Upper School


Rachel Moulton
Head of Upper School

The size of the upper school—approximately 400 students and 45 faculty—is small enough to encourage faculty and students to know and respect one another as individuals, yet large enough to provide a community that enjoys great diversity and offers a range of resources. Students begin each day meeting in small advisor groups, a chance to greet the teacher with whom they’ll develop a supportive relationship, before moving on to an academic and co-curricular program that work together to encourage personal growth as well as meaningful interaction with the community at large. So, students feel both supported—and thus able to take appropriate risks in their learning and interests—but also part of something bigger, encouraging a connected approach to the world around them.

The upper school offers 110 courses (year-long and semester) and 214 sections, with levels of study that provide appropriate challenge for each student. Upper school students design their academic programs in the spring and are evaluated individually to ensure their choices will help them to gain the intellectual confidence and skills necessary to pursue their academic passions independently as well as collaboratively. Walk by a classroom and you might find students directing and acting out a scene from Hamlet, engaged in a classroom demonstration with the aid of a Smartboard, debating the merits of an historical interaction, or considering the ways in which Quaker education helps to shape their responses to the world. In every case, you’ll find active minds eagerly engaged in small classes with a shared spirit of inquiry. This is an exciting place to be and to learn.

Students’ work in the classroom is complemented by the rich offerings of the co-curricular program, whose requirements reflect the school’s commitment to educating the whole student. Students may enroll in one of the more than 30 athletic and fitness options offered at levels to reflect students’ experience. Last year, the girls’ Field Hockey team won the state championship, while the football team enjoyed an undefeated season; overall, nine teams advanced to post-season play. The Debate program saw involvement by 10% of the Upper School students, and the Mock Trial team advanced to state level competition as well. Musicians perform for the community as well as in the all-State Orchestra, Band, and Chorus, while a variety of special interest groups provide students with opportunities for leadership and community. Last fall, a One Act Play Festival celebrated scripts written by Moses Brown students in the last 15 years of the playwriting class; students performed eight plays and six short scenes, all the original work of their peers. The list of clubs, periodicals, and activities responds to student interest and reflect the school’s valuation of leadership and creativity. Importantly, all students participate in service to others, both in the annual Community Service Day projects as well as their completion of a graduation requirement of significant contribution to a local endeavor. Many will choose Service options within the co-curricular program as well.

A faculty devoted to Moses Brown students and the practice of Quaker education lies at the center of the MB education. Teachers regularly engage in professional development activities that increase their knowledge of academic areas as well as teaching and learning theory, while reviving their own excitement about themselves as learners. In responding to a community-wide survey as part of this year’s work on the long range strategic plan, students, parents, faculty, staff, and alumni rated the quality of the academic program and instruction as one of MB’s greatest strengths. Graduates and their parents cite strong preparation for life in college and beyond school as positive results of their Moses Brown years, but more, they reflect upon meaningful experiences during their years in the upper school; students prepare for the future, but live vitally in the present as well, with an energy that is palpable throughout the school.

Moses Brown’s mission—“to inspire the inner promise of each student and instill the utmost care for learning, people, and place”—is a timely promise that reflects commitment to the core Quaker values of simplicity, peace, integrity, community, equality, and stewardship. These values are developed in classrooms, on stage, on fields, and in less formal community spaces that buzz with excitement, inquiry, and lively, eager energy reflects the singular spirit of the school. You’ll find also that this is a joyful place, where students and adults greet one another in the halls, applaud the successes of individuals and the community, and celebrate education in all of its forms.