One-of-a-Kind Opportunities Await
The moment you step onto the Germantown Academy campus, you feel like it's a place unlike any other - and you would be right! Every square foot is home to a learning space, program, natural setting, or asset rarely found anywhere else that advances our mission of inspiring students to be:
Independent in Thought
Confident in Expression
Compassionate in Spirit
Collaborative in Action
Honorable in Deed
Throughout our 250+ year history, we've cared more about taking approaches to learning that yield inquisitive learners and confident, collaborative individuals than following traditional forms of instruction. Here is a look into those unique aspects of the GA experience.
- Innovation and Special Programs
- House System
- Harkness Method
- Beard Center for Innovation
- Confucius Classroom
- Kids Teaching Kids
- Nature Program
Fresh Thinking Starts Here
We know that, to succeed in the future, individuals must be skilled communicators, strong collaborators, and confident problem-solvers. That’s why we offer many leading-edge environments and programs that take learning beyond the classroom and offer opportunities to build, grow, and engage with projects and materials in tangible ways. Through our commitment to developing 21st century capacities students can challenge themselves and make the most of their abilities in ways limited only by their imaginations. A few of our special programs include Art Across the Academy, Entrepreneurial Studies, Engineering and STEAM Education, Nature Program, and Design Thinking.
Engaging faculty and students by giving them time, space, and the opportunity to achieve their goal, or fail and regroup, has shown truly inspiring outcomes like critical thinking, problem solving, risk taking and more." - Gaby Russomagno 1760, Inaugural Director of Innovation and Special Programs
Small Communities, Big Opportunities
Established in 2007, the GA House System offers several compelling benefits for students entering the Upper School. Placement in one of our seven Houses 1) introduces students to a more intimate and manageable community, which supports greater connection and individual relationship-building; 2) provides leadership opportunities for students within each House; 3) creates a setting for additional mentoring and collaboration; 4) enables inter-house activities and friendly competitions; and 5) allows faculty advisors to focus on one House, ensuring that all student members receive appropriate amounts of attention and guidance.
Each House is named after a notable headmaster, teacher, alum, or community member in GA’s history - Alcott Day, Galloway, Kershaw, Osbourn, Roberts, Truesdell, and Washington. LEARN MORE about these GA leaders.
Informal, fun competitions earn points for the annual Competition Cup. Activities include intellectual, spirited and athletic events, culminating at House Olympics at the end of the year. Each House has its own space in the Upper School which includes lockers for all student members, lounge furniture and meeting space. READ MORE about how the House system was created at GA.
The House System at Germantown Academy provides students with a support system of camaraderie and mentorship. As Prefect, I enjoyed leading my peers and forging lifelong friendships. – Julia Buchholz '17
Building Voice and Viewpoint
Harkness Tables provide one of the simplest yet most effective methods for Upper School students to build confidence in expressing views and engaging in healthy debate. Rooted in the Socratic method of stimulating critical thinking through cooperative dialogue and a continuous exchange of question and answer, classroom experiences involving Harkness tables encourage each participant to contribute to discussions, challenge one another, and defend viewpoints. The large, oval-shaped tables are used in Humanities courses and are ideal for debating works of literature, questioning interpretations of historical events, and other discussion-based dynamics.
There is no hiding around the Harkness Table. The fact that the teacher, and any of your classmates, can call on you at any time stresses the importance of being prepared, and allows you to share your opinion. There was no better teacher for real-life experiences than the debates I engaged in while sitting around that table at GA. – Suzie Cutler '87
Fresh Thinking Starts Here
Made possible by a gift from longtime benefactor the late Midge Beard Price and incorporated in the Roberts Family Library and Technology Center, the Beard Center for Innovation consists of two spaces to further engage students in their learning — a makerspace and a larger, flexible innovation lab. Students and faculty use the innovation lab to collaborate, share resources and knowledge, and generate ideas, as well as access a robotics field. The new ideas take shape in the makerspace, where students work on projects with the use of 3D design software, a laser cutter, computers, and a variety of materials.
