Academics

At New City School, we strive to build upon our students' curiosity, inspire a love of learning, and foster self-awareness. Our students learn to be researchers and problem solvers who respectfully express themselves and their beliefs while relentlessly seeking out a diversity of thought. Our curriculum is intentionally designed to graduate students who view the world through the lenses of equity and social justice and lead with purpose, passion and empathy.  

Our faculty and administration are committed to meeting the needs of each child. Therefore, they work together to create a dynamic curriculum founded in brain research and an understanding of the multiple intelligences. They collaborate in grade level teams and as a whole faculty to reflect upon and continually develop and refine a curriculum that is developmentally appropriate and that builds upon itself year by year. Like our students, our teachers are ongoing learners; therefore, individuals and groups of teachers regularly attend professional development workshops and conferences to further inform their curriculum and instruction. Our curriculum is designed through an inquiry stance and our teachers and students deepen their understanding through the use of essential questions and authentic learning.

Communication between families and teachers is an important part of a child’s education. Our teachers are easily reachable by phone, email, or in person. Intake conferences are held during the first weeks of school and Back to School Night takes place in early September. Teachers send out weekly classroom newsletters to share more about the curriculum and what students are currently learning about with families. Each family has a conference with their child’s primary teacher in October and March and additional conferences can be scheduled as needed throughout the year. Narrative progress reports are sent home in early January and late May to document students’ growth.

Click below to learn more about a specific subject area. 

Art & Spatial

Every day is filled with discovery, creativity, and reflection in the New City School art studio. Our young artists are weavers, painters, architects, designers, sculptors, photographers, potters, and printmakers. In addition to a wide variety of art making experiences, we use contemporary art, art criticism, and aesthetics to help us create and grow while focusing on the following:

  • creativity
  • confidence
  • collaboration
  • communication
  • community

Everyone can use the arts as a tool to better understand themself and their world, to appreciate the beauty in the ordinary, and to create the extraordinary. Artists strive to not just become problem solvers but problem finders who use inquiry and creativity to help make our world a better place. The art program is built around yearly themes that tie-in with the classroom curriculum. These themes give the students the opportunity to express themselves as artists as well as allowing them to make connections to classroom learning. Exploration, processes, and creativity are at the heart of the art program.

Bodily-Kinesthetic (P.E.)

Children throwing balls in the gym

The most important goal of the bodily-kinesthetic program at New City is to help students acquire the skills, knowledge and motivation to incorporate physical fitness into their daily lives.

In Kindergarten through 6th Grades, the bodily-kinesthetic program builds upon the preprimary music and movement curriculum. In the younger grades, there is still a heavy emphasis on spatial awareness and motor development, coordination, risk-taking and cooperation. Skills are developed through games, group interactions, and individualized practice. As students move further into the elementary years, the curriculum continues to develop coordination skills through activities such as individualized fitness and exercise, daily running, specific skill introduction, and non-competitive games.

In the upper grades, team sports are introduced to further develop complex coordination skills, strength, agility, body control and self-confidence. Students participate in a variety of team sports such as soccer, floor hockey, basketball, and volleyball. At all levels, sportsmanship, teamwork and individual physical fitness are at the core of all that we do. Extracurricular opportunities begin in kindergarten and involve indoor and outdoor soccer, basketball, t-ball, softball and baseball. Large portions of our students participate on these parent-coached teams, and play against other schools in the area.

Library & MI Centers

The New City School Multiple Intelligences Library is a joyful place where all the students look forward to being. It is not only an aesthetically pleasing environment, but is also a place full of energy, learning, and exploring. The library possesses many of the components of a traditional library, such as an extensive collection of over 14,000 wonderful children's books. We employ a full-time librarian who helps instill a love of reading and learning in our students. Students in each grade are introduced to a variety of genres and are read to during every library period

Interior of New City School's Multiple Intelligences library

In addition to this more traditional role, however, there are numerous other aspects of the New City Multiple Intelligences Library. A Multiple Intelligences Coordinator regularly works with the students to incorporate various activities to enhance a year-long MI theme focus. The space itself was designed with a number of components that help enhance the use of multiple intelligences. There is a small amphitheater that is wonderful for small performances, storytelling, and role-playing. A larger area works well for bigger groups of students to gather for guest speakers, student presentations, and performances. The Exploratorium has dry erase walls, a sink, and a tile floor which allows for numerous art projects or other types of “messy” work. There are many puzzles and games throughout the library as well as miscellaneous items to touch and explore.

Children drawing while sitting at a table in the library.

The space and the curriculum are designed to allow students to use all of their intelligences to interact with the written word. The librarian and the MI specialist work together to create an environment where students can relax, explore, create, read, write, problem-solve, role-play, and think.

