Berkeley Carroll Upper School, a private high school in Brooklyn, New York, offers a dynamic, academically challenging, college preparatory program that provides students with an education designed to meet and surpass the demands of the 21st century.
Upper School classes are taught in a discussion-based seminar format to foster critical thinking and intellectual discussion, while also ensuring students' mastery of core academic knowledge and skills. Many courses forge thematic, interdisciplinary connections. At the same time, the program is structured to allow students to pursue their academic interests in depth.
By not defining the highest level of learning by an Advanced Placement program, we succeed in offering a rigorous, high school curriculum that allows all students to pursue their disciplinary interests as far as their interest and skill level allow them to go. Our students distinguish themselves through unique programs like Science Research and Design, Senior Scholars, and through their work in a wide variety of elective offerings from 10th-12th grade. Our specialized and challenging curriculum provides students with breadth, depth, flexibility and a combination of choice and common grade experiences.
Berkeley Carroll students are distinguished not only by their commitment to excellence in academics, but also by their eagerness to explore new interests and expand their talents in the arts, athletics and the local and global community. Students choose from well over 100 course offerings, more than forty athletic teams, and myriad additional opportunities in clubs and other co-curricular activities. Our academic programs extend beyond the school walls to places like France, Spain, Italy, Tanzania, India, and the southern United States.
The Upper School English Department at Berkeley Carroll aspires to raise students into confident and curious citizens whose reading, writing, and speaking skills will, in the words of our mission statement, prepare them "for success in college and for the greater endeavor -- a life of critical, ethical, and global thinking.
Over their four years, students read a wide array of novels, plays, essays, stories, and poems with the goal that they will develop their own tastes, a lifelong love of reading, and deeper insights into the human experience.
Ninth graders gain core reading and writing skills while studying coming-of-age literature and the Hero's Journey, and eleventh graders explore American history, culture, literature, and politics in our interdisciplinary American Studies course co-taught with the History department. Tenth and twelfth graders, meanwhile, choose from a variety of semester electives designed with particular student interests in mind. All four years prize depth over breadth and cultivate students' increasing powers of abstraction and analysis.
Berkeley Carroll’s history program embodies the content, methods and values of several disciplines including history, social studies, geography, and philosophy. We believe that this diversity is key to the strength of our department. Our rich program helps students develop empathy and understanding, as we strive to have them grasp the factual grounding that will allow them to become critical and analytical thinkers. We encourage our students to shun simple answers, to understand that people create histories, and that interpretations can change over time.
The idea that knowledge of the past provides a lens to understand the present and to view the future aligns with our goal of teaching students to think like historians. Guiding questions, focusing on such essential themes such as immigration, war and peace, human rights and religious tolerance, shape our units of study.
The Upper School history department offers a foundational course in world history in 9th grade, followed by a variety of semester-long 10th grade electives that focus on cross-cultural and global understanding. An American Studies course, co-taught with the English department, in 11th grade, is followed by a variety of semester-long 12th grade electives that focus on specific questions, problems, and themes in American history. Our most ambitious 12th grade historians take on a Senior Scholars research project.
Berkeley Carroll views the exposure to other cultures, and the learning of languages in addition to English, as central to its mission of aiding students in becoming global thinkers. In the Upper School, students may take Spanish, French, or Latin, or some combination. About a quarter of our students choose to study two languages. Upper School students may also learn Mandarin through a small, individualized program, or Arabic through an online program offered by Johns Hopkins Center for Talented Youth.
Academic travel opportunities to study at the CELEI Institute in Granada, Spain and the Centre Mediterranéen d’Etudes Françaises in Cap d’Ail, France provide our advanced students with a fitting capstone to their language study at Berkeley Carroll. These experiences foster a deep respect for and interest in foreign and ancient cultures, and help to produce a climate of open-mindedness about global learning.
From 9th grade on, students are grouped according to proficiency, which means that many language classes have students from multiple grades and that students may progress as far as their interest and language mastery allow them to go. Upper level electives not only assume conversational fluency, but also allow students to choose topics and content that are of particular interest to them.
The Upper School mathematics program at Berkeley Carroll strives to develop life-long problem-solvers who approach math problems, unfamiliar and familiar, with confidence and perseverance. Students ask why and are pushed to discover mathematical concepts, with help from their teachers, through deductive proofs and experiments. Critical and analytic thinking demands a solid foundation of logic and reasoning, which students practice by regularly explaining and justifying their conclusions.
From geometry through calculus, our math classes have on-level and advanced options, and students’ placement is evaluated each year. Our most advanced students complete calculus by the end of junior year, most complete calculus by the end of senior year, and it is possible for junior or seniors to take two math classes if they wish.
The members of the Upper School math team participate in wide variety of competitions each year, allowing our most interested and committed math students the opportunity for city, state, or national recognition.
In the Upper School, science students are challenged to think critically about complex problems. They learn to approach both quantitative and qualitative questions systematically, to problem solve effectively, and to make connections beyond the classroom.
Our program provides students with opportunities to gain content knowledge and skills in several areas of science as well as to pursue advanced studies in particular areas of interest. After taking biology in 9th grade and chemistry in 10th, juniors and seniors have considerable choice, whether that means pursuing advanced courses in biology, chemistry or physics, or content-specific electives in courses such as engineering and Anatomy and Physiology.
Especially motivated students can take an introductory engineering and design course at the NYU Tandon School of Engineering or the interdisciplinary Physical Applications of Calculus in 12th grade. Finally, the three-year long Science Research and Design program enables ambitious students to understand science as a dynamic, changing field rather than as a static body of knowledge. The sequence culminates in an original research project that includes a presentation and a scientific journal article.
The computer science program aims to educate students on being responsible and informed digital citizens. Our one-to-one iPad program enables students to see technology as an academic tool. Our required ninth and tenth courses emphasize this basic philosophy and introduce all students to programming fundamentals. Elective upper level courses allow students to pursue programming in increasingly complex and specialized areas such as interactive game design, app development and operating system design.
While the Upper School has a two year visual or performing art requirement, the fact that the majority of our students take art for four years emphasizes the centrality of the arts to the BC culture. Whether pursuing photography for four years, singing in the choir and pursuing ceramics, playing in the jazz band and performing in the dance program, our course offerings allow students to express themselves creatively and become increasingly skilled in their chosen discipline(s).
The BC arts program strives to provide beginners with the basic instruction required to become proficient and take joy in the art form, and also provide more accomplished students with the critical feedback that will allow them to develop their individual style, as well as a portfolio of work.
Physical Education is an integral part of the Berkeley Carroll curriculum and is structured to promote lifetime fitness through participation in individual and team sports.
There are four major curricular objectives: conceptual knowledge of movement and sports skills, development of life-long physical fitness, socialization, and enjoyment. The curriculum incorporates activities that are creative, maximize learning, and are developmentally appropriate.
Fitness activities (aerobic, anaerobic, and calisthenic exercises) and weight training are a regular part of Upper School programs.