Teaching and Learning

Academics at St. Mary’s 

St. Mary’s offers an academically challenging program through the International Baccalaureate (IB) framework to students from Preschool through Grade Eight. St. Mary’s is the only private school in Orange County with the IB curriculum. While developing an inquiry-based approach to learning, students are encouraged to ask challenging questions and form critical thinking skills to become actively engaged in their own learning. The context of the IB program focuses on international education and creating cultural awareness to develop students into citizens of the world. The acquisition of a foreign language at an early age is encouraged and supported as early as Preschool, and as students progress through Middle School, they are provided with opportunities to collaborate with others internationally - essential to life in the 21st century.

Students in Preschool through Grade Five follow the IB Primary Years Programme (PYP), which focuses on the development of the whole child through an emphasis on intellectual, personal, emotional and social growth. Learning inside and outside the classroom serves to stimulate curiosity and inquiry in order to foster a spirit of discovery and enjoyment of learning.

Students in Grades Six through Eight move into the IB Middle Years Programme (MYP), which encourages students to embrace and understand the connections between traditional subjects and the real world, and become critical and reflective thinkers. Middle schoolers focus on developing life skills and critical thinking abilities in challenging, interrelated academic courses in preparation for high school and beyond.

Both programmes deliver:

  • Development of learning skills
  • A strong international dimension
  • Content from educational cultures around the world
  • A broad range of subjects
  • Individual subjects and transdisciplinary areas
  • Special emphasis on foreign languages
  • Individual and collaborative planning and research
  • Encouragement to become responsible citizens

The key word is: framework. Integrating themes of global significance, encouraging inquiry and reflection, challenging students to tap creativity to solve problems… this is the crux of true learning, allowing curriculums free to be changed as the world changes