Upper School students come to know themselves as learners as they move through a rich core and electives program into Honors and Advanced Placement options and as they become leaders in the school community. Through four challenging, exciting years and a semester-based schedule, Garrison Forest girls find their voices through an educational experience that will make them life-long learners, lovers of the arts and athletics and leaders in their communities. Students here truly discover their passions with our extensive co-curricular, arts and athletics programs that nurture cooperation, collaboration and creativity.
- PROGRAMMATIC HIGHLIGHTS
- ACADEMIC STRENGTHS
- CURRICULUM GUIDE
- UPPER SCHOOL TEAM
- COLLEGE COUNSELING
- INDEPENDENT SENIOR PROJECT (ISP)
- STUDENT FORUM
- WOMEN IN SCIENCE AND ENGINEERING (WISE) PROGRAM
- ACADEMIC RESOURCE CENTER
- Upper School academic schedule provides class meetings of optimal length for deep learning; additional community time for advisory, class meetings, clubs and extra help
- Comprehensive technology program includes laptops in the hands of every student, one digital lab, wireless data projectors in every classroom and online learning course options.
- Academic Resource Center (ARC) offers support in organization and study skills; academic assistance to students with learning needs
- Extensive interscholastic athletics, co-curricular (clubs), physical education and arts programs give each girl options to find her passion, develop her interests, and express herself
- Interscholastic athletics program includes cross country, field hockey, soccer, tennis, basketball, volleyball, softball, lacrosse, equitation, Polo, squash and indoor track
- Rich arts program includes visual arts courses in drawing, woodworking, painting, photography, sculpture and design; performing arts courses in dance, theater arts, musical theater, chorus and chamber choir, band and music theory.
- Student-led Service League involves all Upper School students in service experiences in Baltimore and beyond
- Two full-time College Counselors teach Decision Making and Transition courses to Eleventh and Twelfth graders, guiding students through college search and application process
- Full-time Upper School Counselor teaches Decision Making to Ninth graders and supports all Upper School students in wellness and social-emotional growth
- Big Sister-Little Sister, Ring Sister, and spirit team competitions for the GFS school colors (Light Blue/Dark Blue) foster supportive relationships between students in different grade levels
- Extensive clubs, Service League, Peer Educator, and student government offerings provide every girl with a variety of leadership opportunities
- Elsie Foster Jenkins’53 Fellowship Program gives students opportunities for independent, international service learning experiences
- GFS Alumnae Association connects students with recent graduates in college and Garrison Forest women in a variety of professions
- 30 faculty members hold advanced degrees
- Academic program offers a range of Advanced Placement courses including: Studio Art, Calculus AB and BC, English Literature, U.S. History, Languages, and Sciences
- Women in Science and Engineering (WISE) program, an innovative, semester-long research and mentoring program at Johns Hopkins University for Juniors and Seniors
- WISE offers students the opportunity to enrich or specialize their program of study with STEM courses
- French, Latin, and Spanish courses through Advanced Placement level; Many Latin students also take French, Spanish or Chinese
- 93% take four years of science, including Advanced Placement courses in biology, chemistry and Environmental Science
- Core and Advanced Placement courses in history along with a rich electives program
- All Freshmen take an innovative, interdisciplinary music, theater and design course
- Rich and varied arts program: drawing, painting, 3-D Studio, jewelry making, theater arts, dance, music. Advanced Placement in studio art
- Decision Making and Transitions courses help students make healthy, well-informed choices in personal lives and college selection process
- Multi-grade advisory program connects each student to a faculty adviser who guides her in the creation of a four-year academic plan, selection of courses, and choice of co-curricular activities
- Expert College Counselors guide Juniors and Seniors in all aspects of college search and application process
Here is the professional team that will support you and your daughter in the Upper School at Garrison Forest. Don’t hesitate to let us know how we can help!
Every student has an academic advisor, who is assigned to her in her first year in the Upper School. Advisory groups include students from several grades, so new students have the support of older ones in addition to the help of their advisor as they settle in, and advisory groups often foster powerful connections between students. At the end of the year, students may choose to stay with their advisor or to switch to a different advisor with whom they have made a connection.
Academic advisors serve as the first line of support to students and parents and as the liaison between the school and home. Advisors conduct parent-teacher conferences in the fall and are the point of contact throughout the year for any questions or concerns parents may have, whether about a schedule, an assignment, a class, or a program. By contacting the advisor with questions and by sharing relevant information with the advisor, parents help us ensure that every girl has an “on-campus specialist” who knows her well and can help her learn to advocate for herself.
