Curriculum Instruction Program
Before opening the school in September 2000, the Founding Board of Directors of the Sussex Academy selected a New American Schools design for comprehensive educational reform as part of its charter school initiative. Founded by business leaders interested in "break-the-mold" models to improve schools, the New American Schools is a nonpartisan, nonprofit leader in the growing comprehensive school reform movement. New American Schools is dedicated to assisting and supporting innovative, successful schools by implementing research-based, comprehensive school designs. Expeditionary Learning (EL) was adopted as the instructional framework and Sussex Academy maintained a contractual relationship with EL for many years after opening.
When the school chose to expand to include high school grades, the Board of Directors chose the International Baccalaureate (IB) Program as the high school's curriculum model and decided that all high school students would participate in the IB courses in grades 11 and 12. In the Spring of 2015, Sussex Academy was authorized as an International Baccalaureate World School and began offering IB courses to its first junior class in Fall 2015. Sussex Academy considers the instructional program for grades 6 through 10 as preparing students for the IB Diploma Program and has established an instructional model of best practices to support this initative.
All students at the Sussex Academy follow an accelerated curriculum that meets or exceeds state standards. Throughout the school year, students and teachers are involved in interdisciplinary learning expeditions to promote self-discovery and construct knowledge. To support these experiences teachers, students, and school leaders build a culture of respect and high expectations. The school schedule is built around large flexible blocks of time. Incoming sixth grade students are placed on a team and remain with the set of teachers for at least two years. All students keep portfolios of their work and assessment is ongoing.
Each teacher of the Sussex Academy possesses unique talents in working with adolescents and has training and expertise in the particular learning styles of middle and high school students. The middle school teams of teachers are responsible for teaching the content standards and skills in reading, writing, mathematics, social studies, and science. The high school teams instruct students in ELA, Spanish, STEM, science, social studies, mathematics, and various content related electives. Other subjects such as physical education, art, music, computer, STEM, and other co-curricular classes are taught outside the core academic areas and are referred to as middle school exploratories or high school electives.
The Sussex Academy provides a unique accelerated learning opportunity for students and their parents. The expectation is that students come to school with a positive attitude to learn and to take part in academic, social, and service activities and that their parents and the school support these endeavors.