Our Program

From the beginning, Parkmont has been driven to help kids have an engaging, confidence-building time in school. Since 1972, the range of students touched by our program has constantly expanded, but how we help them has remained the same.

Our Program is…

Academic Structure

Parkmont students learn in multi-grade, mixed-ability classes of 8-10 students where teachers get to know their interests and abilities. Our small classes allow teachers to differentiate in every class, meeting students where they are and helping them progress with confidence. By constantly calibrating the level of challenge and support, teachers give students a job at which they can succeed.

Our program’s unique structure divides the academic year into five seven-week sessions. Students focus on just three academic classes per session – Math, English, and a two-hour, deep-dive Main Lesson. This streamlined structure minimizes daily transitions, allows teachers enough instruction time for individualized attention, and gives students a fresh start every seven weeks.

More class time means that teachers design lessons that are hands-on and project-based. They take place out in the world and integrate subjects across the curriculum. Our curriculum includes a wide range of topics that meet the credits required for a DC diploma while engaging the imaginations and interests of our students. The classes cover literature, science, history, geography, foreign language, religion, and art, among other subjects.

Upper School students have “Reading Group” three times a week, and Middle School students have English daily. Reading Group classes are also multi-disciplinary and include English, Social Studies, and sometimes even Science. The emphasis is on reading and writing.

In addition to Main Lesson and Reading Group, students take Math daily. Math at Parkmont is dynamic and challenging but also calibrated to the individual. Students can change math classes as needed, and there is always support as well as challenge.

Three times per week students take an “Afternoon Class” elective, where they get to explore arts, physical education, theater, creative computer skills, cooking, and more.

Parkmont’s size and set-up allow us to provide a safe, structured, stimulating environment for students that doesn’t have a lot to do with the categories or boxes that got checked off by a diagnostician.

Middle School is a time of profound academic, emotional, social, and physical change for all students. The key to the success of the Parkmont Middle School program is the close collaboration among families, students, and teachers. Faculty members shepherd students through these years, focusing on the development of the emerging adolescent, and supporting each student with individualized guidance and personal attention. Students who need additional help in specific academic or emotional areas will find a well-developed and successful support system in place for them.

View the middle school schedule

The Upper School curriculum is innovative and hands-on; it encourages kids to engage with the world they’re living in. We help them envision how they will fit into and contribute to that world after graduation. We help them build self-confidence and skills; we cultivate aspirations as students begin to direct their own lives. 

Advisory groups keep students connected to an advisor who regularly guides conversations about the future. Students meet three times per week with their advisors to discuss academic and personal progress, current events, and whatever else they find stimulating! Advisors track progress, communicate with families, and encourage students to think creatively and energetically about “what’s next?”.

Seniors write an extensive “Petition” as a requirement for graduation in the spring of their senior year. The petition is an autobiographical essay covering personal and educational challenges and successes, as well as future plans and goals. Where have I been? Where am I now? Where am I headed? The writing process is guided by a committee of three staff members selected by the student.

Upper School students also achieve 180 hours at their Internship each year.

View the upper school schedule

Relationships

A lot of people contribute to making Parkmont a welcoming place to come to school every day. Our friendly front office staff handles first-aid, forgotten lunches, and birthday recognitions in addition to transcripts; classroom teachers don’t let anyone fall through the cracks and tailor support and extra help to the needs of each student; Advisors get to know the fascinations and curiosities of their advisees — sometimes even before the students know them. They also guide the all-important penning of the Senior Petition, a reflective essay examining how one’s past has brought them to where they are now, and how that positions them for where they are headed next. Each graduating senior writes a petition as a testament to their readiness to move forward on their path.

Relationships are the glue that holds the Parkmont community together, and before long, a student has acquired a team that champions their progress. Your math teacher may lead the overnight camping in the Shenandoahs. Or your academic advisor could be the person who bikes the Crescent Trail with you on an adventure trip. The bonds that are forged in Saturday School or the Parkmont van or a whitewater raft are what our alumni are still talking about when they drop by years later to visit.

