The academic rigor of our Upper School curriculum is unmatched, but so is the support that students receive from teachers, advisors, staff, coaches, and their classmates as part of our supportive and caring community.
Also unmatched are the test scores and college acceptances earned by our students—but we define student success by more than just stats. Our teachers are some of the finest content experts in their respective fields, and they cultivate in students the key skills and abilities that will set them apart in college and in life. Our students are able to articulate their ideas, listen with an open mind to other points of view, and work collaboratively—which gives them the conviction and self-confidence to innovate and shape their worlds.
The Upper School curriculum at USM features a comprehensive and challenging academic program supported by innovative learning activities and state-of-the-art technology and learning spaces. Students are afforded a well-rounded, personalized secondary education, with faculty who provide the academic and life experiences students need to become responsible and productive adults. More than 17 Advanced Placement courses are also offered to interested students.
Class sizes are small, allowing for individualized attention and support. While many classes are seminar-style roundtable discussions that encourage active participation by all, many others are held in state-of-the-art spaces like the Lubar Center for Innovation and Exploration, newer Science Wing classrooms, and the Abert Tooman Center for the Arts, among others.
A sense of community is an important part of the Upper School student life experience. Lunches in the Olson Commons include rotating seating assignments, with an adult at each table, allowing for conversation and sharing. Students are strongly encouraged to take on roles outside the classroom, through student government, clubs, athletics, performing arts, and community service. Upper School student life is enriched by many community activities and opportunities, including advising and our House program.
Our kids came back after starting college and felt like they were ahead in their courses because of the preparation they got at USM. It comes down to the academic preparation, the emotional education, and the Common Trust. Those things are unique to the school and are important.
USM students are supported by our strong advising, supportive counseling, and a four-year College Guidance program, and have the opportunity to participate in a truly one-of-a-kind Internship and Shadowing program starting in the sophomore year. Upon graduation, each student will fully embody the characteristics outlined in our Portrait of a USM Graduate, as they matriculate to some of the finest post-secondary institutions in the country and the world.
The freshman year of high school is a major milestone for students, especially at University School of Milwaukee. Whether coming from USM’s Middle School or a different school, our 9th graders begin to learn the communication, transition, and study skills necessary to be successful Upper School students, starting with Freshman Orientation for students and their parents or guardians in August. Students also work with their advisors and teachers to develop a strong balance between their academic and extracurricular activities, as well as time management skills to balance USM responsibilities with those outside of school.
The sophomore year at University School of Milwaukee focuses on service and service learning, as the school works to prepare students as citizens who engage in their local and global communities. In their final year as underclassmen in the Upper School, our 10th graders begin their next step between their transitional freshman year and the start of their journey as upperclassmen in 11th grade. By the end of their sophomore year, students will better understand responsibility, time management, independence, and the impact of their decisions on others.
As 11th graders at University School of Milwaukee, our juniors begin their journey as upperclassmen in the Upper School. The junior year is an important step in that journey, with students taking on more responsibilities and typically starting an even more challenging curriculum than they experienced in their first two years of Upper School. By the end of 11th grade, students are ready to return in fall as seniors and begin their final year at USM.
Senior year—the culmination of a student's academic career at University School of Milwaukee. Our school's Portrait of a Graduate was framed with the culmination of this milestone year in mind, with 12th grade students preparing to finalize their development as learners, leaders, and citizens before moving on to their colleges and universities of choice for the next step in their academic careers.
On behalf of our faculty and administrative team, I want to thank you for exploring University School of Milwaukee for your child's high school experience. Once you have learned all that you can from these pages, I would invite you and your family to visit our campus and classrooms for a conversation and a tour, to see for yourself what makes a USM education so special. When you're ready for the next step, just click on one of the buttons below. I look forward to meeting you.
Dr. Gina Haughton
Head of Upper School