Class Advisors work in pairs with a particular class: freshmen, sophomore, junior, or senior. Specialists in this grade level in the Upper School, they guide students in the activities specific to the year and help classes develop class and school spirit.
Upper School teachers work with advisors and parents to ensure each student’s progress in a rigorous academic program and to develop each girl’s sense of herself and her own efficacy. Teachers are experts in both their disciplines and in adolescent development, and the faculty is comprised of both GFS veterans and highly qualified new members of staff.
Parents contact advisors with academic concerns and questions, and advisors follow up with teachers and parents as needed. This process ensures that advisors are always aware of their advisees’ progress and provides teachers with a colleague who is an expert on each student.
Academic Resource Coordinator
The Academic Resource Coordinator, works individually and in small groups in the Academic Resource Center (ARC) with those students who have been identified as needing additional academic support in our program. In the trimesters one and two, she also teaches a study and organizational skills course to a small group of students who need extra help with the transition to Upper School. The ARC coordinator also liaises with advisors and teachers and coordinates academic testing and accommodations. The goal of the ARC and of the Garrison Forest program is to help each student become an effective, independent advocate for her own learning.
The Director of College Counseling and Senior College Counselor work with students and their parents to find the best fit for college for each girl. The college counselors also teach the Eleventh-Grade Decision Making course and the Twelfth-Grade Transitions course.
Ann Marie Strauss
Upper School Counselor
The Upper School Counselor and the Director of Counseling, provides support to Upper School students in a variety of ways. She teaches the Ninth-Grade Decision Making course, which all ninth graders take, and oversees student placement in the advisory program. She is also available to meet with students individually or in small groups as needed. With the Academic Resource Coordinator and the Head of Upper School, she reviews all new student testing and monitors the transition to the Upper School.
Director of Residential Life
The Director of Residential Life, coordinates the residential life program for students who live at Garrison Forest School and the weekend activities program, in which both day and residential students participate. She leads the O-team and residential student orientation and works closely with dorm parents and residential life student leaders to make all residential students feel at home at GFS.
Dean of Students
The Dean of Students oversees all non-academic aspects of student life in the Upper School, including orientation, clubs, Student Forum, student activities, residential life, and discipline. She works with advisors, class advisors, the Director of Residential Life and the School Counselor to ensure each girl’s growth and well-being. She also works closely with the Head of Upper School to develop and monitor the Upper School program.
Dean of Special Programs
The Dean of Special Programs and Director of the James Center oversees the Women in Science and Engineering (WISE) program. She works with Whitty Ransome, the Founding Director of the James Center, on special programming in financial literacy, leadership, and service.
Dean of Academic Development
The Director of Studies works with the Head of Upper School to oversee the academic progress of each girl, supporting academic advisors and leading new faculty in developing and implementing the curriculum.
Head of Upper School
The Head of Upper School oversees the academic program of the Upper School, leading academic advisors as they develop four-year plans and yearly schedules with their advisees and working with the faculty to develop and implement the academic curriculum. Working closely with other members of the Upper School team, she also oversees the student life experience in the Upper School.
Participation in student clubs provides students with an important avenue for exploring an area of interest, developing leadership skills, and furthering connections with others.
All Upper School clubs are student initiated and student run in conjunction with a faculty advisor. All students are encouraged to participate in clubs at some level. As students develop new areas of interest, they may start a new club by submitting a proposal to Forum, the student government. Recent clubs have included:
- Art Club
- Black Awareness Club (B.A.C.)
- Book Club
- Build a Block-Habitat for Humanity
- Callisto, the GFS literary magazine
- Club Jhpiego
- DaVinci Club
- Debate Club
- Fashion Collective
- French Club
- Games Club
- GLOW (Gay, Lesbian or Whatever)
- International Club
- Jewish Student Association(J.S.A.)
- Latin Club
- Math Club
- Model UN
- My Sister’s Circle
- Orienteering Club
- Paw Print (student newspaper)
- Politics Club
- Robotics Club
- Student Diversity Leadership Council (SDLC)
- Service League
- Spanish Club
- Tea Club
At Garrison Forest School we view college counseling holistically—it is the next step in a series of opportunities for students to understand themselves and begin to realize their potential as students, leaders, and citizens of the 21st century.
