Academic Pillars

A Unique Learning Experience

What do today’s students need most from their high school experience to prepare them for college, careers, and civic life? Are we teaching enduring learning, inspiring deeper thinking, helping students excel in the habits of an intellectual life? The academic pillars at Emma Willard School are designed to consider these very important questions.

With awareness that the world is changing and learners are changing with it, the Emma Willard School program equips our students to meet the extraordinary opportunities and challenges of their time. Our academic program is focused on what matters most in learning—relevance, enduring understanding, and multidisciplinary connection. In order to educate a generation of learners ready and able to meet the most pressing issues of our time, we commit ourselves to the following academic pillars.
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Intellectual Flexibility

Emma Willard School strives to educate a generation of learners ready and able to address the most pressing issues of their time. During their time at Emma, students develop the intellectual flexibility to consider big questions and to work to solve big problems.

Purpose & Community

Fundamental to personal wellbeing is the life-long exploration of one’s self and one’s contribution to the world. The Emma Willard School curriculum fosters a sense of purpose in each student by emphasizing relevance, impact and community connection.

Equity & Justice

Living and learning in a global and inclusive community requires persistent and purposeful practice. Our curriculum provides exposure to and understanding of the global community, and focuses on developing the skills necessary to build and sustain equity and justice in the world.
Using the program pillars as a guide, Emma Willard School faculty develop advanced course offerings that challenge students to think deeply and fuel students’ love of learning. These Advanced Studies courses are a part of a plan to phase out and replace AP™ course offerings with unique curriculum developed specifically for Emma students. In addition, the school has developed a Ninth Grade Program that is designed to meet the unique needs of ninth graders as they transition to high school. 

Academic Headlines

List of 3 news stories.

  • Leah Friedman '02 in her official JEOPARDY!™ photo

    The Pursuit of Trivia

    Melissia Mason
    When Leah Friedman ’02 announced that she was going to be on JEOPARDY!™ in February 2021, she joined a distinctive group of Emma Willard School alums who have put their trivia knowledge to the test. The first Emma alumna to appear on the famous game show was Jane Erskine ’75 back in 1986. Since then, Liz Reardon ’73, Ann Doyle Thurlow ’74, Amelia Hershberger ’01, and now Leah have experienced the adrenaline rush of appearing on “America’s Favorite Quiz Show.”™
  • A faculty meeting in Spring 2020.

    Learning in Process: Sharpening the Saw & Critical Friends

    Kaitlin Resler
    During the 2020-2021 academic year, Emma Willard School faculty have been invited to participate in sessions designed to strengthen their teaching practices. These colleague-to-colleague events, “Sharpening the Saw” and “Critical Friends,” provide a space for faculty to share and learn from a greater collective of institutional knowledge. 
  • Robert Naeher with student Lia R. '21

    "Close Looking" Expands Critical Thinking

    Melissia Mason
    During Fall Family Weekend 2019, Matthew Richter P’21 was impressed by History Instructor Robert Naeher’s teaching style and its implications for his own work as a consultant. The lessons he learned inspired him to write an article entitled "Seven Steps for Making Critical Thinking Easier." In the article Mr. Richter draws on the "close looking" exercises Bob used in class to explain how one can become more adept at critical thinking.
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285 Pawling Avenue, Troy, NY 12180 | P: 518.833.1300 F: 518.833.1815
Welcome to Emma Willard School, a private day and boarding high school for girls in Troy, NY, and a leader in girls' education for over 200 years.