Seminar Program


The Saint Mary’s School seminar program integrates what we know girls need, with what we know of the changing world girls will be facing, to provide relevant, forward-looking, real-world opportunities as we prepare girls for college and life.

As part of the school's comprehensive and innovative curriculum, seminar classes are designed to help girls develop key competencies through relevant, experiential learning experiences with experts, resources, and organizations in the greater Raleigh area.

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, health and wellness, innovation, and social impact. 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.

SMS is a community dedicated to academic excellence, personal achievement, and preparing young women for college and life. The "and life" piece is really the goal of Saint Mary's Seminar Program. It is a class like any other and a product of a lot of different, disparate programs that are not unlike those at other schools who may have days focusing on social emotional intelligence or hands-on field trips. Saint Mary's had many of those programs previously, but with our location and proximity to numerous potential community partners (business, organizations, nonprofits, universities, etc.), Saint Mary's saw the opportunity to create a fully fleshed-out program with topics now given equal weight and a schedule that allows students to focus on these areas within class time.

The spirit of Seminar is to equip our Saints to skillfully grow as participants and designers of learning in their paths forward. During the 9th, 10th, and 11th-grade years, there are four quarters of Seminar. One quarter they spend at each grade level they spend on one of four tracks of:

  • Communication
  • Health and Wellness
  • Innovation
  • Social Impact

For Senior Seminar, the first semester again is geared toward just in time learning and focuses on College Counseling, updating their LinkedIn profile, resume, and their portfolio for life. They also start to consider what their second semester capstone project or internship might look like.

During the second semester, this is the time they capitalize on everything they've learned over the previous three years of seminar to create their own, self-actualized plan for something they want to research or do in the world. The student designs an essential question and either have a Capstone Project to explore that essential question or complete an internship to learn more about what it is they are wondering. At the end of the year, they participate in a "Defense" of their project for a panel of Saint Mary's community adults and their peers. This also inspires younger students as they move toward their senior years.

Saint Mary's School's Seminar Program content is:

  • Relevant
  • Active and Engaged
  • Experiential
  • Community-oriented
  • Designed with Empathy

And, embedded throughout Seminar are additional topics of:

  • College Counseling
  • Financial Literacy
  • Leadership
  • Public Speaking

Seminar classes are credited and required for graduation.

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