LIBRARY SKILLS

Library skills are taught at each grade level, and range from teaching children to use the electronic library system, to understanding different literary genres, to teaching research tools and skills, to exploring the online database and catalog. Children of all ages are read to regularly and are introduced to new works by the librarian. In addition, children learn to make appropriate book choices that are right for their reading level and interests. 

MI CENTERS

An important aspect of the library program are the weekly MI centers that are set up in the library to expose students to activities that will have them actively involved in games, projects, book, art activities, role-playing, writings, and reflections within the library setting. Examples of the centers include small performances of stories that have been read, art projects inspired by a particular illustrator, using tangrams to further explore stories, among many others. Using the eight intelligences, students can always discover a new way to be engaged by the wealth of books and stories that they have available to them.

The MI library is also the hub of New City’s Games Program. The purpose of this program—coordinated by the librarian—is to help students learn not only the skills of the games they will play, but to allow the students to explore the logical-mathematical, spatial, linguistic, and of course the personal intelligences.

Students are taught the various games (Checkers, Chess, Othello, and Boggle) and through their play, enhance their problem-solving and critical thinking skills. Grade-level tournaments are held to reinforce good sportsmanship, and the winners from each grade go on to play against an administrator.

From first to sixth grade, students get the opportunity to learn a new skill, practice that skill, and compete with others in an environment that focuses on the values of sportsmanship and fair play. A hallmark of these tournaments is the stress that is placed on sportsmanship. How one wins well and loses well is a constant refrain.

Two children playing Othello board game

How one wins is as important as how one loses. Joe Corbett, New City School Information Specialist

Linguistics Skills (Reading & Writing)

The goal of our reading and writing curriculum is to deepen students’ understanding of the key mindsets and skills of readers and writers to help them become joyful, thoughtful, creative writers and readers. Uncovering stories and perspective-taking are core to our program. 

Our reading and writing curriculum are closely connected and grounded in the research proven workshop structure in which teachers model an explicit strategy that students then practice independently, in partnerships, or in small groups. Throughout the workshop time, teachers provide feedback and coaching towards students’ individualized goals. Grammar, vocabulary, and word study are taught within the context of reading and writing workshop.

Preschool students take the first steps to becoming  writers by drawing pictures to illustrate their ideas and stories. They begin writing by approximating letter formation with squiggles. With time, practice, and development, pictures become more detailed and squiggles begin to form letters. Students in Kindergarten through 6th Grade write narrative, persuasive, and informational pieces and learn to effectively communicate their ideas towards a variety of purposes and audiences. Topic choice within a given genre is largely based on the passions and interests of individual students. Our youngest children begin this journey by writing books, learning to be “brave spellers,” and growing their confidence as writers. They work on discerning the difference between writing stories (narrative) and “expert” books (nonfiction). By 2nd and 3rd Grade, students begin to craft more detailed and organized writing pieces. Their writing gains depth and meaning as they learn to explain their ideas more fully. Students begin to apply spelling rules they have mastered, as well as use punctuation to guide their readers in meaningful ways. Students in these grades conduct research in order to write more developed and informative pieces and to persuade their readers. They also begin to expand their narrative writing by choosing small key moments to stretch out. By the upper grades, students spend ample time envisioning, planning, crafting, and revising their pieces. The pieces students write at this level are organized, edited, thoughtfully crafted, and full of voice. Students write pieces such as memoir, literary and research based essays, and historical fiction.

In reading workshop, book choice is based as much as possible on the passions and interests of individual students and exposure to a variety of genres. There is also dedicated time for readers to discuss their books in partnerships and book clubs in order to deepen their understanding about what they are reading. Our preschool students are immersed in a language and print rich environment which allows time for them to explore, play with and experience the power of words. Language development is the foundation for all learning. Preschool students begin to recognize the letters in their own names and that print has meaning. They love to “read” familiar books or join in when stories have repetition and rhyme. Beginning in the youngest grades, students learn to increase their stamina as readers. They practice the habits of strong readers by choosing books that match their abilities and using strategies to decode challenging words. By the middle elementary grades, readers build their “toolbox” of strategies. They monitor their reading for comprehension as they move into longer books where characters become more multi-dimensional and nonfiction is filled with layered facts. By the upper elementary grades, students are reading more sophisticated texts in a wide variety of genres. As readers, they develop theories and inferences about characters and track character changes. Students find text evidence to support their thinking and read with a critical eye to distinguish fact from fiction. When reading nonfiction, students read widely and deeply within a topic to broaden their understandings and synthesize information.

Math

As our students move from the 3/4s to sixth grade, they learn concepts and skills in the five core content strands: number and operations; algebra; geometry; measurement; and data analysis and probability. Teachers teach developmentally appropriate topics within these strands in keeping with standards from the National Council of Teachers of Mathematics.

