Assistant Head of School for Academic Programs
Academic excellence is at the heart of the SPA experience. In all three divisions, students are challenged by what we believe is the best academic curriculum in Minnesota. They are supported by the individual attention that is made possible by master teachers—80% of SPA faculty hold a graduate degree beyond the baccalaureate—and the lowest average class size of comparable independent schools in the state. SPA's student-teacher ratio is 7:1. Kindergarten classrooms have an average of under 10 students per teacher; beyond the Kindergarten year, Lower School homerooms average 13-15 students per teacher. Middle School classes average 15 students and Upper School classes average 14 students.
In the Lower School, a child’s academic day follows a six-day rotating schedule. The sample below is a typical Grade 3 schedule. The rotation allows for optimum focus on the core homeroom courses (math, language arts, and social studies) with plenty of time for the specialist courses in science, Spanish, art, music, physical education, and library. The rotation also provides time for twice-weekly assemblies, structured play time in Grades K-2, the beloved “Mini” classes in Grades 3-5, as well as ample time for recess and lunch which is so important for young children. View a sample Lower School schedule or learn more about the Lower School.
The Middle School follows a six-day block schedule, which gives teachers the flexibility to incorporate both collaborative projects and individualized instruction into their courses. Because the block schedule both extends class meetings and spreads subjects out over longer periods, students have time to better absorb complex material. The typical 85-minute length of each allows ample opportunity for all three of the elements of deep learning: planning, exploration, and reflection. View a sample Middle School schedule or learn more about the Middle School.
The Upper School follows a six-day block schedule in which students have four classes per day. The 75-minute blocks provide time for broad exploration of ideas within each class and each discipline. The schedule also has built-in time during the school day for co-curricular activities, studying, and meeting with teachers, and allows for a balanced approach to homework. The academic day begins with an advisory check-in at 8 a.m. except for Wednesdays, when the day begins at 8:45 a.m. Every day includes a mid-morning Tutorial period, when students do their homework or meet with teachers for extra help and 30-minute lunch period. After the third academic block, “X Period” allows time for assemblies, student organization and club meetings. View a sample Upper School schedule or learn more about the Upper School.