Plan on a number of people getting to know you well here as you set about getting to know yourself.

Supporting Our Students

Student Advising

Every Parkmont student has an Advisor. The Advisor is often the person who knows a student best, and this alliance is at the center of the many conversations and relationships that fill every school day. Advisors meet students formally three times per week for half an hour, and informally almost daily, to offer guidance in academic, social, and emotional arenas – or sometimes just to listen. Because the Advisor/student relationship spans years, there is an increased chance that these conversations will lead to profound support, encouragement, and growth. Advisors also regularly consult with parents, teachers, psychologists, and social workers throughout the student’s time at Parkmont. Together, Advisors, students, teachers, and caretakers work as allies to develop and implement strategies to help students stay on track and prepare for what’s next.

Support Services

Because many of our students arrive with a lack of confidence in what they can do or with deficits in their skill sets, we make one-on-one and/or group tutoring available, as well as supervised study halls, remedial language and grammar instruction, study skills classes, after-school and summer school programming, Saturday school, diagnostic testing, and/or social work therapy. These support services are helpful to all students, but especially to those who have been struggling with executive functioning, attention, anxiety, or attendance challenges. As we discover what helps students succeed, they also discover how they learn best and become better advocates for themselves.

College Counseling

The path of each Parkmont graduate is as different as the students themselves. Parkmont’s School Administrator and the student’s Advisor work with seniors and their families to provide the support needed to help each student achieve their post-high school plans. Most of them pursue college directly after graduation. For students who need more individual help coming up with college lists and getting through the application process, we work to connect families to area college counseling groups or after-school college prep programs. In addition to college placement, we can also help students prepare for the transition to part-time college, and for gap years that involve work, internship, non-academic programs, or travel.

Over the last two decades, our students have been accepted to the following colleges:

Parkmont Classrooms

Trips

The world is our classroom.

Whether it’s a field trip to the Supreme Court, a zipline adventure at a woodland retreat, or a travel class visiting Alaskan glaciers or Yucatecan ruins, if we go there with our students, it’s a Parkmont Classroom. We are constantly expanding our classrooms and the opportunities for study, work, and adventure on our campus, throughout our city and the Mid-Atlantic region, and further afield. Many students find fresh motivation, renewed self-esteem, and social confidence when they’re miles from home for the first time on a Parkmont-sponsored trip. By offering instruction in a variety of environments, we invite students to learn by self-realization and “real world” problem-solving – life skills that are interwoven into our program.

Internships

Real-world learning complements classroom learning.

Internships at Parkmont are a mainstay of our curriculum. They’re dynamic, enriching learning opportunities that invite students to envision a place for themselves in the world of work. Local businesses and non-profits partner with us to host, supervise, and mentor our students. We believe that these collaborations awaken students to the possibilities ahead by exposing them to adult decision-making, mature priorities, and career advice.

Upper-school students spend 180 hours per year on-site at their Internships. They learn about work by going to work, interviewing their supervisors, and contributing to the daily operation of the business. Advisors and the internship team work closely with students to find an optimal placement. Students navigate public transportation to get there on time. They reflect on the challenges and take-aways of the work in written journal entries and prepare a digital presentation to share their Internship with the school. Middle-schoolers get introduced to the Internship experience in the spring for two hours a week, sometimes in small groups. They travel with their Advisors to and from the placements.

Outcomes

While every student’s path is different, the vast majority of Parkmont students go on to higher learning after graduation. When it’s time to make this incredible decision, students work closely with their Advisor and the Dean of Students to design a plan for school visits, applications, and follow-ups. In addition to college placement, we can also help students prepare for transitions to part-time college study, and for gap years that involve work and travel. With only a handful of graduating students each year, we can ensure each graduate gets personal assistance as they narrow down their options.

Over the last fifteen years, our alumni have attended the following colleges: