The Saint James' Elementary curriculum includes religious education, language arts and reading, mathematics, social science, history, science, music, art, Spanish, library, physical education, and community service.
In mathematics, we believe students learn by making sense of numbers, patterns, and operations in the world around them. They discover that there is more than one way to construct any solution, and they learn how to communicate their ideas productively and thoughtfully as they generate “big ideas” through this process. Students are encouraged to draw models, use materials, and share ideas in order to draw conclusions and move from concrete ideas to the more abstract.
Science is an investigative endeavor, and students delve into questions that must be answered through hands-on investigations and peer discussion. Students work both independently and cooperatively to uncover discoveries, as they develop and refine the important skill of generating their inquiry. They record their findings through regularly maintained scientific notebooks and use them as a reference and resource for learning. FOSS, the award-winning, STEM-based curriculum we use engages students in earth science, life science, and physical science, and all staff has been professionally trained to implement the curriculum in best practice.
Our goal in language arts is to create lifelong lovers of reading and writing. Quality literature, both fiction and non-fiction, is the foundation of our program. Students are regularly assessed on essential literacy skills and are placed in guided reading groups that target individual needs in the areas of word study, comprehension, fluency and vocabulary. Students have multiple opportunities to discuss text, practice comprehension strategies, and to participate in the writing process. Our literacy specialist works with each teacher to provide instruction catered to the literacy level of each student within every classroom.
Social Studies comes alive through the study of geography, influential people, events in history, economics, and government. Students study primary source documents, visit local and national historic landmarks and conduct research to evolve a better understanding of how the past affects the present. Students bring characters in history alive through wax museums and theme-centered days, they create exhibits and replicas of artifacts, and they apply economic concepts learned in class by operating a student-run market during the Christmas season. Other activities they participate in include: Ancient Greece and Rome Day in third grade, “Our Town”- a community helper-based experience in first grade, and a trip to the local courthouse and visit with a judge to observe the court system in action in fifth grade.
Saint James’ Episcopal Church and School are proud to call Chapultepec, a 600 acre farm on the nearby Rappahannock River, home, through a generous donation of a parishioner. Students visit the property regularly, where their learning is enriched, both academically and socially-emotionally. With the guidance of one of the top international birders with the Audobon Society, students have taken the opportunity to search for and identify native birds, and discover more about their habitats and migration patterns. Local conservationists from John Marshall Soil and Water District work with students to study the river water quality, inspect and search for native plants, and apply academic concepts from all content areas learned in the classroom. Students are also given time to reflect on the abundance of gifts bestowed to us through the farm and maintain nature journals to document their days’ explorations as well as internal thoughts they are pondering.