All boys. All boarding. Grades 9-12.

Curriculum Guide

A Woodberry education is grounded in the idea that intellectual thoroughness and moral integrity are the best college prep a boy can receive. Our graduation requirements are designed to ground and challenge boys in the core academic subjects while giving them room to explore new interests and pursue a wide range of electives.

Woodberry's academic program is carefully designed to prepare boys for their future. Courses in each department begin by helping students master the basics of a subject before moving on to a more critical, in-depth examination of each field.

The Daily Schedule
The daily schedule is designed with boys in mind: each class meets four times per week to ensure teachers have multiple touch points throughout the week to reinforce new material. All classes meet on Mondays for 45 minutes, and then meet again three times between Tuesday and Saturday for 55 minutes. Built into our week are seven, 30 minute consultation periods, which allow boys to meet with teachers to review material, work together on group projects, or take some time to relax and refresh between classes at our prep school. 

Our day starts at 8:30 a.m., allowing boys time in the morning to sleep in, work out, finish up homework, and get a good breakfast before heading to class. On Mondays, Wednesdays, and Thursdays classes end around 3:30 p.m., and on Tuesdays and Fridays, we conclude at 1:00 p.m. Saturday classes run from 8:30 a.m. - 11:30 a.m.

Woodberry’s schedule is focused on creating predictable routines for boys so they can thrive in a schedule of their own making. Our weeks generally look the same Monday through Thursday, with only Friday and Saturday classes flipping from week to week. This predictability allows boys to anticipate heavy work nights, work ahead when they travel for an athletic contest, and take ownership over their own routine. 


Department Overviews

List of 7 items.

  • English

    The work of the Woodberry Forest English Department is driven by the shared vision of an alumnus who has spent four years in our classrooms: He finds joy in a moving poem, a well-built story, and an elegant argument. He thinks about life’s big questions with an open but discerning mind, moving freely between sound logic and creative imagination.  He is a master of the well-supported claim and also comfortable with nuance, ambiguity, and paradox. He is “a person on whom nothing is lost,” and his thinking is grounded in empathy and moral sensibility. He writes with clarity and force and converses with curiosity and humility. He is a good citizen, a valued friend, and a delightful dinner partner. He speaks such that people listen, and he listens such that people speak.

    Our reach may exceed our grasp, but we believe wholeheartedly in the reach.

    In all our work, we teach and practice the core skills of reading, writing, and thinking, which are intricately connected. We read and study challenging texts, which demonstrate beautiful, powerful writing while eliciting complex intellectual and emotional responses and layered conversations about the human condition.  Inspired by the writers we read, we write in a variety of modes and voices. We practice logical evidence-based thinking which is grounded in reverence for good thinking, truth, and other points of view.  As we do all this work, we practice the sustaining habits of open listening, articulate speech, sustained attention, and the courage to read hard texts, think uncomfortable thoughts, and wrestle fuzzy ideas into clear language. All this work is begun in the ninth grade and then practiced, deepened, and expanded over the next three years as students build facility and sophistication. 

    Sharable link of the English curriculum 2023-2024
  • Extradepartmental Electives

    Woodberry offers several elective classes that fall outside the established academic departments. Though each of these courses is unique, all generally offer students the opportunity to dig deeper into a unique subject or topic. 

    View all Extradepartmental Electives
  • Fine Arts Program

    Woodberry Forest’s Fine Arts Program consists of three departments: drama and speech, music, and visual arts. These departments are bound by the common goal of teaching students how to find and develop their public voice, how to think critically and creatively, how to make art of the highest order possible, and how to appreciate their world more deeply.
  • Foreign Language

    The foreign language department seeks not only to develop in students the ability to communicate in other languages, but to convey a fuller understanding and appreciation of other cultures as well. Demonstrating a broader knowledge of language and culture will prove invaluable for those who look to take positions of leadership in the current social, political, and economic climate. Woodberry offers instruction in Mandarin Chinese, French, Latin, and Spanish. Courses in modern foreign languages stress oral and written communication while exploring the cultural heritage of the countries where those languages are spoken. Courses in Latin acquaint students with Greek and Roman customs, laws, morals, and religion as they help build vocabulary and translation skills. In addition to classroom offerings, summer study and language immersion programs in Spain, Nicaragua, and China are offered. Students must successfully complete the third level of one language to fulfill the school’s graduation requirement. They are initially placed in foreign language class based on their results on a proficiency exam that they must complete, without any help, in the summer before their arrival at Woodberry.

    View all Foreign Language courses 
  • History

    The disciplined study of history encourages students to pose questions, examine evidence, and reach conclusions about the development of humankind. At Woodberry Forest students discover the historical method of gathering and interpreting factual information from primary and secondary sources in order to gain a better understanding of the past. The History Department stresses reading, writing, note-taking, and outlining to help students develop vital communication and critical thinking skills.

    Woodberry Forest requires three history courses: Stories and Histories for third formers, US history for fourth formers, and one of several transnational electives for fifth formers. Sixth formers may choose from the fifth form electives or two courses open only to seniors.

    View all History courses
  • Mathematics

    The Woodberry Forest mathematics program encourages students to draw conclusions using both contemporary and traditional approaches and to justify and prove conjectures through examples, counterexamples or formal proofs. The courses offered include traditional college preparatory offerings for secondary school: Geometry, Algebra 1, Algebra 2, Precalculus, Calculus, Statistics, and a Seminar in Advanced Mathematics. Independent study opportunities are also available for the most advanced students. Honors classes are available in courses beyond Algebra 1, and students are placed in these courses based on their aptitude and performance in mathematics. Initial placement is made based on prior studies of mathematics, teacher recommendations, and proficiency demonstrated on standardized tests and an online assessment. A Foundational course is available as a bridge for incoming students to ensure readiness for Algebra. Students are required to successfully complete one course beyond the level of Geometry and Algebra 2 OR one course in each year enrolled (culminating with Algebra 2) in order to satisfy the school’s graduation requirement. Promotion to the next level of study in a sequential course requires a final grade of C- or better. Unless otherwise specified, all courses are year-long.

    View all Mathematics courses
  • Science

    Woodberry Forest is a physics-first school, introducing its students to the science curriculum through a laboratory-intensive, conceptually-underpinned physics course for third formers. For students entering Woodberry in the third form year, the sequence of courses is physics in the third form, chemistry in the fourth form, and biology in the fifth form. Those who enter in the 4th form take chemistry, then biology 5th form year if they haven’t already taken a high school laboratory-based biology course.

    The science department believes not just in learning about science, but also in doing science. Every course, at every level, spends at least a quarter of the class time, and usually much more than that, doing hands-on laboratory activities. Students leave the general-level courses with an understanding of evidence-based scientific reasoning, as well as an understanding of how experimental evidence is gathered in each scientific discipline. Advanced coursework is available in all areas.

    View all Science courses 
Woodberry Forest admits students of any race, color, sexual orientation, disability, religious belief, and national or ethnic origin to all of the rights, privileges, programs, and activities generally accorded or made available to students at the school. It does not discriminate on the basis of race, color, sexual orientation, disability, religious belief, or national or ethnic origin in the administration of its educational policies, admissions policies, scholarship and loan programs, and athletic or other school-administered programs. The school is authorized under federal law to enroll nonimmigrant students.