A unique feature of Gunston’s academic program is the opportunity for motivated and capable students to advance their course studies during the school year or during summer vacation. Independently motivated students are encouraged to challenge themselves and to enrich their learning experience by taking advantage of approved programs for academic enrichment and accelerated study.
Independent Study - Gunston’s focus on personalized instruction allows students diverse learning opportunities during their four years of high school. Students who seek deeper study in an academic discipline may work with a teacher to design a fully credited course not typically offered in the curriculum. Independent study courses are approved by the Department Chair and the Assistant Head of School. The independent study program has included courses in art history, metallurgy, music theory, advanced mathematics and science, German, Chinese, and literature.
Summer Courses - Students wishing to pursue course acceleration or enhanced subject exploration may enroll in summer classes either on campus, in accredited programs at other schools or colleges, or online. Planning and approval of summer study is directed by the Assistant Head of School and the Director of College Guidance along with input from academic advisors.
Online Learning - Gunston recognizes and embraces the role that technology plays in our daily lives. Online learning opportunities are vast and increasing daily. To expand our school curriculum, facilitate accelerated study when appropriate, and to promote deeper subject area learning, Gunston encourages interested students to enroll in nationally recognized online courses. Students who choose this option learn to navigate the online classroom and gain valuable experience in independent learning and time management. Online coursework is directed by the Assistant Head of School, the Director of College Guidance, and the teacher-mentor selected by the student in collaboration with the school.
Dual Enrollment - Students who seek the college classroom experience or who wish to earn college credits while in high school have the opportunity to accomplish both via the dual enrollment programs offered at nearby colleges. This program is directed by the Assistant Head of School and the Director of College Guidance in collaboration with the academic advisors. Students may not substitute dual enrollment courses for core courses required in Gunston’s curriculum, but are encouraged to take courses not typically offered on campus. Attending classes on a college campus enriches students’ learning experiences and provides them managed exposure to the college teaching and learning environment.
Responsibility for personal and academic excellence is one of the tenets of Gunston’s culture. The transition from middle to high school presents new challenges to students who must learn to balance a seven period class day, rigorous academic expectations, athletics competitions, and social commitments. Gunston’s program is structured to provide appropriate levels of support for students in all grades.
Homework Period - Study time is built into the students’ daily schedules giving them the opportunity to complete assignments, prepare for tests, read, conduct research, write papers, or meet with teachers for extra help. Students in 9th grade have supervised study throughout the year. Upperclassmen who have demonstrated a high level of independence by earning honors grades have the privilege of open study, which allows them the option to select the area where they wish to study or relax during their homework periods.
Tutorial is a morning tutorial session with a classroom teacher. Students may elect to attend tutorial to review material or to prepare for upcoming assessments. Teachers may assign students to tutorial when they identify the need for extra help or when the student’s performance is below course and school expectations. Tutorial is designed to ensure academic success by providing early intervention to students who are experiencing academic difficulty.
The Gunston Learning Center
Academic support coaching offered through The Gunston Learning Center guides students in the development of learning and study skills to allow them to increase their level of independence in preparation for college. The program is individually tailored to provide one to one assistance in the specific areas of need of each student. Academic coaches work in conjunction with subject teachers and advisors to assist students toward developing mastery in skills and content.
The Gunston Learning Center is staffed by a coordinator and a team of support coaches. Academic coaches bring professional experience in education, learning differences, and/or related fields of literature, writing, math, and science. Regular academic coaching at Gunston is a contracted service. Coaching sessions are scheduled during homework periods in alignment with the students class schedule. Families determine the number of sessions per week, which can be amended at any time throughout the year.
Learning Differences and Related Accommodations - Small class size and a personalized approach to teaching enable Gunston to work effectively with students who have identified learning differences—such as dyslexia, ADHD, dyscalculia, dysgraphia, and processing deficits. The Assistant Head of School leads the teachers in the review of all testing documentation. Accommodations outlined in the testing reports that can be provided by the school become part of the students’ learning plans. The Assistant Head, the Director of College Guidance, the teaching team, and the academic tutor, if one is assigned, work closely together to provide appropriate levels of support to students with specialized learning profiles.
Educational testing may be requested by the school of students whose academic performance seems to be hampered by learning challenges that require more than the extra help options available within the structures of the school program.
The request for accommodations for standardized testing is made in accordance with policies set forth by College Board or ACT and is managed by the Director of College Guidance in collaboration with the Assistant Head and the parents.
Small school size, small classes, and strong faculty-student rapport, combined with frequent, open communication among students, faculty, administrators, and parents create Gunston's caring environment where each student receives the support necessary to succeed in a rigorous, college preparatory program.
As each student is enrolled, he or she is assigned an academic advisor with whom he or she meets three times weekly. The advisor, who supports the student's personal, social, and academic growth, becomes the primary contact in the academic arena. If a student experiences academic difficulty in a class, the teacher communicates with the advisor both the nature of the difficulty and the plan for improvement. The advisor works closely with the Assistant Head and the student's parents.
Academic advisors often fill the roles of confidant, sounding board, and mentor. The comfortable rapport between the students and adults promotes a high level of trust.