Our Curriculum: Building a Community of Passionate Learners

Take deeper look into Vistamar's curriculum with our Head of School, Chris Bright.
Vistamar’s curriculum is intentionally designed to teach strong critical thinking and to develop each student’s ability to thrive within an inclusive and aspirational community. Our approach builds those skills and dispositions that colleges and universities are seeking. Our graduates are problem solvers, collaborative thinkers, and passionate learners. Our academic program not only provides our students with the tools they need to succeed in college, but to cultivate the foundations of a life lived well and meaningfully; an essential aim of our mission.

VistaMath and Science

Our math curriculum was conceived at Philips Exeter Academy. It’s an integrated program—meaning algebra and geometry are taught together rather than as isolated subjects. We believe that problem-solving skills, like dissecting a problem, recognizing familiar challenges, exploring and generalizing, making conjectures and proving them - are essential to the development of mathematical and critical thinking skills. Consequently, all students are expected to learn not just the rules of mathematics, but how those rules are derived and applied, and to be able to discuss that using proper mathematical terminology. A strong benefit of VistaMath is that our graduates learn to speak the language of math, and are more than competent mathematically. 100% of Vistamar students complete four years of math compared to about a third of their U.S. counterparts.

In Vistamar’s Modular Science program, our students take two trimester modules of biology, two trimester modules of chemistry, and two trimester modules of chemistry, beginning in their 9th grade year and continuing through their 10th grade year.  By the end of 10th grade our students have studied all three of the core sciences and are making solid connections between each of them. After completing these modules, students pursue a multitude of higher-level science courses including a full range of Advanced Placement courses, and other specialized subjects such as Anatomy and Physiology, Inventions & Engineering, and Modern Biotechnology & Bio Ethics.

Humanities and Beyond

In 9th and 10th grades, English and history are taught together as one class instead of two independent subjects. Because they are combined, we’re able to incorporate into the course economic, cultural, religious, and geographic implications of what our students study. As a fusion of history, language arts, and geography, our curriculum prepares students to read critically, write precisely and clearly, to speak confidently, and to research productively. As 11th and 12th graders, Vistamar students have many options and pathways before them as they design their course of study and develop their passions in literature or the social sciences.

The Arts

Fostering our students’ creative habits of mind by affording them experiences in the arts as doers, creators, makers, and consumers strengthens their ability to thrive in a globalized society. Our faculty of working artists emphasizes the process of creativity, rather than simply the product or outcome of the endeavor. The overarching benefit of this approach, is that our students have voice and agency; they want to make the world better, and doing that well requires a creative, flexible, and resourceful mind.

Each year, we evaluate our curriculum to make sure that students will graduate as prepared as possible for the world outside of our walls - to be change-makers and active members of their communities. Our goal is to support each student on the path to any college that they choose. Our globally focused curriculum and integrated academic program is not only innovative, it prepares our students to thrive in their careers and their lives. Between our accomplished faculty and our 21st century curriculum at Vistamar you’ll never think of high school the same way again.

View our Curriculum Guide here.

Vistamar School is a private independent high school in the South Bay region of Los Angeles
Vistamar School  |  737 Hawaii Street, El Segundo, CA 90245  |  T: 310.643.7377  |  F: 310.643.7371