University School provides a learning environment like none other in the Lowcountry. Students come from across the tri-county area: Charleston, Daniel Island, Folly Beach, Isle of Palms, Mount Pleasant, North Charleston, Sullivan’s Island, Summerville, and West Ashley. As as a laptop school, every student and teacher is provided a wireless notebook computer. We are the only school in the state that has students receiving high-level instruction in three languages at the same time. We believe in offering an individualized, hands-on approach to learning that fosters excellence in our students.
LEARNING BY DOING
Regular interaction with and service to the community are hallmarks of our program. We believe that experiencing the world beyond our classroom walls creates students who are better prepared to be thoughtful, engaged citizens in the future.
Learning Outside the Classroom (LOTC)
The Lowcountry is our classroom, and students spend one day per week away from campus having experiences that challenge and inspire them. This entails over 30 field trips per year. Explore this year’s LOTC calendar to see how we’re getting to know our community.
One of our 2017 High School graduates had this to say about the impact of LOTCs:
“In my seven years at USL, I’ve visited more than twenty-five houses of worship, six military bases, and six plantations. I’ve taken weeklong trips to Louisiana, Washington, DC, North Carolina, Georgia, and Texas. I’ve had conversations with surgeons, painters, farmers, and chefs. After exploring so many unfamiliar places and getting to know people whose lives are so different from my own, new experiences aren’t intimidating to me anymore; they’re exciting.”
Service to the Community
University School has participated in the Trident United Way’s Day of Caring since 2009, and at the 2016 event contributed over 500 hours of service at 12 nonprofits and public schools across the Tricounty area. USL students also host community groups, schools, homeschoolers, and the general public for shows and speakers 6-7 times per year, and we partner with them for several community service activities throughout the year.
USL engages in collaborative opportunities in the arts with community partners like Redux Contemporary Art Studio, ArtBuzz Kids, The Artists’ Loft, and Paper Rock Scissors. University School also regularly hosts cultural performance groups and shares these events with the greater community. Several of our Learning Outside the Classroom experiences are also arts-focused, giving students the chance to experience everything from live theatre to instrumental performances to art museums. We also encourage you to learn more about the art classes that are part of our curriculum.
Citizenship & Government
In order to be better informed citizens of our community and the world, University School students are very involved in annual election cycles. We interact with candidates, research different political parties, and explore issues of governance and civics. USL students also conduct exit polls across the Lowcountry and then make informed predictions based on their results. Learn more about our most recent exit polling experience here.
In order to prepare to be better informed citizens of the community and the world, University School students learn first hand about faiths by going to houses of worship to explore and talk to adherents of that religion. Since 2010, University School students have visited the following houses of worship: Holy Ascension Orthodox Church, Emanuel AME Church, Christ Our King-Stella Maris School, Synagogue Emanu-El, US Army Chaplain Center and School & Museum (Fort Jackson, Columbia), Louis Gregory Baha’i Museum, Hindu Temple and Cultural Center, Washington National Cathedral, Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, Central Mosque of Charleston, The Saint Louis Cathedral (New Orleans), Blessed Sacrament Catholic Church, All Saints Lutheran Church, The Unitarian Church in Charleston, Charleston Tibetan Society (Buddhist), Brith Sholom Beth Israel Synagogue, and Mepkin Abbey.
Engaging with military members allows our school and our students to show appreciation for their service to our country, as well as to learn firsthand about their role in protecting us. We endeavor to visit at least one military installation, museum, or national park/monument each year. You can learn about some of our memorable experiences here.
These classes are designed to expose students to the discipline of studying a global language, and they also emphasize an appreciation of different cultures. To capably function in an increasingly interconnected world, America’s future citizens will need proficiency in non-English languages. Each University School student studies Spanish and Latin, and our students are exposed to Hebrew and Arabic through guest teachers. USL will also strive to accommodate additional language interests of each student. For both the Intermediate and Middle Schools, Latin is studied for its lasting benefits for one’s education: improvements in English grammar, vocabulary roots, and increased precision with words. USL’s IS students explore Mandarin to gain an understanding of Chinese culture and language, including both the unique characters and the pinyin (phonetics). Learn more about our Spanish curriculum in the Intermediate School and the Middle School.
This is an integrated History/Language Arts course focused on multiple skills: writing, reading, speaking, and listening. Students are asked to read for both enjoyment and content. Novels, short stories, plays, essays, poetry, and other primary sources are encountered regularly. A heavy emphasis is placed on improving writing, specifically drafting, rewriting, revising, editing, and polishing the final product. Our students are taught to write for a wide variety of purposes. Individual projects, classroom discussions, and oral presentations are common requirements. As students mature within the program, our expectations for in-depth thinking and high quality work increase. There is also a strong arts component, and this includes creating works that are found in the period of study. All students study history, world geography and cultures, and contemporary world issues. Humanities classes are presented in an interactive environment with a special focus on debate, simulations, oral history, research, and projects. Learn more about our three-year cycles for teaching various topics in the Intermediate School and the Middle School.
Leadership & Life Skills
This is a class for all students that integrates together the lessons from the other disciplines. We regularly watch and discuss CNN Student News, and lessons in geography and history emanate from the “issues of the day” that emerge with each passing day. Guest speakers, student job shadow days, and field experiences (Learning Outside the Classroom) originate in L&L Skills in collaboration with the teachers in the other disciplines. Students also regularly create and share reflections about what they have learned. In addition, students take ownership for their Leadership Skill Wheel, which USL uses to evaluate students each quarter (in addition to grades and narrative comments), and this includes averaging and sorting their numbers in each discipline and planning a strategy to improve them. Simply click to view the Intermediate School Skill Wheel or Middle School Skill Wheel.
Our curriculum includes the latest understanding of best practices as advanced by the National Council of Teachers of Mathematics (NCTM), and we follow the standards for grades 4-8. University School uses the Singapore Math program through grade 6, and it is lauded for its clarity and effectiveness. The program encourages our students to think mathematically and solve significant problems in addition to learning and practicing the basic processes of arithmetic. For math in grade 7 and beyond, University School uses several approaches to help each student fulfill their potential. The Math program is individualized for each student, allowing proficient students to thrive and advance and master material at an accelerated pace. Students have the opportunity to gain additional high school credit by taking Algebra II and/or Geometry. No other school in the state does this.
Our courses use the scientific method to provide for in-depth study of core concepts in biological, physical, chemical and environmental sciences. USL science classes help students understand scientific processes, record and communicate findings, and appreciate the role of science in the modern world. Instructional methods are inquiry based, and students engage in frequent lab work, and they research and analyze topics at a high-school level. Learn more about our three-year cycle of themes for the Middle School.
This USL-developed course is one of our hallmark features. It is designed to increase each student’s proficiency in crafting and revising responses to prompts using a variety of writing styles, as well as provide direct grammar instruction. Assignments are diverse and frequent, and feedback and revisions are individualized and include attention to grammar.
This allows for students to engage in pursuits geared to their individual interests and talents. This can include additional courses in Math and/or Global Languages, on-line courses, guided independent study or time for homework or other interests. For example, a student may concurrently take two Math courses or two separate Global Languages, and the student can earn high school credit for both. This time is also occasionally used for all-class and all-school theme-based seminars.