Faculty across the school pilot and design various programs and classes for all grade levels. The Beard Center provides a hub for these innovative teaching and learning initiatives, which are centered on project-based learning and a collaborative, creative, problem-solving process.
The new Beard Center is an incredible place because it combines the classroom experience with a fun new way to learn and have a hands-on experience. One of the most effective tools in the Beard Center are the dividers, because they allow multiple teachers to use the space at once. Also, the magnificent room in the back is a great spot for science classes, especially when they can use the 3D printer and the laser cutter. – Harry Mirabile '20
A Global Community
GA holds the distinction of being the first Confucius Classroom in Pennsylvania, made possible through a partnership with Hanban, the Chinese National Office for Teaching Chinese as a Foreign Language, and Capital Normal University High School in Beijing.
Since 2009, GA has implemented Mandarin Chinese language instruction across all divisions, built community through annual New Year celebrations, conducted public classes for children and adults, administered official language tests, and even established a college counseling center in Beijing for students applying to colleges in the United States.
Learn more about:
The Happiest Place for Literacy Learning
Alphabetia is our unique setting dedicated to teaching and advancing reading skills in K–2nd Grade. In this “magical land,” young students learn about letters, consonants, vowels, and words through interactive games and engagement with puppets, music, and dance. This program enables early childhood learners to see reading as a portal to new adventures, better understanding of their world, and a continuously enjoyable activity and skill for life.
In addition to instruction in their classroom, they continued reading in the magical land of ‘Alphabetia' led by GA’s literary specialists. Our children loved this stimulating classroom filled with books and a puppet theater where vowel characters were created and had a story to share. The best part was how fun learning to read became through games, plays and storytelling. – Catherine O'Malley P'23 P'26
The Science of Learning Together
Kids Teaching Kids (KTK) is a popular program connecting our youngest students with our oldest ones for all kinds of fun science projects.
PreK and Kindergarten students travel to the Beard Center for Innovation and pair up with Upper School students to create 3D glasses, craft sundials, conduct experiments, and see just how exciting science can be. Lower School students get to spend time learning from students who they regard as the "rock stars" of GA, while older Patriots get to share their enthusiasm for science and serving as a mentor and teacher.
The KTK program was more than just a science activity for my children. The opportunity to go across campus and collaborate with the "big kids" on cool projects all year long is definitely a highlight of their time in Lower School. – Josh Albert P'26 '30
Focused on Engagement
What's a minimester? In short, a fantastic way for faculty members to share interesting subjects and hobbies with Upper School students in a fun, no-grading-involved learning environment. Conducted after school, during free periods, or on weekends, minimesters engage students in exploring a wide range of non-academic topics and pursuits for the sake, and joy, of simply learning something new. While minimesters are conducted over the span of a semester and don’t award academic credit, they are tremendously popular among students—and further reflect our commitment to powerful learning experiences and opportunities for personal growth. Some example minimesters including robotics, ceramics, CAD and 3D printing, trout fishing, entrepreneurship and branding, introduction to Russian language and culture, sports medicine and personal finance.
Minimesters are awesome and fun. Turning what would have been a free period into a semester of learning about something you're interested in with no pressure, is a no-brainer. Everyone should take advantage of this opportunity. – Grant Griswold '19
An Ideal Environment
Playing outside and exploring the woodlands, waterways and wildlife surrounding GA are all key parts of our curriculum, and essential to whole-child development. We have 126 acres of natural beauty beckoning us every day and we thoughtfully and intentionally engage our outdoor classroom.
Students from PreK through 12th grades are immersed in hands-on experiences that help them connect with nature, understand environmental challenges, and contribute to solutions. Our outdoor programs provide abundant opportunities for students to show how anything is possible starting here.
A certified Audubon Society Bird Habitat, the Preserve is home to a wide range of wildlife and plant species. It is so special that we have this beautiful learning landscape as part of our curriculum every day.
– Sarah Kesten, Upper School Science teacher and Preserve Manager