St. Stephen's Episcopal SChool
St. Stephen’s Episcopal School teaches children in grades PreK-12 according to Montessori principles of education. It was originally founded in 1971 as a parish Montessori school at Palmer Memorial Episcopal Church. The school moved to the St. Stephen’s Episcopal Church facility in 1983 and was incorporated as St. Stephen’s Episcopal School in 1987. The middle school was established in 1991, and the high school was established in 1998. St. Stephen’s is accredited by the American Montessori Society and Southwestern Association of Episcopal Schools.
St. Stephen’s Episcopal is affiliated with the St. Stephen’s Episcopal Church, and students are required to attend chapel regularly. The school incorporates a Christian atmosphere within the Montessori Method of education, a program that is not inherently religious in nature. The school and the church host joint events and activities for the students attending St. Stephen’s. Upper school students are required to complete one credit of religious studies each year.
Location and Facilities
St. Stephen’s campus is located in Houston’s Museum District on West Alabama Street near South Shepherd Drive. Modeled after St. Thomas University’s original campus, the school’s buildings are a collection of 1930's-era homes that have been remodeled. All classrooms are designed to the specific requirements of a traditional Montessori classroom. Lower School classrooms are grouped not by grades but by multi-age groups - ages 3-6, for instance - which share a single classroom. Multi-age groups are an integral part of the Montessori Method.
St. Stephen’s features rolling enrollment, with an application deadline of December 31st for early childhood students. Applications may be submitted as much as one year in advance. Along with the online application, St. Stephen’s requires three teacher recommendation forms; administrator confidential forms; academic records including standardized test scores, conference forms, report cards, and transcripts; a school interview and 1-3 day visitation; and an entrance exam. The exam requirement consists of WPPSI or WISC IV testing for those entering grades 1-6 and ISEE testing for those entering grades 7-12. Priority is given to siblings of current and former students.
Academic Tracks and Curriculum
The Montessori Method emphasizes the natural development of the student with the teacher acting as a guide rather than a traditional instructor. Each classroom is open and orderly and is filled with Montessori materials, such as the pink tower of blocks. Students are allowed to develop at their own pace, but within the specific limits of the classroom environment. From ages 2 ½ to 12 years, students learn in mixed-age classrooms, where older students support younger students.
For ages 11-14, the school has implemented the International Middle Years Curriculum (IMYC). This curriculum stems from the IPC for primary grades and is designed to “provide a structured approach to make sure that students’ learning experiences are as stimulating as possible.” The IMYC incorporates six-week-long units of work, each based on a “Big Idea.” St. Stephen's was the first school in the United States to adopt this curriculum.
At the high school level, St. Stephen’s is in the process of implementing the International Baccalaureate curriculum, and it has been certified as an IB Diploma Program school. IB is considered to be one of the most challenging high school curricular systems, and it is generally held in high regard by college admissions professionals.
For grades PreK-6, the Montessori grading system is used. This system focuses on completion of learning objectives and does not assign grades with specific values. For grades 7-12, St. Stephen’s utilizes the traditional grading system of American education, assigning letter grades or numbers to exams.
Students at the high school level must complete 15-30 hours of community service and 25 credits to graduate. Credit distribution requirements are as follows: English (4), history (3.5), math (4), science (4.5), foreign language (3), wellness/athletics (1.5), technology & senior project (1), economics (0.5), and electives (3). Advanced Placement work is available to students who have successfully completed prerequisite courses.
No information concerning St. Stephen's Episcopal School's accommodations for students with special needs is available at this time.
Students attending St. Stephen’s at the high school level must complete 3 years of a foreign language as a requirement for graduation. Historically, students have chosen between French and Spanish. The implementation of the IB program will allow additional choices.
The pursuit of the fine arts is incorporated into the curriculum at every level. Students are introduced to music and the use of various art materials in the Lower School. Students in the Upper School are given the option to take two years of Art as an elective. One course focuses on 2D design through painting and drawing. The second course focuses on 3D design and sculpting with materials like clay. Students may also participate in a drama class, which includes critiques on previously experienced theatre productions and researching the history of artistic eras.
St. Stephen’s utilizes technology in every level of the school. Students in grades 7-12 are required to bring their laptops to school every day. St. Stephen’s suggests that students bring a laptop that is no older than two years. Any Mac, PC, or Linux system with a wireless connection is acceptable. Students in grades 7-12 are also assigned an email account through Microsoft Outlook Express and have access to classroom information and school events through Edline.
As part of the school’s requirements for graduation, students in grades 7-12 must participate in community service. Students in 7th grade must complete 5 hours of community service, and each successive grade completes an additional 5 hours beyond what was required the year before. Seniors will be expected to complete 30 hours of community service before they graduate. BOSS (Boys of St. Stephen’s) and GLO (Girls Leadership Organization) provide community service options for students. One popular option is mentoring at the YMCA. Students also have the opportunity to participate in trips to destinations like Puerto Rico, Washington D.C., Mo Ranch, and the Grand Canyon.
St. Stephen’s includes physical activity within its curriculum and gives its students the chance to participate in various sports programs, namely flag football, volleyball, golf, tennis, basketball, and soccer. These programs are available from the middles school level onward. St. Stephen’s competes in the Texas Christian Athletics League and the Texas Association of Private and Parochial Schools athletic conference.
Parents may get involved with the school’s Parent Community to meet other families and volunteer.
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1800 Sul Ross, Houston, TX 77098