Special Studies

Self-directed Study
Self-directed study includes Independent Study, Pathways and Online coursework.  If a student chooses to engage in work related to an academic discipline outside of the formal (directly supervised) classroom or laboratory, she may do so through the opportunities under the self-directed study umbrella.  It is to be noted that this type of learning is challenging and requires a high level of self-motivation and discipline.  It is important to think deeply as to whether this kind of learning is a fit for your learning profile.  Assistance in working through the decision-making process is available through faculty, college counseling or the student’s advisor.

Learning Lab/Flex Period/Tutorial
Saint Mary’s School students have opportunities throughout the week to work with faculty outside of class. All 9th and 10th graders are assigned a learning lab as one of their classes, while 11th and 12 grade students have the option of a flex period or a learning lab. During learning lab students complete work and prepare for assessments in a structured environment with learning coaches. Furthermore, students move through a study skills curriculum designed by Saint Mary’s faculty, which includes topics such as time management, organization, goal setting, memory skills, and test taking strategies. Flex period affords students the opportunity to choose where they study and how they use this time, preparing them for college. For students who still need structure or prefer the structure they can attend a learning lab. Additionally, all students have access to their teachers at the end of the day in tutorial. During tutorial students can schedule an appointment or drop in for help on assignments, test preparation or collaborate with their faculty.

Advisory Program
The Saint Mary’s School advisory program is a personalized, academic advising program designed to guide students as the navigate their high school experience. A student’s advisor is a central connecting point for the student and provides an integrated understanding of the student’s academic and personal growth and development. Each student is part of an advisory consisting of approximately six students. Advisory meets four times a week, including one weekly advisory lunch. Additionally, student’s meet on a one-to-one basis with their advisor.

Quarterly Seminars 
Students’ quarterly seminars meet every other day, within the context of the regular school day. Each seminar is designed to develop the 10 key competencies and includes opportunities for students to partner with resources and organizations in the greater Raleigh area. Students will experience a quarter dedicated to each of the major themes of communication, social impact, health and wellness, and innovation. Each quarterly seminar theme meets girls where they are by providing just in time learning that engages them in content specific topics within these major themes. First semester senior Seminars are provided small group support during the busiest part of the college admission process, while the second semester provides seniors with choices specific to their interests and aspirations, including independent study or internship experiences. Central to the Saint Mary’s experience of preparing girls for life, seminars are credited and required for graduation. 

Portfolio for Life
Each student creates and maintains a digital Portfolio for Life that chronicles her experiences at Saint Mary’s and her development of the 10 key competencies. The portfolio gives girls a tool to reflect on their growth, assess their efforts, and celebrate their successes. Required for all students, students may also individualize their portfolio by incorporating additional sections specific to their unique interests and aspirations. Time is allotted each quarter for students to work alone and/or with their advisors on their portfolios. The end result: each student graduates with a Portfolio for Life that gives her a clear record of her learning and growth as well as a resource to confidently talk about her herself and her accomplishments. She will carry her portfolio with her to college and build on it throughout her adult life. It will be a reminder of where she has been and a way to inspire where she is going.