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Elementary/Middle School Academics

The cornerstone to Stephen Girard’s mission is our academic program. We continue to serve the needs of our students to give them the tools for success in a 21st century classroom and in their lives afterwards.

Grades 1st-5th Elementary School program
Core Courses: English/Language Arts, Math, Social Studies
Specialty Courses: Science, Art, Music, Physical Education/Health

Grades 6th-8th Middle School program
Core Courses: English/Language Arts, Math, Social Studies, Science, World Language
Specialty Courses: Art, Music, Physical Education/Health

We provide a holistic education across disciplines, currently built on independent schools best practices, mastery grading and the Common Core state and national standards. We also believe that each student is a physical, mental, and emotional being and that the function of education is to help our students develop in each of these areas.

We are a 1 v.1 computing school and therefore technology is used as a tool and integrated into all lessons and all disciplines.

English/Language Arts

1st Grade
  • Foundational skills in language: long, short vowels, and blends, know and apply phonics and word analysis, decode one and two syllable words
  • Read with accuracy, orally, using context clues, identify main idea using details and pictures
  • Writing about one specific topic, organizing ideas into complete sentences with using capitalization, ending punctuation, and appropriate spelling
  • Speaking and listening to participate in a collaborative conversation, understand text read aloud, ask and answer questions, and describe people, places and events with detail
2nd Grade
  • Foundational skills in language: using phonics for comprehension with accuracy and fluency, spelling of grade appropriate vocabulary
  • Grammar: understanding and use of pronouns, verbs, adjectives and adverbs, and punctuation marks
  • Reading: read aloud with accuracy and expression
  • Writing about a topic with clear details, describe a story or experiences, use of pictures and technology to write and publish

3rd Grade
Use of phonics, decoding, prefixes, suffixes, poetry reading and writing, retelling of a story with details, writing opinion statements and research, speak at a clear pace, use all parts of speech, spell using base words, patterns and common occurring words, daily independent reading and journaling

4th Grade
Use of phonics, decoding, understanding of grammar use with punctuation conventions, spelling grade level words, reading aloud with fluency and accuracy, clear presentation skills, use of strategies to understand unfamiliar words and phrases, write informative and narrative pieces, complete research, revise and edit writing, use technology to create,publish and share information, daily independent reading and journaling

5th Grade
Ability to read with fluency and accuracy, daily independent reading and journaling, writing of prose and poetry, ability to link opinions and patterns, use grade level vocabulary and correct spelling, comprehend various forms of literature, identify main ideas and details, comparisons and contrasts, use of technology and keyboarding skills, ability to gather relevant information form print and digital sources, complete research projects, adopt speech and use formal English

6th Grade:
Analysis of literature and determining context clues, Identification of author’s purpose, Contrast and comparison of documents, Writing in a formal style: introducing a topic with definitions, classification, comparison, cause and effect; organize, develop, transition and conclude written work, use technology to produce and publish written work, discuss and interpret information from a speaker, present own ideas and findings clearly, identify and use formal English with ease and accuracy in writing and speaking

7th Grade
Analyze, create and determine themes, provide objective summaries, identify and explain story/elements, figurative language, authors purpose and point of view, narratives, poetry, comparisons and contrasts, use of technology in writing and research, text structures

8th Grade
Analyze main themes, dialogue impact of words, analogies and allusions, points of view, objective summaries, compare and contrast, inferences, arguments with clear reasons, maintain a formal style of writing, precise language and technical terms to inform and explain, gather information from multiple sources, figurative language and figures of speech, technology use in research and writing


1st Grade
  • Number sense
  • Base 10
  • Problem Solving
  • Measurement/Geometry
  • Place values
  • Addition and subtraction
  • Introduction to fractions

2nd Grade
  • Number sense
  • Patterning and sequencing
  • Time and Money
  • Geometry
  • Measurement
  • Place values
  • Addition and subtraction
  • Introduction to fractions

3rd Grade
  • Computation and problem solving skills
  • Real-world application/interpret data
  • Multi-step addition, subtraction, multiplication and division
  • Time and money
  • Geometry
  • Fractions and decimals
  • Standard and metric measurement/volume mass
  • Data gathering
  • Probability
4th Grade
  • Computation and problem solving skills
  • Critical thinking skills
  • Real-world application
  • Addition, subtraction, multiplication and division
  • Fractions
  • Standard and metric measurement
  • Geometry/perimeter and area
  • Graphing
5th Grade
  • Computation and problem solving skills
  • Addition, subtraction, multiplication and division-fractions and decimals
  • Place value through hundred million
  • Standard and metric measurement-volume
  • Geometry
  • Algebra patterns and graphing

