Upper School Philosophy
Our world needs citizens who are curious, empathetic, and committed to improving their communities. At Tatnall, we are intentional in developing critical minds and nurturing brave leaders. We achieve this in the Upper School by providing a challenging program with exceptional academics, outstanding athletics, unparalleled arts, and authentic relationships. We develop minds, build character, and create community - one student at a time.
3 Fun Facts about Upper School Head, Bill Schluter
Favorite Subject in School: History
Hobby people would never guess: Hot yoga
Favorite Teacher, you had and why: Wes McCaughan was a legendary History and English teacher at Princeton Country Day School. After he taught me in grades 6 and 7, I knew exactly what I wanted to do with my life.
Tatnall students are smart and diverse and committed to becoming ethical leaders and compassionate citizens. This requires a mindset that affirms the humanity of all people and, more specifically, challenges systems that limit the voices and potential of others. Whether Tatnall students are experimenting in the STEM lab, competing on the playing field, leading a club meeting, editing a publication, or performing on stage, they’re engaged in learning that is creative, collaborative, and inspired. Students learn to think critically and to solve problems through multiple lenses, no matter the task.
They also learn in an environment that prioritizes their well-being. We want students to be the scholars, athletes, artists, and activists they aspire to be, and we know that this can only happen if they are happy and well. High school is a time when young people want to be independent and free from the pressures and influences of adults, but they’re also looking for mentors and role models. Faculty choose to teach at Tatnall because they want to mentor ambitious young people and to partner both with parents who want this experience for their children and with students who want this for themselves.
The English Department believes in offering students the opportunity to experience some of the most compelling works of American, British, and world literature. In a world in which communication skills and intellectual flexibility are increasingly valuable prerequisites, our literature-based program also provides a strong foundation for success at the college level by focusing on fluency in such areas as critical and inferential thinking, speaking, listening, reading, and writing.
Our courses in film and theater complement the English Department’s focus on literary texts by considering films and plays within similar contexts of study: historical, technical, theoretical, and aesthetic. The additional goal of these courses is to make students more thoughtful analysts of the visual and performing arts.
Successful Tatnall English students, upon graduation, will be culturally literate and equipped to think clearly, read critically, and speak and write fluently. They will recognize and analyze the tools writers use and the ways in which writers convey meaning. They will develop visual literacy through film, print media, and performance and acknowledge the importance of multidisciplinary connections.
Beyond the classroom, students have taken their works outside the classroom through the Poetry Out Loud competition and have been regionally and nationally recognized through the Scholastic Art and Writing Awards. The department also sponsors a variety of writing and literature clubs in accordance with student interest.
Year Long Courses for Each Grade Level
- 9th - Elements of Literature
- 10th - Bible, Myth, and Epic (with honors sections)
- 11th - AP Language and Composition, AP Literature and Composition, American Literature, Electives
- 12th - Honors Global Literature/News Decoder, Electives
Examples of Elective Offerings for Juniors and Seniors
- Creative Writing-Poetry or Fiction
- American Short Novels
- Detective Fiction
- Film Study
- Human Rights Literature
- Myth & Fairy Tale
- Science Fiction Literature
- Trickster Literature
- Women’s Literature
- Modern Drama
- American Novel-Post 1950
The Computer Science program recognizes that technology permeates the lives of all our students. It is imperative for students to appropriately integrate technology to support their learning as computer science, digital citizenship, and information literacy are becoming ever more essential in our students' daily lives. Critical thinking, problem-solving, and collaboration are strengthened and enhanced through the courses in this program. We strive to offer a strong foundation in computer science across all divisions with required coursework in the lower, middle, and upper schools. As students progress through their academic careers and gain proficiency, they have opportunities to take a breadth of courses from programming and database science to web design and robotics, and our top students can place into AP Computer Science A. Through the work done in this department, students learn that computers do more than merely compute; they are a creative and productive outlet for 21st-century learning.
The History Department believes the study of history should shape students to become active global citizens and agents of positive change. As our engaging and relevant curriculum unfolds, students are expected to make connections, not only between cultures but between different epochs as well. Each course employs a number of sources for content to ensure that students consider history from a variety of perspectives. Our faculty is committed to the preparation of students for continued study of history at the college level as we build the cultural competency necessary for 21st-century global citizenship.
In addition to engaging and challenging content, Students will analyze primary sources and complete historical research at each grade level. They will develop skills to evaluate and interpret information and critically assess sources, including proper citation practices. Students will be exposed to a variety of experiences and types of assessment within the classroom, such as conducting interviews, engaging in debates, giving individual and group presentations, and writing research papers.
Beyond the classroom, teachers organize field trips to explore course content in real-world experiences further, and the department supports numerous clubs and programs, such as Mock Trial and the Delaware Congressional Youth Conference.
Year-Long Courses for Each Grade Level
- 9th - World History 1
- 10th - World History 2 (with honors sections)
- 11th - US History, AP US History
- 12th - AP African American Studies, AP Macroeconomics, Honors United States Government & Politics
Examples of Elective Offerings for all Grade Levels
- American Environmentalism
- Global Studies
- History of Art
- Women’s History
- World Religions
- Supreme Court: Race, Gender, Civil Rights
The Tatnall School Math Department understands that students learn best when they are actively engaged in mathematics. The Tatnall curriculum is coherent and connected at each level, offers openings to engage students at many levels, and corresponds to each student’s unique gifts and skills.
