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A Strong Academic Foundation

“When you’re teaching, your work goes beyond the subject matter to developing students’ courage and their ability to take risks. I experienced the qualities of outstanding teachers at Fenn. In the presence of those teachers, I felt safe in trying to do new things. If the school gets it right at that age, it gives young people a terrific foundation.”

Tom Piper ’51
Professor of Ethics, Harvard Business School, father of Jon ’86, and former trustee of The Fenn School
In the classroom, fourth through ninth grade students are actively engaged, their attention held by strong teaching, hands-on activities, and material that interests boys. In a science class, boys identify insects they gathered from the banks of the Concord River or plant seedlngs in the school garden. They conduct experiments using sophisticated devices such as spectrometers and Vernier temperature probes. Ninth grade history students might Skype with students in the Middle East to broaden their perspective of conflicts and the social studies curriculum emphasizes a global approach. English classes emphasize reading and writing both formally and informally, from blogging to formal essay composition. 

Every teacher promotes a process of wonder and discovery through which boys learn by doing. Technology is used to help boys think critically, solve problems, and make decisions; boys have access to e-readers, laptops, and iPads that are sometimes used for class activities. All ninth graders are issued a tablet as an academic tool. 
 
Teachers and students at Fenn, one of the most innovative schools for boys in New England, engage in a constant exchange of ideas in the classroom, with students encouraged to share their thoughts and lead discussions. This type of dialogue and debate refines boys’ ideas and develops critical thinking skills. It sharpens their ability to communicate and encourages them to be intellectual risk-takers.
 
Each year students progress toward more sophisticated cognitive reasoning and greater intellectual challenges. Through coordinated courses that integrate across disciplines, students are prepared for rigorous secondary school work. Boys achieve academic success, gain confidence, and learn skills that will help them succeed in high school, college, and careers. 

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“The most important lesson I learned at Fenn is to always try my hardest.”

Nick W. ’09 and Phillips Exeter Academy ’12