South Kent School's 7 Principles of Learning

South Kent School’s Principles of Learning create a unifying framework by which we understand how to teach our students effectively.  Through these principles, the faculty guide students in an adaptive and supportive environment to grow in mind, body, and spirit.

Boys Learn Best...

1: Boys learn best when their instruction is differentiated to their individual physical, emotional, and cognitive development.

2: Boys learn best in a loving, supportive community where they have meaningful relationships with inspiring and dedicated adults.

3: Boys learn best when skills are developed as the building blocks toward mastery.

4: Boys learn best when they experience their curriculum through vivid and intense activities with frequent practice and thoughtful feedback.

5: Boys learn best through self-reflection, resulting in a deep understanding of their learning and their value within the community.

6: Boys learn best through healthy habits of mind that build a strong sense of self and character.

7: Boys learn best when they imagine, innovate, and create in a community founded on tradition and values.

Thrive and Engage

In support of our mission, South Kent School’s THRIVE and ENGAGE programs go beyond traditional academics, and prepare our boys to thrive as thoughtful and engaged citizens in a rapidly changing and intensely competitive world.


THRIVE develops thoughtful students by instilling healthy habits of mind and providing a caring and supportive environment for self-reflection, resulting in a deep understanding of their value within our community. 

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ENGAGE seminars are vivid and intense seminars with a focus on social justice and climate change that provide real-world, hands-on experiences to prepare young men for the rapidly changing world they will inherit.

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Academics at SKS

One of the things students like best about South Kent School is that learning here is more than just reading books and listening to lectures. Teachers here engage students in thoughtful discussions and encourage them to ask questions and think.

Our challenge-based learning techniques place students in the center of real-world problems to try and solve by employing the principles they learn. We also have a strong international student presence that offers unique opportunities for cross-cultural learning and the development of international contacts. We have the highest deployment of iPads in the classroom of any prep school in the Northeast.

What is Challenge-Based Learning?

South Kent School has embraced what is referred to as “Challenge-Based Learning” in our academics. Challenge-Based Learning empowers students to discover the solutions to real-world problems while broadcasting their learning process and final result to the world utilizing digital media. This approach encourages natural inquisitiveness, group collaboration, analytical growth and hands-on problem solving. South Kent boys are able to seamlessly work individually, socially and through technology. Our 1-to-1 iPad program supports this philosophy and allows for interactive, enjoyable and effective learning using state-of-the-art technology.

Student-Instructor Interactions

Our classes are small -- usually ten students. Teachers live on campus and serve as advisors, coaches, mentors and dorm parents. They get to know the students and are there to help. Each student has a faculty advisor who meets with him weekly and helps him get the most from South Kent's educational program.

Form Program

We use what we call form-based programming to engage and challenge each age group, and all forms have a similar approach to activities. Programming for Third and Fourth Forms (9th and 10th grade) is interdisciplinary and inquiry-based. Programming for the Fifth and Sixth Forms (11th and 12th grade) is more traditional.

Faculty Advisors

South Kent School understands the vital role of adult mentors in the lives of young men. At the beginning of the year, each student is assigned a faculty advisor who meets with the student at least once a week and assists with navigating academic and school community responsibilities. Faculty advisors help students to plan their academic programs, review with them their weekly Quality and Effort Cards, and serve as a source of adult support and advice. They work in partnership with parents to help each boy achieve his personal goals.

Effort System

At South Kent School, a boy’s efforts are recognized through an effort rating system that encompasses just about every facet of school life. There are two sections of the effort system – one for academics on a weekly basis and another for community life in each marking period. We believe that it is important to recognize young men who meet their commitments, are responsible, and show initiative, even though they may be struggling to achieve high quality results. We hope that success in the process of learning will eventually yield success in the product.

Our academic effort system is built around the weekly “Effort Evaluations” that are submitted by classroom teachers. The student’s effort in each class is assessed on a scale ranging from Outstanding (1) to Poor (5), based on clear criteria.

A similar scale is used at the end of each marking period to assess a boy’s performance in other important parts of his life at South Kent: athletics, jobs, dormitory, and general citizenship. The top ten students are rewarded with additional school privileges.

Cum Laude Society

The Cum Laude Society is a national honor society formed in 1907. Modeled on Phi Beta Kappa, it is designed to encourage and recognize learning and sound scholarship in secondary school. Chapters of the Cum Laude Society are established only in schools of excellent academic quality. South Kent School elects as members those students in the Sixth Form year who demonstrate outstanding academic achievement and who have maintained an honors record throughout their secondary school career. Election to the Cum Laude Society is one of the highest honors South Kent bestows on its students.

Graduation Requirements

South Kent graduates are well prepared for academic work at the collegiate level and have carried a challenging class load.
Minimum requirements include:

English4 Credits (minimum of English 4)
Mathematics4 Credits (minimum level of Algebra 2)
Science3 credits (minimum of two lab sciences)
Electives4 credits
History3 credits
Language2 Credits (Same language)


Yearly Requirements

All students are required to take a minimum of one English course each year.
All students are required to take a minimum of one math course each year.
All students are required to take a minimum of one history course each year.
Students are required to complete Engage courses unless they are exempt due to their SUPA course responsibilities or South Kent Selects Academy obligations.

All students are required to take a minimum of five courses each year with the following exceptions:

  1. A student may enroll in four courses if he has taken a summer course approved by the Academic Office.
  2. A student has a documented learning difference requiring enrollment in the ASAP program.
  3. A student may enroll in four courses if three of those courses are honors/advanced/SUPA level courses.

Underform students (third, fourth, and fifth forms) who fail a year-long course are required to make up the lost credit through summer work or by repeating the course the following academic year.

Sixth form and post graduate students are ineligible for graduation if they fail a year-long course. Sixth form and post graduate students who fail a year-long course will be required to replace the lost credit through course work completed during the summer. The summer coursework must be approved by the Academic Office at South Kent School. Students in this category may participate in graduation activities but no diploma or graduation date will be awarded until the coursework is completed.

To fulfill the language requirement, students must take at least two-years of the same language. The language requirement can be waived or altered if a student has a documented learning difference or if the student is interested in learning a computer language. Non-native English speakers are not required to take additional language courses.

  1. Fulfill the obligations of the graduation requirements and complete a year at South Kent School (Current Students).
  2. Graduation by Transcript Review (Must be approved by the Board of Trustees):
    1. The student must attend SKS for a minimum of one complete academic year.
    2. The student must meet all current academic requirements of the school.
    3. The student must be leaving SKS to pursue a path that is necessary for his collegiate, health, professional goals, or other instance the head of school feels is a compelling reason.
  3. Honorary Graduation. Awarded by the Head of School.