ESSEX STREET ACADEMY

Academics

We offer core and elective courses that challenge students to develop their own ideas.

We cultivate our students to be active learners, not passive, who will graduate from our school confident in their ability to tackle any problem they encounter.

9/10 Literature w/ Jenny and Caitlin

This 9th and 10th grade literature course is centered around the theme of identity.  Students will think deeply and critically about personal identity by analyzing characters in texts and making connections to themselves. We will consider how family, friends, society and our own intrinsic qualities shape the human beings we become. We will use a variety of reading, writing and listening mediums to reflect on identity and compare various characters’ and real people’s’ life experiences as lenses into this topic.  Additionally, students will consider how awareness and understanding of various and intersecting identities can lead to strong beliefs,  inform values and lead to action. 

Types of writing will include:  analysis, personal narrative, argument essay. 

Texts include: Stitches: A Graphic Memoir, Student Voice: 100 Argument Essays by Teens on Issues that Matter to Them, Flight. 

 

9/10 Literature w/ Jane 

This course will discuss issues of authority and power through a variety of literary texts and genres. Students will analyze how power structures come to be and are reinforced in society, as well as how these structures dictate what gets defined as a “crime” and “punishment”. We will read three literary texts (The Bluest Eye, The Crucible, Maus) as well as articles, long form journalism, poetry, video, and film. We will also discuss how different genres (novel, play, graphic novel, memoir) employ structure and craft in order to convey a message. Essential questions include: What factors lead to inhumane acts? What gives people power over others? How much agency do we really have? What determines who has choices in life? What are the ramifications of internalized oppression? How can we resist and combat societal prejudice? The semester will end with a book club unit, in which students employ the skills they have been honing all semester in a more independent and collaborative setting. 

 

11/12 Literature w/ Jackson

DREAMS AND DECISIONS IN AMERICA: A Literary Exploration

Each society is unique and functions by differing sets of social norms and explicit laws and rules. To what extent do these rules and conventions determine a person’s ability to possess their own existence? Where does our understanding of right and wrong originate? What motivates humanity: the brain, the heart, the conscience? Is personal freedom a right or a privilege? Is America the land of the free, a well-disguised prison, or somewhere in between? How do we become adults in America? How do we attempt to become “good”people? How do we encourage and support resilience in the face of entrenched injustice, inequality, and oppression?

This course is a rigorous exploration of these notions, while emphasizing the importance of social and historical context when engaging in literary analysis. We also believe in providing the necessary support, scaffolds, and modifications to make sure that every student can be stretched to think deeply across the texts but supported all the way through. 

 

In this course, we will be studying four powerful texts that will challenge us to think about how people construct individual identities across different sections of American life. The students should be prepared to challenge their assumptions and journey through others’ experiences. If a story is well written, then the analysis of the characters and plot should reflect on all human experience. By effectively analyzing literature, we can better understand ourselves and the world around us. How do people create order and sense in a chaotic world? How do individuals assert their unique perspective in a world that often promotes conformity to the norm? 

11/12 Literature w/ Greg

After intriguing the reader with the death of 16 year old Lydia in its opening pages, Celeste Ng begins the second chapter of her novel, Everything I Never Told You, with the line, “How had it begun? Like everything: with mothers and fathers.” Beyond this murder, or any murder, or any trauma, or even any non-trauma, how universally apt—everything begins with family. This course seeks to explore the complexities of family life and the way it shapes us. 

Reading three novels from diverse authors , we will look at family from many angles. Beginning with Jamaica Kincaid, we will do a deep dive into the parent-child relationship in Annie John, exploring the love-hate nuances and the role of the parent in a child’s coming-of-age. Moving to Celeste Ng’s novel, we will focus on the way parents dreams and fears for their children shape both their children and affect a marriage. We’ll look at communication, or the lack thereof, and its role in both causing and responding to trauma within the family. Additionally, we’ll consider the effects of race and otherness on a mixed-race family. Turning to Angie Cruz’s Dominicana, we will ask how justified family is in meddling in our personal lives, as well as look at the way class and emigration complicate family dynamics. Lastly, the semester will end with an independent study. Students will decide which area of the course (or even of their four years at ESA) was of most interest to them and will find, read, and analyze a new book that connects to that theme, genre, author, etc. 

 

9/10 Social studies – Culture and Power

The empires of ancient China and Rome invented systems of culture and power that have resonated for millenia. Similarly, in Buddhism and Christianity, each of these societies became the homes of world-spanning religions. This course examines how imperial states used culture to legitimize their authority, and how these two upstart religions threatened to undermine that authority until they could be brought under the emperor’s sway. By looking at the complex interplay of culture and power in the foundational civilizations of China and Rome, we can gain a deeper understanding of how ideas can be used to reinforce or resist authority in our own fractured society. 

 

Cyndy 11/12 Government

Constitutional Law is an exploration of U.S. history and current events through the examination of U.S. Supreme Court cases.  Students will think about important and enduring issues of U.S. Constitutional law connected to federalism, separation of powers, civil rights, due process, equal protection, etc.  Constitutional Law is designed to get citizen-students thinking about their power as citizens (or soon to be citizens) and the ways they might use that power, now and in the future.  

