Upper School (Target Opening in 2018)
The St. Francis Upper School learning environment will promote balance and self-awareness while growing students who are faithful, upstanding citizens and people for others. Programs will be intentionally structured to connect the academic, social, and spiritual experiences of each student. Through interdisciplinary learning and design thinking, ninth graders will shape their learning and leadership experiences in preparation for further study in grades 10–12. By graduation, a St. Francis education will foster an intense intellectual curiosity, a deep affinity for others, and a desire to gain an understanding beyond the student’s own lived experience.
- Spiritual Education
- Health and Wellness
- Experiential Travel
- Hands–On Entrepreneurship
- Innovations in Learning
We embrace worship and faith as an integral part of our school life. Through chapel, Eucharist, service learning, and an array of religious course offerings, St. Francis Upper School continues the tradition of nurturing people for others. We also encourage and support student-driven, extracurricular religious involvement that merges students’ spiritual life with their academic and social reality.
Our health and wellness curriculum is a bridge across divisions that promotes education around self-care and self-awareness. Students must be prepared for an increasingly demanding world in which individuals often sacrifice personal well-being for their goals. Age-appropriate information and tools will help students make wise choices about gaining and maintaining healthy lifestyles. Integrated into formal health courses, advisory, and religious education, this four-year program (designed around National Health Education Standards) will cultivate a link between mind, heart, body, and spirit.
As founding members of our Upper School, students will lead in all facets of campus life. They will help create and direct student government and student life activities, including all clubs, sports, and fine arts organizations. Through the course of their academic and extracurricular experiences, students will forge relationships with civic leaders, business professionals, philanthropic patrons, and peers across the globe. As people for others, Upper School students will create service learning courses and seek mentors both within St. Francis and the larger Houston community.
Students will have the chance to study and serve locally, statewide, nationally, and internationally. Freshman year travel opportunities will center on the Houston community, while sophomores will engage in programs at the state level. Students’ junior and senior years will provide flexibility for national and international adventures. As part of St. Francis’s commitment to civic and local engagement, every graduate will benefit from these programs.
St. Francis students will grow through practical work experience opportunities. Thanks to relationships with community partners, alumni, and interested parents, Upper School students will thrive via internships, Shadow Days, and Career Days. Because of our emphasis on the value of real-world experience, these opportunities will take place during the school year with the possibility of additional summer programs.
At St. Francis, entrepreneurship courses will introduce our students to the process of creating and launching business models under the guidance of mentors. Students will work in teams to solve real-world business challenges. Regardless of a student’s future career path, the skills used to create and launch a business comprise valuable life lessons.
These seminars will support an interdisciplinary, collaborative teaching and learning culture that becomes the incubator for new solutions. Beginning in their freshman year, students will learn about brain theory, learning styles, and pedagogical models to better understand how humans think and learn—setting a foundation for understanding how knowledge is conveyed and received. Through this experience, students will become advocates in their own educational process.
A focus on writing, analytical reasoning, and innovative problem-solving will provide our Upper School students with age-appropriate instruction through a large selection of advanced and honors courses. In keeping with our commitment to depth over breadth, students will develop their passion, focus, and talent through a challenging and collaborative curriculum.
Additionally, thematic connections will be made through collaboration across curriculum. Students learn best when they see the connections between what they are learning in school and other aspects of their lives; the curriculum will make explicit connections between academic disciplines and all other aspects of school life. To that end, we will establish thematic topics to be used as touchstones for curriculum. A spectrum of thematic units will balance instruction from the Humanities and the Sciences, often using Houston as our classroom.
"Today’s learner is a student who can find, use, and apply data in real-life scenarios and challenges. While we value what a student knows, we place a priority on what they can achieve with that knowledge."
Anne Longley, PhD
Founding Head of Upper School
- What does the student–to–teacher ratio look like?
- Is St. Francis's Upper School program accredited?
- Who is the Upper School division head?
- What is the process for hiring the Upper School faculty?
- How will grade levels be added to the Upper School?
- Will Upper School students attend chapel and receive religious instruction?
Founding Head of Upper School Anne Longley, PhD, joined St. Francis in the fall of 2016. Dr. Longley comes to St. Francis from Nightingale-Bamford School in New York, where she was head of Upper School from 2012–16. Previously, she served as grade dean, faculty representative, and director of senior projects, among other teaching and residential life responsibilities, at Hackley School, also in New York. In addition to her administrative roles, Dr. Longley spent time studying and teaching in France and has taught the French language at the middle and high school level, as well as in higher education settings. She holds degrees from Converse College, the University of Georgia, and Washington University in St. Louis.
Our faculty search process relies on national search firms, educational conferences, and long-term relationships built throughout the city and nation in order to employ the best secondary educators for our students. As with our Primary, Lower, and Middle Schools, St. Francis seeks to hire experienced, mid-career teaching professionals.
Doors to our first ninth-grade class are slated to open in fall 2018. We will add an additional grade each subsequent school year. Tenth grade will be added in fall 2019, eleventh grade in fall 2020, and twelfth grade in fall 2021. We anticipate a class size of 45–67 students for our inaugural ninth-grade class, as well as for the subsequent opening tenth-, eleventh-, and twelfth-grade classes. For the first few years, we will intentionally keep our class sizes small.