From the time they enter Garrison Forest, students are challenged intellectually and nurtured emotionally through personal contact with academic advisors, teachers, coaches, and administrators. College counseling at GFS applies that same ethic of growth to the college search process, helping to guide students toward making the best choices for themselves. Although the "formal" college search begins junior year, the process truly begins when a student enters the School.
Ann Marie Strauss
The Independent Senior Project (ISP) has been a Garrison Forest senior tradition since 1969. Students are required to complete a two-week unpaid internship in a professional environment at the end of their senior year. Garrison Forest's ISP program was among the first of its kind for Baltimore independent schools.
Recent ISP sites include Roominate (a Silicon Valley tech start-up), Girls’ Life Magazine, JHPIEGO, Baltimore City Police Department, Special Olympics, Metropolitan Museum of Art, Baltimore Magazine, NASA’s Goddard Space Center, Walt Disney Family Museum, as well as schools, hospitals and non-profit organizations.
Each ISP participant is assigned to an Upper School faculty member who serves as her on-campus mentor to help plan a meaningful ISP.
ISP projects must be approved by a student’s parents or guardian, the school and the off-campus mentor of the student’s project.
Each ISP participant needs an off-campus mentor who will supervise her ISP.
What Makes a Meaningful ISP?
- Be realistic about what can be accomplished in the two-week ISP period.
- Set up an interview with the prospective ISP/mentor site early.
- Choose a realistic living situation.
- In the proposal, be as specific as possible about objectives and anticipated duties.
- Have a BACKUP PLAN.
- The ISP must occur in a work environment under the supervision of an adult other than a parent, guardian, or sibling. No ISP participant may be paid for her ISP work.
- ISP participants must complete all paperwork, adhere to all deadlines, have an approved preliminary and final proposal and complete at least 72-80 hours of work over the two weeks of the ISP period.
ISP requirements include the punctual submission of the ISP Requirements and Agreement and the ISP Proposal.
- Completion of 7-8 eight-hour workdays
- Completion of a daily journal/blog
- Contact with the student’s on-campus ISP mentor
- An oral presentation to the Upper School community at the project’s completion
ISP Evaluation and Assessment
A student’s project is evaluated by the student’s on-campus ISP mentor and the ISP committee. The evaluation and grade is based on a rubric which includes the proposal, contact with the GFS mentor, journal, oral presentation, and the off-campus mentor’s evaluation. A notation of "Superior," “Good,” “Satisfactory,” “Fair,” or “Unsatisfactory” is recorded on the student’s final transcript.
- A student’s ISP privilege may be in jeopardy if one or more of the following circumstances exist:
- A student has a grade below 60 in any course.
- A student does not have a senior year grade point average of 70 at the end of the second trimester.
- The final proposal is not approved by the ISP committee.
- If any of the above occur, the student will forfeit all of her ISP privilege and must attend all of her classes for the entire ISP period.
The Upper School student government, Forum, is made up of the President and Vice-President of the School, the day and boarding presidents of each class, and a Forum representative elected from each class. All students are encouraged to attend Forum meetings, but only the elected leaders may vote on issues. The Dean of Students and Head of the Upper School also attend Forum meetings, which are held regularly.
President and Vice-President of the School
- The President of the School is the chief representative of Upper School students and students in all divisions. The president heads Forum, the student government. The president is expected to cultivate a strong working relationship with administrators and faculty and to have a strong relationship with students, including both boarding and day students.
- As the head of Forum, the President of the School is expected to hold meetings at least once a month, or more often if necessary, and to make sure that Forum members are notified in advance to guarantee active participation from all representatives during the meeting.
- The President of the School also is responsible for managing the business of Forum, including:
- identifying issues of concern to students and developing agenda items for consideration by Forum;
- writing up proposals and or taking other appropriate action regarding ideas of interest to Forum;
- presenting proposals submitted by other groups and students to Forum;
- managing Forum decision making through collecting information, facilitating discussion, and determining consensus or calling for votes;
- presenting proposals supported by Forum to the administration and/or faculty and working as necessary to address administration and faculty questions and concerns;
- delegating responsibility as necessary and appropriate to Forum members;
- coordinating the process for appointing or selecting Forum members and students-at-large to membership in School committees, including the Academic Council;
- reporting back to students about the business of Forum.
