements (26 Credits)
    Visual and Performing Arts:2 credits                                        
    English:4 credits
    World Languages and Cultures:3 credits
    History and Social Science:3 credits
    Mathematics:4 credits
    Science:3 credits
    Signature Programs:2 credits
    Wellness and Physical Education:2 credits
    Additional Courses:3 credits
  • Feedback and Advising

    Thaden’s advising and evaluation practices are designed to support and challenge Upper School students in equal measure. Each Thaden student is assigned a faculty advisor who is the liaison between student, school, and family. Students meet with their advisors in weekly group advising sessions and in individual meetings to plan and monitor academic progress. Combining the best of innovative and traditional approaches, Thaden’s assessment practices include cycles of comprehensive teacher feedback and student self-evaluation. Students — and their advisors and families — receive written evaluations from teachers at regular intervals during the academic year that offer a complete picture of work, achievement, and areas for improvement. In addition, students work closely with their teachers to guide their own progress, including leading parent-teacher conferences and developing their own feedback mechanisms.

    We want Thaden students to embrace academic challenges and discover new interests as they embark upon their upper school journey. For that reason, while grades are assigned in ninth-grade, only courses taken after the ninth-grade year are included in a student’s grade-point average (GPA).

    Likewise, at Thaden, choosing a college is viewed as a process of self-discovery. Faculty and other advisors support students in approaching the college admission process as a long-term project requiring deep research into programs that match their interests. Each college advisor writes an individualized recommendation letter that offers a holistic analysis of the ways in which a given student has embraced a challenging course of study and that provides additional context to measures such as GPA or test scores. Our faculty members also bring a wide range of educational backgrounds to our campus and, in this respect, serve as important role models as we encourage students to think carefully and expansively about their college and career aspirations.
  • Athletics and Co-Curricular Programs

    Critical to the balance of our education program are the co-curricular programs that provide students with opportunities to challenge themselves, collaborate with one another, and advance their capacities to learn in several modes.

    In the founding years, we intend to field one interscholastic athletic team each season that includes both boys and girls, is flexible in terms of number of student participants needed in order to compete, and that promotes individual leadership as well as teamwork. In selecting our initial athletic offerings, we balance our desire to be distinctive with the need for a critical mass of regional teams against which to compete.

    Students in the founding years also have the opportunity to establish and lead a number of clubs and other organizations.
  • Faculty

    The quality of our educational program resides in the expertise of our teaching staff. All of our educators, recruited from the region, state, and across the country, bring to our campus a passion for and mastery of the subjects they teach and demonstrated ability to inspire and mentor young people, both inside and outside of the classroom. This commitment to students and to the classroom experience, coupled with ongoing opportunities for professional development, is a distinguishing feature of the Thaden faculty.
  • Calendar

    Thaden’s academic calendar runs on a trimester rather than a semester system. Twelve-week trimesters allow middle and upper school students to take a greater number of courses in a given year, enabling them to explore more disciplines and subjects. Our trimester calendar also gives teachers more opportunities to diversify their offerings and innovate with new subjects and teaching methods. Of course, a subject that cannot be effectively covered within a single trimester can still be offered across multiple trimesters in much the same way that certain subjects are offered for two consecutive semesters.

    For two weeks during the academic year, Thaden students alter their routine to work with faculty, fellow students, and community members (artists, scientists, entrepreneurs, business leaders, etc.) to apply what they’ve learned to various projects of local and global significance. For example, a history teacher might partner with an environmental scientist to design an immersive study of the Battle of Pea Ridge. What would soldiers have relied on for sustenance in the field? What landscape features and weather conditions might have influenced the staging of the battle? The possibilities for collaboration and immersive learning in Northwest Arkansas are endless, and these capstone projects – what we are calling Intensives — will allow teachers to model the investigative habits of mind essential to critical thinking.

    Although the trimester system has not been widely adopted in the region, our academic calendar begins on or near the same date as most public and charter schools in Northwest Arkansas and is aligned with sports seasons, national holidays, and traditional breaks. The Thaden year has two-week winter and spring breaks, as well as celebrations for special occasions such as Louise Thaden Day.

    See the Thaden School Calendar

Thaden School

| 410 SE Staggerwing Lane | Bentonville, AR 72712 |