Upper School

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Welcome to the Germantown Academy Upper School!

At heart, I believe that the best teachers are those who endeavor to genuinely come to know their students. I believe that these teachers purposefully recognize the potential for excellence in the classroom – for the unbridled joy that a 9th grader brings to her exploration of Physics Honors, for the independence of thought that drives a sophomore to question his classmate’s interpretation of the final scene of Hamlet, for the ardent curiosity of an 11th grade student who has taken apart and, more or less, reassembled every piece of stage lighting in the theater, and for the senior who has chosen to explore her passion for the intersection of music, poetry, and history through an Academy Scholars Project. I believe that these teachers readily identify their athletes’ promise – for the point guard’s grace and fearlessness on the hardwood, for the midfielder’s improvisation and resilience on the pitch, and for catcher’s strength and steadiness on the diamond. I believe that these teachers inherently grasp their artists’ gifts for expression – for a sculptor’s intricately constructed portrait of a classmate, for an actor’s flawless embodiment of a role in the latest Belfry theater production, and for a musician’s unparalleled command of the slide guitar. I believe that these teachers recognize their students’ capacity for good - for their compassion, for their generosity, and for their spirit. Fundamentally, I believe that here, at Germantown Academy, our teachers strive to know our students in these ways, and to travel, together, along their path through the Upper School.

Practically speaking, from the Harkness Table to the Makers’ Space to the Preserve, we encourage our students to think deeply and to ask questions, to investigate and to discover, and to learn with and from one another. While the curriculum we offer certainly provides students with excellent preparation for college and beyond, it also offers opportunities to explore a well-rounded course of study and to pursue an individual passion. Whether choosing to engage in demanding Advanced Placement and Honors level offerings, or considering a course designed to target the development of a specific set of academic skills, a range of opportunities provides our students the chance to delve into entirely new academic explorations and to more deeply consider existing areas of interests.

Above all, our teachers, our coaches, and our advisors endeavor to support our students in the discovery of their own questions and their own answers; we encourage our scholars, our athletes, and our performers to challenge themselves, to try, on occasion to fail, and, most importantly, to develop the resiliency and the resolve to persevere. We believe wholeheartedly in the tenets of our mission, that at GA we inspire our students to be independent in thought, confident in expression, compassionate in spirit, collaborative in action, and honorable in deed. And, most notably, we cherish the privilege and the pleasure in the sharing of our students’ journeys.

Chris Nelson
Head of Upper School