- The President of the School represents students to the administration. The President, along with the Vice President, serves on the School Life Committee of the Board of Trustees, which addresses academic and non-academic issues related to the in-school experience of students in all divisions. The committee meets four times a year.
- The President is expected to give speeches at several events throughout the year including Convocation, Parents’ Weekend and Commencement.
- The President, along with the Vice President and the Class Presidents, serves on the Honor Board, which meets to address conduct violations and which makes recommendations to the Head of School for sanctions.
The President of the School, if she is a day student, must reside on campus for at least the first half year.
Day/Boarding Presidents of Each Class
- Work with the class advisors to establish an agenda for weekly class meetings and to lead those meetings.
- Plan events traditionally held by individual classes
- Represent their classmates to the rest of the student body at regular Forum meetings.
- Represent the needs of their peers to the administration and to respond to those needs as appropriate. A class president may need to address issues of student life, policies and procedures, and programming needs, communicating effectively with the administration to effect change in the Garrison Forest community.
- Serve on the Honor Board
- Set the tone for the class and the year ahead.
Secretary of Forum
- Is present at every Forum meeting
- Records those present
- Takes accurate minutes
- Post minutes in UpperSchoolStudents online
- Attend all Forum meetings
- Raise student concerns
- Report to their class on issues of interest to the class
Light Blue and Dark Blue Captains
- Initiate and implements spirit activities for Upper School Light Blue and Dark Blue spirit teams
- Encourage school spirit
- Keep records of merits earned by team members
- Work closely with faculty advisor
Athletic Association President
- Develops agenda for Athletic Association meetings
- Plans various activities throughout the year
- Works closely with the Chair of the Physical Education department
Residential Life Leaders
- Provide daily leadership within the boarding community
- Serve as a liaison between and among boarders, residential life faculty, day students, day faculty, the School's administration and staff
- Assume primary responsibility for creating a strong residential life community, including and involving day students
- Contribute to a sense of community spirit by organizing residence hall activities
- Assist with residence hall management
- Assist with educating students about rules and procedures
- Assist in enforcing rules and procedures
The Women in Science and Engineering (WISE) program is a groundbreaking partnership between Garrison Forest and The Johns Hopkins University. We place talented GFS students in Hopkins labs three times a week for a whole semester. WISE students are carefully matched with a Hopkins mentor (professor or graduate student) for a semester and participate fully in the research focus of a Hopkins lab.
The Academic Resource Center (ARC) is open to all students (free of charge). Students may be referred for ARC help by their advisor or teacher, or may set up appointments or drop by for assistance on their own initiative. The ARC works to optimize the individual learning experience by providing the following supports and programs:
- Coordination of individual accommodations for students with educational testing: The Academic Resource Coordinator analyzes educational testing reports, determines supports appropriate at GFS, and oversees formal accommodation plans for students with documented learning differences.
- Teacher support for differentiated instruction for support and enrichment: Through regular conversations and professional development programs, the ARC offers teachers techniques for differentiating in the classroom according individual learning profiles. The school is committed to helping each student maximize her potential, and the ARC assists classroom teachers working with students who are ready to tackle additional challenge as well as those whose who need greater support.
- An ARC Class which provides individualized study tools and a supportive setting for 9th grade students who have been recommended for additional structures and strategies as they transition to the demands of the Upper School curriculum: This non-credit class provides small group instruction in time management, organization, effective reading and note-taking, writing process, study habits, memory techniques, test and exam preparation, and stress reduction.
- Individual academic support on a scheduled or ad hoc basis for students who are experiencing challenges in meeting their academic goals. Work may include assistance with time management, study skills, organization, reading comprehension, writing assignments, research projects, college essays, and test preparation.
- Academic Mentor program: A peer tutoring program is also run out of the ARC. Upper School students have the opportunity to gain valuable internship experience by providing subject-specific academic reinforcement or homework help to with students in all three Divisions of the school.
Katie Baughman, Chair of Academic Resources Dept., Upper School
Shannon Schmidt, Academic Resource Coordinator, Middle School
Christine Grant, Academic Resource Coordinator, Lower School
Upper School is the culmination of the Garrison Forest School experience, supported by an expert and committed faculty dedicated to every aspect of a girl's growth. Personalized preparation for college and for a successful and meaningful life is the hallmark of the Upper School experience at GFS.