6th Grade

Units of study include: Ratios, Greatest Common Factors, Least Common Multiples, Percentage, Problem Solving, Rational Numbers (all operations), Multi-digital Decimals (all operations), Integers, Geometry, Distributive Property, Numerical expressions, Algebraic expressions, Statistical terms

7th Grade

Units of study include: Conversion of fractions and decimals, units of measure, fractions/mixed numbers (all operations), proportions, Coordinate planes, percentages, integers, algebraic expressions

8th Grade
Units of study include: Rational Numbers, Monomials, Algebraic Equations, Coefficients, Graphing/Plots, Geometry/Angles, Pythagorean Theory, Volume


Grades 1-8 follow the FOSS (Full Option Science System) Science curriculum. It is a nationally recognized program that spirals units of study in the Physical, Life and Earth sciences.

1st and 2nd Grades
Physical Science- Balance and Motion, Solids and Liquids
Life Science- Plants and Animals, Insects and Plants
Earth Science- Air and Weather, Pebbles, Sand and Silt

3rd Grade
Physical Science- Measuring Matter
Life Science- Structures of Life
Earth Science- Water

4th-6th Grades
Physical Science- Mixtures and Solutions, Motion, Force and Models, Energy and Electromagnetism
Life Science- Living Systems, Environments
Earth Science- Weather on Earth, Sun, Moon and Planets, Soils, Rocks and Landforms

7th-8th Grades
Physical Science- Chemical Interactions
Life Science- Populations and Ecosystems, Diversity of Life
Earth Science- Earth History, Planetary Science, Weather and Water

Social Studies

The goal of our Social Studies program is to produce informed and socially responsible citizens with an appreciation and respect for cultural diversity.

1st Grade
Students develop understanding of basic concepts from civics, economics, geography and history. The contextual focus of their study is school and family. Topics covered include: rights and responsibilities of citizenship and diversity of holidays and cultures.

2nd Grade
Students apply some of their basic understandings to the concept of community, both locally and around the world. Concepts covered include kinds of communities, maps and globes, citizenship, holidays, people at work, rules and government, and other countries and cultures.

3rd Grade
Students examine physical environments and how those environments affect people. Within the context of communities, they focus on geography, early America, immigration, government, economics and culture.

4th Grade
Students use their understanding of concepts and skills to explore Pennsylvania’s past and present. Areas of study include Pennsylvania regions, economy and history. Particular attention is paid to Philadelphia’s history and its role in early America through the History Hunters Program and field trips provided from the Germantown Historical Society.

5th Grade
Students weave together their understandings of civil rights and responsibilities with conflict and resolution as they study U.S. history the Revolutionary War through Reconstruction.

6th Grade
Students use historical research tools to explore Ancient Civilizations of the Mediterranean region, including the ancient Sumerians, Assyrians, Egyptians, Israelites, Greeks, and Romans.

7th Grade
Students practice and apply the tools of the historian as they examine the role of politics, economics, and culture to history. Topics include Ancient Greece and Rome, Medieval Europe, Ancient and Medieval China, Feudal Japan, Ancient and Medieval India, the Middle East in the Middle Ages, and Western Africa.

8th Grade
Students apply their understanding of historical and cultural principles to a study of the United States. They review and research major events in America from 1776-1865 before moving on to Westward Expansion, Reconstruction, the Gilded Age and Immigration, Reform Movements and Progressivism, Imperialism and Foreign Policy, World War I, and the 1920’s.

Visual Arts

Art-making provides children with opportunities to self-reflect, practice problem solving, consider multiple viewpoints, and utilize creative thinking skills. The visual arts program supports an interdisciplinary experience that helps expand student understanding of artistic concepts, cultural traditions and the context of artwork in art history. Through aesthetic inquiry and group discussions, students compare and describe works of art and make meaningful observations about the work they see and the world around them. Students are encouraged to inquire, wonder, discover, and innovate.

The content standards spiral through the years Grades 1-8

1.) Creating: Generate and conceptualize artistic ideas and work
Organize and develop artistic ideas and work
Refine and complete artistic work

2.) Presenting: Select, analyze, and interpret work for presentation
Develop and refine artistic techniques and work for presentation
Convey meaning through the presentation of artistic work

3.)Responding: Perceive and analyze artistic work
Interpret intent and meaning in artistic work
Apply criteria to evaluate artistic work

4.) Connecting: Synthesize and relate knowledge and personal experiences to make art
Relate artistic ideas and works with societal, cultural, and historical context to deepen understanding.