 

David 11/12 US History

NYC at War examines four Wartime periods in American history. Each war of study, the Revolutionary War, the Civil War, The War in Vietnam, and the attacks of 9/11 will be investigated through two lenses. First students will develop a deep

understanding of the causes, events, and outcomes of this conflict. Second, students will conduct individual research about how the event was influenced by New York City and its people. 


Maurice 11/12 US History

In this course, students will study how American culture evolved throughout the 20th century and how that progress made us who we are today. With the humanities (music, art, literature, and more) as our lenses, we will critically analyze how and to what extent movements, events and historical figures changed, influenced and disrupted 20th century American history and culture.

 

9/10 Integrated Math w/ Brittney

In this course students will make connections between geometric shapes, art and history. They will be discovering properties of specific polygons, circles and coordinate geometry. They will begin by exploring the difference between topological and geometric equivalence through the lens of 3D and 4D and then work their way back to examining shapes based on the world that we live in and can see. 

 

9/10 Integrated Math w/ Veronica

 

11/12 Precalculus and Calculus w/ Sarah or Pearl

In this year-long class, similar to Functions and Applications 1 & 2, we will explore different types of functions and growth, including but not limited to: linear functions, quadratic functions, cubic functions, exponential functions, logarithmic functions, and  trigonometric functions.  We will also explore different series, sequences, as well as number visualizations and counting systems.   Using this base of knowledge, we will investigate more sophisticated applications and iterations of these understandings—including but not limited to derivatives, integrals, and formulas used for counting in sequences. 

 

We will make connections back to patterns explored in Algebra and Geometry, and we will dive deeper with trigonometry relationships.  We will also deeply explore how different types of functions relate to one another through

9/10 Decomposition w/ Charles

Students will investigate the ecology, evolution, and behavior of the black soldier fly. These insects are mighty decomposers. Scientists and young biologists are investigating these insects as a more efficient and environmentally sound means of processing food waste. Students will learn about the niche of this insect and design and execute a number of experiments using this insect as a model organism.

9/10 Evolution w/ Mah 

In this course we examine human biology and behavior from an evolutionary perspective by analyzing life characteristics, comparing our anatomy and physiology to various living species. We will also examine the relative roles of genes (“nature”) and environment (“nurture”), the biological basis of behavior, diseases and systems, and adaptations in modern science. Students will actively engage in the development of scientific thinking, become good consumers of science by way of evidence and research collection, and critically analyze as part of classroom experiences. Material covered will help prepare students to understand life as it relates to biological evolution in ways that transcends the scientific discipline to explain the human species as well as the human experience. 

 

11/12 Chemistry w/ Liz

In this course we’ll get curious about what we observe in the world around us (the macroscopic level), the mystical inner mechanisms we can’t see (the microscopic level and smaller) and how these phenomena are represented (with symbols, equations, and models) in Chemistry. Knowing information at the atomic level helps to explain the behavior of matter on larger scales. Theoretical models are used to describe chemical behaviors of matter that are not directly measurable. By the end of this semester, students will better understand that precious metals, energy technology, and food can all be explained and manipulated through Chemistry.

11/12 Human Biology w/ Susie

Bodies is an 11/12 Human Biology class that focuses on the human body and its survival mechanisms. In this course, students will learn why organisms must maintain an internal balance and what happens something upsets that balance. They will also identify common life processes (circulation, nutrition, regulation), describe the functioning of organ systems and explain how these organs systems contribute to maintaining homeostasis. Students will also be able to explain the effect of common diseases (heart disease, diabetes, asthma) on organ systems and understand the relevance of these health problems in today’s society. Students will sharpen their scientific method skills by conducting physiology experiments on pulse, cardiac recovery rates, vital capacities, and visual reaction time, before designing their own panel project on one of these variables.



Spanish 1

Spanish 1 is a course that will encompass elements of the language and culture of the Spanish-speaking world. The class will focus primarily on the language skills of reading, writing, speaking, and listening in order to get students communicating in the target language from day 1. The course will be content rich; the products, perspectives, and practices of the Spanish-speaking world will be investigated in order to cultivate a deep and nuanced understanding of the various cultures of the Spanish-speaking world. 

 

Spanish 2

Spanish 2 advances the linguistic skills developed in Spanish 1  by providing ample opportunities for students to read, speak, listen, and write in Spanish. Students will complete interpretive, interpersonal, and presentational tasks that will require them to actively use the Spanish language in simulated and real-life contexts. A wide range of authentic materials will be employed from the Spanish-speaking world in order to foster curiosity and to expose students to multiple varieties of the Spanish language. 

French 1

French I is an introduction to French language and culture. The fundamentals of French pronunciation, grammar, and culture are presented through a balanced development of all four skills: listening, speaking, reading, and writing. The importance of communication and cultural awareness is stressed through a wide variety of activities (group/pair work, video, audio recordings, computer assignments, etc.). This course is designed for students with little or no knowledge of French language or culture.

French 2

French 2 is a course that focuses on the continued development of the three modes of communicative competence: interacting with other speakers of French, understanding oral and written messages in French, and making oral and written presentations in French.  The class will continue to show greater accuracy when using basic language structures and be exposed to more complex features of the French language. Emphasis will continue to be placed on the use of French in the classroom as well as on the use of authentic materials to learn about the culture(s) of francophone countries. The importance of communication and intercultural awareness is stressed through a wide variety of activities (group/pair work, video, audio recordings, computer assignments, etc.).  This course is designed for students with significant prior exposure to or at least one year of study of French language and culture.