Core Knowledge Courses


The foundation of Core Knowledge is cultural literacy – the knowledge that western cultures share in common about ourselves, others, our history, the world.

We teach knowledge in the Classical tradition guided by the belief that every well educated person should know and have measurable skills in the following topics:

Earth Sciences and Weather
Idioms and Proverbs

Life Sciences
Medicine and the Human Body
Music, Art and Architecture

Physical Sciences
Politics and Economics
World Religions and Sacred Texts

With the increased national focus on math and science instruction, SHPA has chosen two highly regarded curricula.

Saxon Math, developed by John Saxon, is a teaching method for learning mathematics in increments that builds on knowledge already learned. Students learn a new mathematical concept every day and are continually reviewing old concepts. Saxon Math’s primary strength is in a steady review of all previous material, which is especially important to students who struggle with retaining the math they previously learned.

In all learning before pre-Algebra, one day’s class includes completing mental math problems, learning a new mathematical concept, practicing problems relating to that lesson, and solving a varied number of problems which include what the students learned today and in select previous lessons. This daily cycle is adjusted for tests and additional topics. After pre-Algebra, the mental math is dropped and tests are given more frequently. This continual reinforcement helps cement the knowledge and understanding of math, not just the doing of math.

We use Pearson’s Science Curriculum for Middle School students. This sequence of study is strongly grounded in STEM education – Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics. Science is alive in the classroom with interactive technology and real-world case studies to spark students’ natural interest in science and create life-long critical thinkers.

We use this program because:

  • The curriculum has extensive supplemental materials.
  • Both online and text resources are available.
  • The curriculum has adapted materials for struggling language learners, auditory learners, and those students needing reading level or vocabulary assistance.

Trivium is a quarter-long course that integrates the Classical subjects of logic, composition and rhetoric/debate through emphasized study in Logic in Sixth Grade, Composition in Seventh Grade, and finally Debate in Eighth Grade. Trivium is designed to improve students’ critical and creative thinking, writing, and public speaking skills.

Core Knowledge holds that early elementary education is the best time to introduce the study of language structures. Language structures, in turn, serve as the foundation for understanding the increasingly complex vocabulary, concepts, and paradigms of more advanced studies. Latin instruction is taught all grades at SHPA, including Kindergarten, as part of students’ studies in Classical Education. Our Latin program is content rich, drawing from the cultural influences, texts, and history which shaped the language.

Music and the arts are essential complements to both our greater school vision for educating the whole person through study of the liberal arts and the Core Knowledge Scope and Sequence. An early introduction to the arts provides students with opportunities to sing, dance, listen, express, draw, create, and act in an atmosphere that encourages self-confidence, personal expression, greater participation, and assists with skills development and subject mastery. Our music and visual arts programs impact the academic achievement, high level thinking, and well-rounded nature of SHPA students.

SHPA student have physical education regularly. Our PE program is designed to reflect National Standards for growth and development in the areas of physical fitness and nutrition, social and emotional health, motor skill acquisition, and intellectual skill and concept development. The body’s response to physical exercise improves student performance and success in the classroom by stimulating brain function, visual and physical acuity; physical, mental, and social health is also improved.

The Middle School at SHPA fully integrates technology into our curriculum as a support to our Classical education model. The use of technology assists, not drives, our learning in the following ways:

  1. Every classroom is outfitted with a computer for student use, a LCE projector, and additional educational tools, such as a document camera, mimeograph, software programs, etc.
  2. All teachers have site permission to access at least one online learning resource as well as up to five subject-specific educational iPad applications.
  3. Each classroom is equipped with at least three student computer workstations.
  4. A telecommunications system is in place that allows for important announcements, emergency alerts, and a class period timer.
  5. We have increased support for assistive technology and manipulatives in delivering Special Education services.
  6. Our use of supplementary curricula is enhanced for remedial and enrichment Reading and Math programs.
  7. We offer ongoing continuing professional development for staff in the implementation and evaluation of technology in particular contexts.
  8. We provide ongoing updates and reviews regarding optimal use of the school database and its related applications.
  9. Students have access to our media center for additional classroom learning as well as standardized test administration.
  10. We continually review the appropriate and advantageous role of technology within a classical, liberal arts educational setting among school stakeholders and provide technology conferences and regular meetings.