Our Upper School Curriculum grows (and continually evolves) from our commitment to active learning. In every discipline, our faculty design courses that challenge students to explore and experiment, always with the aim of solving problems and developing habits of mind that prioritize commitment to authentic, deep understanding. Required courses build essential foundations of skills and content, while elective offerings allow students to chart their own paths of intellectual development.

We are proud of an evolving curriculum that reflects both abiding respect for tradition and embrace of new knowledge and methodologies. Our students are encouraged to make the most of the opportunities we offer them to expand their minds and hearts by embracing the challenges that learning entails.

  • Computer Science

    In our Computer Science classes and state-of-the-art Maker Space, students apply their creativity, problem-solving skills, and communication tools to explore new languages; engineer and design 3-D solutions; develop multi-level understanding of the internet and social media; work with hands-on technologies such as robotics and microcontrollers; and discover the expanding universe of artificial intelligence. The language of computers is one of Poly’s fastest growing and most exciting fields of inquiry — and our digital-savvy students are its natural interlocutors.

  • English

    English classes engage students in discovering their own voices as writers while they wrestle with literature’s diverse representations of the human experience. Core classes and electives (including AP courses) introduce students to prose fiction, poetry, drama, and literary non-fiction from around the world and help them develop both analytical and writing skills. At the core of our writing instruction is the understanding that writing requires flexibility and a wide range of skills beyond the traditional essay. Poly’s English program therefore actively prepares students to write effectively across disciplines and genres. Just as important, our approach to literature is grounded in the understanding that literary texts help students develop empathy for characters whose experiences are at once unfamiliar and strikingly recognizable. Our classes therefore join classic texts with new and emerging narrative voices, and faculty delight in seeing our students draw inspiration from both.

  • History

    At the core of the History Department’s mission is the belief that the study of history has the potential to, in the words of historian Carl Degler, “expand our conception and understanding of what it means to be human.” The study of history is integral to Poly’s mission of preparing students to be global citizens, and our history curriculum is designed to help students become comfortable navigating, both in the past and in the present, the tension between the familiar and the strange. To this end, students develop a deep knowledge of their own country’s history, global history, and area-specific histories. We also empower students to seek an understanding of their world that goes beyond their present moment, and to develop the empathy and humility that are integral to the thoughtful exercise of global citizenship.

  • Mathematics

    Our mathematics curriculum encourages students to become logical and imaginative thinkers. We help students recognize patterns and structures, explore multiple routes to solving problems, develop and apply critical thinking and abstract reasoning skills, and organize and explain their reasoning. As we model real world situations and promote both deductive and inductive reasoning, our students develop the intellectual tools to become independent problem solvers, develop the confidence to persevere through complex and challenging non-routine problems, and enjoy the challenge of attempting to find the unknown and delight in its discovery. In the Upper School, students study geometry, algebra 2 trigonometry, and pre-calculus, and in their junior and senior years choose from electives in statistics, calculus, probability, discrete mathematics, linear algebra, and financial literacy. Advanced Placement courses are offered in Statistics, Calculus AB, and Calculus BC.

  • Science

    Our Science department recognizes that, now more than ever before, the natural world demands innovative solutions to the most vexing environmental, medical, and resource dilemmas humankind has confronted. Our students therefore engage in experiments and analysis of observable data that challenge them to understand how science shapes all phenomena, from the manufacture of sunblock to understanding of epidemic disease. Required courses are offered in biology, chemistry, and physics. Electives include AP level courses in those disciplines along with classes on epidemiology, human performance, engineering design, sustainable systems, forensics, and science research. All courses require students to apply science and engineering practices as they make sense of phenomena and design solutions to problems, preparing them to become tomorrow’s engineers, physicians, researchers, space explorers, and scientifically literate citizens.

  • World Languages/Classics

    World Languages courses — Spanish, French, Mandarin and Latin — immerse students in their chosen target tongue as a means of nurturing their curiosity about peoples and cultures far beyond our halls. Our modern language classes (including a senior elective in Italian) place a premium on speaking, sharing, and celebrating the world language, not least as a means of nurturing cultural competence and personal courage. In addition to local excursions to restaurants, exhibits, and NYC neighborhoods, curricular trips to Martinique, Spain, Italy, and Argentina encourage students to become intrepid and considerate citizens of the world.

  • Learning Support and Enrichment

    At Poly, we appreciate the wide diversity of learning styles and are dedicated to meeting each child’s learning needs. Our learning specialists help all students meet the demands of our curriculum, and become proficient self-advocates who are resilient, meta-cognitive, and strategic learners. Learning specialists work closely with students, faculty, and deans to address individual learning needs and oversee the Learning Center, a space for students to practice their skills and utilize a range of academic supports. Our learning specialists also support teachers and develop pedagogical tools designed to help enrich the classroom learning experience for all students.


View our Upper School Curriculum Guide for the 2021-22 Academic Year