Mathematics in Upper School involves a blend of skills and computations with a development of reasoning and problem-solving. This combination allows students to explore the elegance and sublime nature of pure mathematics, as well as the many practical applications of mathematics in the modern world. In the classroom, teachers utilize a variety of technological tools in prompting students to become active and creative problem-solvers. Projects and opportunities for collaboration cultivate confidence and independent mathematical thought as students learn to explore ideas, develop conjectures, and verify their results. We value both pure mathematics and proof, along with investigations, discovery, and applications.
Outside of the classroom, students have the opportunity to participate in a variety of competitions, including the DCTM Math League (9th-grade division and 10th-12th grade division), the American Mathematics Competition, sponsored by the Mathematical Association of America, and a variety of independent studies as dictated by student interest.
Year Long Courses Offered
- Algebra 1, Algebra 2, Honors Algebra 2
- Functions, Statistics, and Trigonometry
- Precalculus, Honors Precalculus
- Concepts of Essential Mathematics (Intro to Statistics/ Math of Finance/ Discrete Math)
- AP Calculus AB
- AP Calculus BC
- AP Statistics
Examples of Elective Offerings
- Intro to Statistics Through a Social Justice Lens
- Math of Finance - Personal Finance, Money Management
- Intro to Python Programming
- Advanced Python Programming
Tatnall’s Upper School musicians strive for a deeper understanding of music concepts while improving their skills. Students continue to cultivate their individual voices, artistry, and confidence through course offerings, including traditional ensembles and a variety of exploratory electives. Flexible scheduling enables students to participate in performing ensembles, including Concert Choir, Band, and Strings Ensemble. Our renowned Laird Performing Arts Center allows students to take active roles in all aspects of both our annual musical production, Playbill, and our drama production, Showcase. Technical theater classes.
Example of Courses and Electives Offered
- Music Ensembles: Chorus/Band/Strings
- Foundations of Technical Theater
- Music and Social Justice
- Foundations of Music
- Advanced Technical Theater
The faculty of the science department believes that the study of science is essential for every Tatnall Upper School student. At Tatnall, science students are actively engaged inside labs and outside on our natural lands in explorations and investigations that inspire them to become life-long scientists. As the impact of scientific innovations, applications, and information increasingly permeates our daily lives, it is imperative that our students have a solid base of understanding and the skills to be critical thinkers to function as knowledgeable citizens, consumers, and decision-makers in our technology-dependent world. Additionally, Tatnall offers Capstone research projects where students design, perform, and present their own scientific study in the field.
Year-Long Courses Offered
- Biology or Honors Biology
- Environmental Science: Climate Change/ Sustainability/ Horticulture
- Chemistry or Honors Chemistry
- Physics or Honors Physics
- Advanced Chemistry 2
- AP Biology
- AP Environmental Science
- AP Physics
- AP Psychology
Examples of Elective Offerings
- Anatomy and Kinesiology
- Forensics: Evidence, Crime Scene
- The Science of Climate Change
- Health and Nutrition
- Student Trainers' Workshop
- Introduction to Engineering
- Introduction to Materials Science
The visual arts curriculum emphasizes cultivating each student’s unique creative voice. Our faculty believes that the critical and creative processes inherent in all artistic endeavors are essential and highly transferable life skills. The visual arts curriculum provides students with a broad scope of art experiences to promote the innovative use of materials, creative exploration, and a range of technical skills in a variety of media. Students learn the vocabulary and historical context of specific media, techniques, and styles. The artwork our students produce is a result of each individual’s ability to think creatively, experiment, solve problems, and evaluate.
Typical Course Sequence
- Foundations of Art and Design (must be taken before any other elective)
- Various electives (ex., Drawing, Painting, 2D/3D Digital Design, Digital Photography, Ceramics, Raku, 3D Concepts: Sculpture & Architecture, Printmaking)
- Junior Portfolio (yr long course/dept. recommendation)
- AP Art & Design (portfolio/yr long course/dept. recommendation)
Highlights (field trips, exhibitions)
- Junior Portfolio/AP Annual Art Museum Field Trip
- Student artwork has been featured in local and traveling exhibitions, including:
- DCCA’s SABA exhibitions
- Delaware Art Museum’s Art Smart Exhibition
- Imagine Brandywine school feature at the Brandywine River Museum
- Traveling Pacem En Terris Visionary Peace Youth Art Exhibition
Communication and culture are front and center in Upper School World Language classrooms.
French, Latin, and Spanish students have abundant opportunities to use and experience language in a rigorous and supportive environment. At each level of study, students participate in meaningful and authentic activities that facilitate their acquisition of a new language while helping them cultivate global awareness and cultural competency. Teachers actively seek out resources made by native speakers for native speakers to help provide comprehensible and practical input for their students. Upper School instruction follows a proficiency-based approach that allows students to increase competency across various modes of communication: interpersonal, presentational, and interpretive. Students also explore and appreciate diverse cultures to gain awareness of products, practices, and perspectives of and within the target language. Students in our Level 4 classes sit the AAPPL or ALIRA exam, nationally administered assessments of language proficiency. Students who score highly on these exams are able to earn the Delaware Certificate of Multiliteracy.
Our versatile and experienced teachers plan personalized instruction and provide time for students to take their language out of the classroom by engaging with students from other divisions within the school. Additionally, there are opportunities to strengthen practical language use and cultural competency through local field trips and international travel.
We offer the following courses in the Upper School:
- French 1, French 2, French 3, Honors French 4. AP French Language and Culture
- Latin 1, Latin 2, Latin 3, Honors Latin 4, Honors Advanced Latin Literature
- Spanish 1, Spanish 2, Spanish 3, Honors Spanish 4, AP Spanish Language and Culture