Our mathematics curriculum is designed to develop students who approach math with confidence and enthusiasm and think creatively, flexibly, and critically. Students develop strong conceptual understandings through the use of concrete representations before moving to more abstract representations. This focus on understanding helps students communicate and justify their thinking and later connect their understandings to procedural skills. Real-life problems and data provide opportunities for the students to analyze, estimate, organize, develop strategies, reason, and calculate. Mistakes are valued and seen as opportunities for students to clarify their ideas, become comfortable taking risks, and listen to and build on the ideas of peers. Our mathematics instruction is founded in equity, which means we have high expectations and strong support for all students. Our teachers engage their students in complex tasks that lead to productive struggle in order to grow students’ perseverance and reasoning skills. 

"Neuroscience shows that when we work on a mathematics problem, five different pathways in the brain are involved, including two that are visual. When students can make connections between these brain regions, seeing, for example, a mathematical idea in numbers and in a picture, more productive and powerful brain connections develop. When we invite people to gesture, draw, visualize, or build with numbers, for example, we create opportunities for important brain connections that are not made when they only encounter numbers in symbolic forms. "Jo Boaler, Professor of Mathematics Education, Stanford University

Through mathematics instruction, our students pursue questions such as: Why does this make sense? How many ways can I solve this? Is there a more efficient way? How can I explain my thinking to others? Teachers provide students opportunities to engage in exploration and make sense of important mathematics, processes, and relationships. As a result, our students are able to transfer their strategies and understandings to more complex, non-routine problems.

Music

Music at New City School is a comprehensive program that begins in the pre-primary classrooms and extends through 6th Grade. At all age levels, there is an emphasis on listening, performing, and creating music in order to develop students’ understanding of the traditional elements of music, while also being reflective of the diversity of cultures that makeup New City and the musical history of St. Louis. The music department collaborates closely with the Performing Arts program (as well as grade level classes) to feature music at assemblies, grade level performances, talent shows, and other school events. The Music in Our School performance in the spring is a highlight of the year, and features all music students and ensembles.

In the pre-primary grades, music consists of movement and dance songs as students learn introductory elements of pitch, meter, and form. In addition to singing, Kindergarten through 3rd Grade add percussion, recorders, and mallet instruments to explore a variety of music genres while building competency in tonality, rhythm, harmony, dynamics, and music notation. 4th Grade through 6th Grade music classes perform expanded arrangements for instrumental and vocal performance and deepen their understanding of music history, music theory, and the cultural importance of music. Recording software and audio production tools are incorporated regularly as students learn to create and use music for individual and group projects.

Additional instrumental music options begin in 3rd Grade as students may select woodwind, brass, strings, or percussion instruments for study during music class and for participation in other extended afternoon programs. Supplementary ensembles include Beginning and Advanced Band, String Ensemble, and Vocal Ensemble. Ensembles perform at both a winter and spring concert with additional performances at music festivals, special community events, and other venues. Guest artists and music clinicians are a regular feature of the program with the intention to best prepare students for continued study of music in secondary school and beyond.

Naturalist (Science)

Students in science lab categorizing rocks

The study of science is approached in a variety of ways from the discovery method in the preprimary classrooms, through thematic instruction in the primary years, and in specific science classes taught by our science specialist in 3rd through 6th Grades.

In all grades, science is experientially based, exposing children to real-life experiences whenever possible, and is formulated to help students build an understanding of the world around them. Using an inquiry-based process, students participate in activities that require them to be scientists using the scientific method of investigation. Through numerous, hands-on experiments and projects, students learn to observe, describe, sort, classify, measure, analyze and hypothesize as a basis for more advanced scientific skill sets. Classes take numerous field trips (including overnight trips for 4th-6th Grades) to explore STEM concepts outside of the classroom. 

Science teacher pouring material from a beaker into a larger container with student assistant

In addition to our science lab, our outdoor garden and naturalist area is a wonderful asset where students can play, observe, plant and explore. Students have multiple opportunities to interact with nature and teachers have multiple opportunities to integrate nature into their lessons using the dry creek bed, native tall grasses, planter boxes, digging areas, and quiet areas which allow for reflection. In addition, the belief that the Naturalist intelligence exists in all of us further heightens the integration of science/naturalist activities into the daily curriculum.

Performing Arts

New City School's performing arts program is designed to provide an expansive collection of experiences before a variety of audiences, with a continuous focus on helping each child gain confidence important in all settings. Students in each grade level spend time singing, drumming, making and playing instruments of their own, composing music, dancing, choreographing, storytelling, acting, juggling, learning acrobatics, and more.

Child dressed as Peter Pan poses triumphantly during a performance

Small performances are given regularly, slightly larger performances are offered for parents, and each grade level performs at least one larger production shared as a school-wide assembly and an evening event. Additional opportunities, such as Drama Club, Strings Ensemble, Concert Band, and private music lessons for various instruments are offered during the after school hours for those who wish to supplement their Performing Arts education. Success is measured not merely in the mastery of specific skills, but, more importantly, in how much confidence each child has gained.