Music expands the creative abilities of all students and expresses personal, cultural, and universal ideas. Music promotes individual and collaborative learning through the knowledge of diverse genres, styles and cultures. Each student will have access to a balanced, comprehensive and sequential program. In addition, to general music instruction that includes instruments, students also have the opportunity to join the choir, participate in a musical production and also have instrumental instruction and be members of a band.(Grades 3-8)

The content standards spiral through the years Grades 1-8.

1.) Singing: sing alone and with others a varied repertoire of music

2.) Instrumental performance: perform on instruments, alone and with others a varied repertoire of music

3.) Improvisation: Improvise melodies, variations and accompaniments

4.) Composition: compose and arrange music with specific guidelines

5.) Music Notation: Read and notate music

6.) Music Appreciation: Listen to, describe, and analyze musical performances

7.) Music Connections: Understand the relationships between music, the other arts, history and culture, and disciplines outside of the arts

World Language

7th and 8th Grades

Students receive a basic introduction to conversation in French and Spanish language. Cultural aspects of the French/Spanish speaking worlds are also studied in each half of the year.

Concepts covered include:

Alphabet, Numbers, Simple conversation,Body parts,Residences, Classroom objects and commands, Food and drink, Colors, Clothing, Time, Calendar items, Animals, Geography

Physical Education/Health

Physical Education is a co-educational class for the entire grade in Grades 1-4.

In Grades 5-8, the class is single gender for Grades 5 and 6 together and for Grades 7 and 8 together.

1st-3rd Grades: Play developmentally appropriate cooperative games and activities, with focus on motor skill development, team building, and basic skills such as throwing, catching, kicking and running.

4th-6th Grades: Participate in components of skill related fitness, build concepts of motor skill development, practice strategies for skill improvement, team games, and application of game strategy.

7th and 8th Grades: Further develop team game skills and strategy, practice physical activities for a lifetime, develop personal preferences, analyze physical activities, complete fitness assessments and create exercise/activity routines.

Health class is co-educational for the entire grade in Grades 1-4. In Grades 5-8, the class is single gender for Grades 5 and 6 as well as for Grades 7 and 8. The teachers use a text and a variety of age appropriate resource materials.

1st- 3rd Grades: Study human growth and development, nutrition, safety, personal hygiene, building relationships.

4th-6th Grades: Students continue study of human growth and development as well puberty (in 5th and 6th Grades,) discuss personal health practices, drugs and alcohol, peer pressure and relationships, media influence, decision making and safety.

7th and 8th Grades: Further study of human development and sexuality, personal heath practices, analysis of nutritional and other healthy choices, intervention and conflict resolution strategies.

Learning Support

The Elementary/Middle School division has a Title I Reading and Math Specialist as well as a Math support teacher, all of whom support students in and out of the classrooms. Girard also has services in Speech and Occupational Therapy provided by Catapult.

Emotional Support

Social and Emotional Learning Competencies are a part of our instruction and guidance. School counselors are available to provide age-appropriate guidance to the students both in the instructional and in the residential program. Teachers and residential advisors are also able to brainstorm strategies with the counselors in grade-level meetings. Counselors work with groups and individuals but also make recommendations for students who may need more consistent services.

Summer Support

Summer camp programs on campus provide required remedial or enrichment opportunities for select students. All Elementary/Middle School students are provided with a list of suggested books to read and are required to read one specific book and complete a study packet. In addition, students are required to complete a workbook to practice grade level skills in Math as well as English/Language Arts.

Experiential Learning

Each grade level supports it curriculum with assemblies, activities and field trips both in the city of Philadelphia and out of state! We are able to take great advantage of the Philadelphia Orchestra, the Zoo and all of the local museums. The Elementary/Middle School Band and Choir also perform at many local venues.

Some trips include: History Hunters Program (Philadelphia’s historic houses), New York City, Washington DC, Lancaster County, local outdoor education programs, Hawk Mountain and the Lackawanna Coal Mine.


There are many treasured pep-rallies, concerts, arts show openings, seasonal parties or events like Elementary/Middle School’s Water Day and the Halloween Parade that we all look forward to every year!

Schoolwide traditions include:

-“Cavalier Day”- A cooperative Field Day where students in all grades show their school pride in being a member of the Steel Team or of the Garnet Team!

-“Founder's Day” – A series of fun events over a weekend, students and almuni alike gather to honor our visionary founder, Stephen Girard!