We don’t need our students to be able to answer the questions of the past, or even the questions of today. Our students need to be able to answer the questions of the future. However, we don’t know what those questions will be yet. . . . So we need to equip our students with the problem-solving skills and techniques that will be useful—regardless of the questions they’re confronted with.

–Dennis Hu, Upper School math teacher and Diversity and Inclusion Coordinator

Learning at the Upper School

The Upper School nurtures the intellectual talents and interests of all our students, inspires them to turn inquiry into insight and empowers them to achieve their maximum potential. Here students are challenged to think, supported to think and eager to think—resulting in a deep and enjoyable education that lasts.

View an interactive version of the Curriculum Guide, click here.

Download a PDF of the Curriculum Guide, click here.

What Learning Looks Like

Working with teachers who are both accomplished in their fields and student-centered in their approach, Upper School students participate enthusiastically in the varied academic opportunities available in our diverse, respectful and caring classroom settings. In any given day, students explore labs, participate in deep and probing discussions, write critically and creatively, refine their thinking and learn to solve cutting-edge problems in pursuit of durable truths and usable skills. Our graduates enter a rapidly changing world with the tools to learn continuously, lead bravely and innovate humanely.

Our academic courses include appropriately challenging honors and Advanced Placement tracks. (Over the past three years, an average of 105 students per year took AP examinations in 16 areas, with 94% receiving scores of 3 or higher.) Other signature challenges include opportunities for independent research in science, a junior thesis in American history and an advanced mathematics and computer science sequence.

Other thoughtfully designed aspects of our curriculum, such as our Culture of Ethics, the writing program, the MKA Core, integrated technology and Global Experience, help to develop our students’ capacity to think critically and to prepare them for a meaningful life at college and beyond. In our technology-rich environment, the 1:1 laptop learning initiative gives students tools to enhance collaboration and exploration, helps them thrive in the classroom and readies them to succeed in today’s world.

Role of the Faculty

Upper School teachers provide the blend of challenge, guidance and support that fosters students’ independence. Faculty members enthusiastically work with students outside of class during Common Work Period (CWP), during a mutual free period before or after school or in the Math Lab. Students quickly realize that their teachers are their best resource for academic support, and, thanks to small class sizes, faculty members are able to meet students where they are and help them realize their unlimited academic potential.

Students’ Schedules

Our research-based, 75-minute class schedule provides ample opportunities for in-depth learning and has resulted in reduced student stress, increased schedule flexibility and higher grades and standardized test performance. Classes meet every other day, with four class periods, Common Work Period (CWP) and lunch daily. CWP allows students to collaborate, work one-on-one with faculty members, catch up on work or take a break. End-of-day activities include school meetings, guest speakers, advisor group meetings, club meetings and house competitions.

Learn more about the research that informs our 75-minute class schedule here.

Advisor Program

A key component of each Upper School Student’s experience, the advisor system goes beyond academic advising and supports our social and emotional learning goals. The pairing of advisor and advisee helps students achieve self-efficacy as members of the Upper School community and serves as a positive relationship that supports them as they navigate high school. The advisor/advisee relationship is built over four years, enabling advisors to see students develop from early teens to independent young adults ready for college life. In grade 9, the advisor program is supported by a robust peer leader program, which partners ninth graders with upperclassmen for mentorship and guidance.

College Counseling

In keeping with MKA’s commitment to strengthen each student’s intellect, character and confidence the goal of the College Counseling Office (CCO) is to foster self-awareness, self-reflection and self-advocacy. The counseling staff offers programs throughout the high school years to educate students and parents and to provide valuable, grade-appropriate advice.

Typically working with just 25–30 students each, counselors take an individualized approach to the college search and application process. The CCO’s arts and athletics liaisons serve as special advisors to students seeking to pursue these interests at the college level. Together with the Upper School faculty, advisors and administrators, the CCO team empowers students to take ownership of their high school experience and to feel proud of their accomplishments and prepared for life after MKA.

College Counseling Office


of students in grade 9 take Global Citizenship, preparing them to be ethical, engaged and informed members of the world community.


of Upper School students take three years of a world language, launching them on the road to fluency.


of Upper School students can opt to take sophisticated, niche courses, such as economics and computer science.


of Upper School students learn how to use a weight room and develop personal fitness regimens.


of students in grade 12 spend several weeks before graduation intensively pursuing an area of interest during May Term.

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