Preprimary Music & Movement

Music and performing arts are integrated into the preprimary classrooms as well as being key components of the Preprimary Music and Movement Program. Our youngest students attend Music and Movement class to begin the process of learning notation, rhythm, steady beat, the joy of singing, as well as fine tuning locomotor and gross motor movements. Combining music and movement at this is age is natural and allows students the opportunity to use their voices and bodies to interpret and respond to music, sing, dance, role-play and create.

Moving is a fundamental activity for young children. They run, jump, hop and fall down; they are in constant motion. Through movement, children learn gross and fine motor skills, and a sense of rhythm and spatial awareness. At New City, music and movement are intertwined – movement expresses the rhythm of music with your body. Research has shown that using music and movement together uses both sides of the brain, which leads to stronger growth and development.

Preprimary students go to music and movement class daily. The children are introduced to manipulative props such as resistance bands, ribbons, scarves, and the parachute. They are also introduced to basic percussion instruments such as rhythm sticks, shakers, tambourines, xylophones and hand drums. Non-competitive games and simple folk dances expand student knowledge and help to create a sense of teamwork, responsibility and social interaction.

Social Studies

Our social studies curriculum reflect our deep commitment to diversity and is designed towards providing an anti-bias, multicultural and social justice education for our students. Through age-appropriate topics, discussions, and learning experiences, students learn to study and reflect on their own lives and the lives of others as they work to identify, understand, and advocate for critical issues in our diverse, interdependent world. Within our social studies instruction, our students pursue questions such as: Who am I? How am I connected? How can I lead for change? Students use of a variety of resources to uncover multiple perspectives and build more complex understandings. They learn to question whose story is being told and whose story they need to research further. These studies are grounded in understanding the social studies content strands of geography, culture, economics, government, and history. Our teachers also make sure to leave room for inquiry so that students can research specific areas of interest within the broader topic.

In Kindergarten and 1st Grade, students come to understand themselves and the multiple communities of which they are a part. By 2nd and 3rd Grade, they begin to understand how we, as global citizens, learn from the past to help shape the future. In 4th and 5th Grade, students embark on in depth studies of government and the history of our country from colonization through the Civil Rights era, in order to understand how institutions and systems were formed in our country, and why people survive, thrive, and come into conflict. By 6th Grade, students engage in a deep study of their own identity, unpack current events, and step outside of the United States to seek a deeper understanding of people and communities throughout the world. 
 

Spanish/Español

Student completing a worksheet at a desk

The foreign language program introduces students to not only the Spanish language but to Hispanic cultures as well. Because the world is figuratively getting smaller, people travel more extensively, and, most importantly, because the United States is becoming more ethnically diverse, learning to communicate in a foreign language has become more important. In order to understand language, however, one must understand the native cultures and peoples who speak the language. Foreign language studies at New City involve not only the study of vocabulary, grammar, literature and writing, but also learning what ties us together and makes our cultures similar and different. We hope that throughout their study at New City School, students will use Spanish for their personal enjoyment, and find opportunities to use their skills beyond the school setting.

An MI approach is used to enhance learning in Spanish instruction. For example, students use their musical intelligences to learn Spanish songs and rhymes. Through their spatial intelligences, they analyze art from Spanish artists around the world. They create diagrams and charts using their logical-mathematical intelligences. Students act out vocabulary words, and write and perform in skits using their Spanish vocabulary.

Technology

Technology is an integral part of the curriculum, supporting growth and development across all intelligences.

Students today are 21st century learners, so our curriculum focuses on creativity and innovation, communication and collaboration with technology tools, information and media literacy, digital citizenship, and technology operations. In the computer lab, goals and projects are aligned with the International Society for Technology Education’s National Technology Education Standards (ISTE-NETS). Because tools of technology are ever changing, core ethics regarding intra- and inter-personal skills are taught so students will be able to transfer their understanding of current processes to new technologies as they develop. Skills taught at each grade level increase in difficulty in order to promote critical thinking and problem solving.

The goal of using technology in the classroom is to provide students with the resources and tools necessary to effectively assist in learning. In the grade-level classrooms, technology is used by students for research and inquiry, problem solving, innovation, creation, and sharing information. New City School has two computer labs, one PC and one Mac, 188 notebooks at a 1:1 computer to student ratio in 3rd through 6th Grades, classroom mini-labs of computers for 3/4s to 2nd Grade, and interactive whiteboards in every classroom. Each classroom also has point-and-shoot digital cameras that allow student presentations to be recorded for student reflection and documentation of growth, and a number of classrooms have iPads which students readily use.