Montana Academy provides a year-round preparatory school with a comprehensive curriculum, including all core high school subject areas, i.e., literature, history, science, mathematics, and foreign languages, and also offerings in music, creative writing, the arts and drama (see Course Offerings). A course in psychology, part of the clinical program, earns high school credits. Honors (H) and Advanced Placement (AP) levels of intensity and course content may be pursued in most subjects.
Most MA graduates will attend college, albeit younger students first may return to private or public high schools. Many MA students have experienced an academic break-down in the past or failed to function well in school. Yet a substantial number of MA graduates gain admittance and attend the nation’s most challenging colleges and universities—and do well (see Outcomes).
The Academy’s academic success results from small class size, close teacher-student relationships, and a tight integration of clinical and scholastic dimensions of each student’s campus life. The goal for our students, in school as well as in the clinical program, is an effective, grown-up approach to learning—not the mere swallowing of course content. The Academy’s exceptional teachers engage young people in intimate classrooms, offering challenging curricula in a caring atmosphere. Our teachers are expert in their subject areas, of course, but the leverage that moves students onward, academically, is a personal relationship.
At the same time, inspired by the CRISS Project (created by Carol Santa, PhD, the school’s Director of Education), MA teachers teach not just what but also how to learn. They weave reading, writing and study strategies into classroom subject content. In a challenging but nurturing environment, both students who have already excelled and students who have had to struggle, can rise to their academic potential.
Academic subjects are organized into four twelve week blocks, or semesters. MA’s block system is so flexible that we can enroll new students at almost any entry-point during the year. In each block, students enroll in three academic subjects and one study-hall staffed by a teacher who helps students with assignments. This block system helps fallen-behind students to catch up in credits and allows already-successful students to deepen their academic experience with choices from a diverse curriculum (see Course Offerings).
The Academy values balance—with time set aside for intensive classroom participation, but also protected time for reading and individual study, writing, vigorous athletics, and conversation. After breakfast, students attend classes all morning, and there is a fifth period, after lunch and group, for projects, clan or academic assignments. Before dinner, all students participate in sports or fitness (soccer, basketball, cross-country, snowshoeing, yoga, cross-country skiing, volleyball, weight lifting, rock-climbing, aerobics, softball). MA fields competitive teams in soccer, basketball and cross country that compete other schools. On week-ends students may participate in off-campus recreational activities, e.g., downhill skiing, rock-climbing, cycling, canoeing.
Montana Academy’s school has been accredited (as a high school) by Northwest Association of Accredited Schools (NAAS) since 1998. MA was also accredited (as a high school and as a therapeutic program) by the National Independent Private School Association (NIPSA) in 2008 (see ACCREDITATION & LICENSURE).