As writing is the core feature of English, analysis is the focus of our mathematics curriculum. While computational proficiency and algebraic manipulation are important aspects of our college preparatory program, the math department’s primary focus is on the thought process. Instructors encourage and expect conjecture, experimentation, discussion, extension and writing in the study of mathematics. Problem-solving (that is, answering questions for which the method of solution is not immediately obvious) is an integral part of the program. Throughout the curriculum, students use graphing calculators and computers as tools for investigation and exploration; the necessary educational support in using these tools is ongoing. An important facet of the math curriculum is that all students are placed at their appropriate level regardless of grade.
Our mathematics teachers strive to balance three goals in their teaching: developing fundamental skills through the rigor of daily exercises and practice; studying math applications in the real world; and investigating the creative and intellectually challenging realm of pure mathematics. This varied approach builds confidence and opens doors for all students to test their limits and to discover their potential in mathematics.
Upper School students typically begin their mathematics study with Algebra I or Geometry and then move on to Algebra II in tenth grade. Subsequent courses include Pre-Calculus, Statistics, Trigonometry and Calculus. Algebra II is offered in two forms: students who expect to take Pre-Calculus take the Algebra II/Trigonometry course, while others take Algebra II. Students who discover that they are ready for more rigorous study of math during their Algebra II year are prepared for Pre-calculus by enrollment in Financial Math and Trigonometry. Advanced students take AP Calculus and AP Statistics. The Financial Math and Trigonometry and a non-AP Statistics course are offered in alternate years to ensure that all students can take four years of mathematics.
Students seeking course work beyond the Upper School offerings may take more advanced-level mathematics at either Piedmont Virginia Community College or the University of Virginia. In addition, independent study and electives are offered based on student interest.