Academic Overview

OUR PHILOSOPHY


St. James is a child-centered school whose goal is to develop the whole child — academically, physically, emotionally, and spiritually. Each of our school divisions, PreSchool (K3-Prep, K3, and K4, and Kindergarten), Lower School (Primer, 1st, 2nd, and 3rd grades), and Middle School (4th, 5th, and 6th grades) strives to balance core academics with the arts, technology, foreign language, and physical education because we know that children who are offered a well-rounded education are the most successful teenagers, college students, and adults. While some schools consider anything outside reading, math, and science as a frill, we think they are necessary for a classical education. Our specialized classes are taught by specialized teachers whose focus is on their particular subject.

Foreign language begins in our four-year-old class. Students from K4 through 3rd grade study Spanish each week. Beginning in 4th grade, Spanish instructions continue but French is introduced or practiced during at least one grading period of the year, and Latin is introduced in 5th and 6th grade.

Every child has a P.E. class every day at St. James Day School. St. James believes in developing the body as well as the mind, and knows that physical exercise and release is essential to any educational foundation. Optional tennis instruction is available for those students who choose to be pulled from P.E. twice weekly for tennis.

Our visual art program begins in kindergarten as students work with our Artist in Residence, learning art history as they create original works in the styles of famous painters. The School also has its own kiln, and older grades learn basic sculpturing techniques before firing their creations

Music appreciation and history are interspersed with practice on choral performance throughout the year. The two traditional performances held each year are Candlelight, just before the Christmas holidays, and a spring musical performance at a local theater by children in grades one through six. Even our youngest experience the thrill of performing before their peers and their parents as they perform a Thanksgiving program and a Spring Program in the Commons each year. K4, Kindergarten, and Primer all present Christmas programs to their families and invited guests, and K4 ends the year with a talent show showcasing talents and interests of each child. Private after school piano lessons and, when a teacher is available, string lessons are available to students who parents wish to enroll them for those programs.

Technology is used by and taught across the curriculum by each teacher. The School maintains two state-of-the-art Macintosh computer labs, and each teacher has one to three computers in the classroom. An Instructional Technology Director trains teachers on a weekly basis and teaches applications to each class. Computers are not considered a separate course of study at St. James, but simply the tools with which modern educators teach and students learn and produce.

PRESCHOOL


While we believe in pushing each individual to achieve their potential, we do not like to push past limits of emotional age, mental readiness, and physical ability in an effort to speed reading, writing, and math skills before a child is ready. It can be done, but at what cost to that child? We understand child development and do not confine preschoolers to a desk all day. Our preschool is structured so that we have a K3-Prep class in which a child can enroll on his third birthday. This class feeds into our regular K3 class the following year. Four-year-olds have their own building designed for their age group, with a developmentally appropriate curriculum that stresses pre-reading skills and socialization, before moving from K4 to kindergarten.

Students are assessed throughout the year and, at the conclusion of the kindergarten year, a recommendation is made to each parent that a child either go on to first grade, or be a part of the primer class. The primer class is designed to bridge the gap between kindergarten and first grade for those children who might need another year of maturity or academics before going to first grade. The result of this structure is that our first grade students are ready to soar by the time they have completed our progressive preschool program. When string teachers are available, Kindergarten students also study class violin.

LOWER SCHOOL


While we believe in pushing each individual to achieve their potential, we do not like to push past limits of emotional age, mental readiness, and physical ability in an effort to speed reading, writing, and math skills before a child is ready. It can be done, but at what cost to that child? We understand child development and do not confine preschoolers to a desk all day. Our preschool is structured so that we have a K3-Prep class in which a child can enroll on his third birthday. This class feeds into our regular K3 class the following year. Four-year-olds have their own building designed for their age group, with a developmentally appropriate curriculum that stresses pre-reading skills and socialization, before moving from K4 to kindergarten.

MIDDLE SCHOOL


The Middle School program builds on the self-sufficiency and study skills learned in Lower School as literature and writing skills are taught more in-depth, and students compete in state robotics contests. Fourth graders hold a traditional International Fair for the whole school to learn the background and cultures of Texas immigrants. Fifth and sixth grade classes often combine their creative projects to showcase a China exhibit, a Marco Polo Journey, a Renaissance Fair, or a living Egyptian exhibit in conjunction with their American and world history courses. Spoken and written Spanish continues in grades four, five, and six, but one quarter of the foreign language curriculum is spent on French for these three grades. A weekly Latin class is added in fifth grade.