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The Kensington Woods Difference focuses on an academically challenging college-preparatory academic program and curriculum designed to meet state and national content standards and prepare students for the next step in their academic career. The academic program is woven in with strong student/teacher relationships, character education and innovative teaching methods that bring the real world to the classroom all in a small, personal learning environment.

The Kensington Woods curriculum is designed to meet the expectations of the Michigan Merit Curriculum (MMC) for high school and the Michigan Grade Level Content Expectations (GLCE) for the middle school program as well as the expectations of the Common Core. Kensington Woods has fully embraced the intention and spirit of the Michigan Department of Education's curriculum expectations which believes that all students can attain a level of achievement that will serve them, as well as our state and nation well in the future.


Academic Expectations

At Kensington Woods, we hold high expectations for all students in their character, behavior and, most importantly, their academics. By holding students to high academic expectations, we believe, and research supports, that they will rise to those expectations and excel. We help students meet our high expectations through a variety of ways.

Mastery Learning

We expect all students to master the content. Therefore, there are no "D's" at Kensington Woods. The minimum passing grade is a 70%. But we hold a mastery learning philosophy that allows students to develop their skills and knowledge until they can demonstrate mastery of the content. That might be retaking a test, revising a project or other ways to demonstrate their knowledge, depending on the course and teacher.

Mastery learning not only prevents failure but it builds motivation and confidence. Students who struggle with difficult work but then are able to successfully complete it get the sense of satisfaction and competence that is essential in developing adults who persist and are willing to tackle challenging problems. 


Growth Mind Set

We practice a “Growth Mind Set” philosophy where students are instructed in the extraordinary ability of each human brain to grow and change throughout a lifetime. At Kensington Woods there is no such thing as “I’m not good at math,” or “I’ve never done well in English.” Rather, we guide students in locating their strengths, building on what they do well, and applying those strategies to new tasks. They are amazed at what they can do! By maintaining the same standard of learning for all, we believe that every student who enters our building can truly be whoever they want to be.


Whatever it Takes Attitude

At Kensington Woods, we hold a "Whatever it Takes" attitude. Teachers will do whatever it takes to help a student find success, and we expect students and parents to do so as well. Teachers, students and parents work as a team to help students achieve.


College Acceptance

We hold the expectation that all Seniors will be accepted into a university or college before graduating. We support them in achieving this goal through rigorous and relevant academics as well as providing support and resources to apply to college through our our Advisory and college counseling programs. 


Standardized Tests

Through our high expectations we expect to, and do see, academic success for students through improved performance in the classroom as well as on standardized tests like the SAT and M-STEP. We support strong performances on these tests not through teaching to the test, but by teaching academic content and academic skills in engaging and rigorous ways that helps students truly learn the content and skills needed for success on these tests but also for success in college and beyond.

We also support students' strong and improved performance on the SAT through an SAT preparation program unique to Kensington Woods, designed for each student's needs.

At Kensington Woods, we have a proven record continual success at students improving their standardized test scores over time, especially for those who attend our school for 3+ years.


Peer Tutoring

Kensington Woods embeds peer tutoring opportunities for students throughout the curriculum. Peer tutoring not only helps students who are struggling, but helps those students who are tutoring. Those students have an opportunity to “teach,” which is widely regarded as the most effective way of learning.


Character Education

Character Education is integrated throughout our school in a variety of ways. Kensington Woods offers a supportive, non-coercive environment that encourages students to take responsibility for their actions as well as understand that they have choices for their behavior. Character traits such as; getting along, kindness, optimism, work ethic, responsibility and respect are highlighted throughout the curriculum and students are encouraged to demonstrate these traits outside of the classroom.

The importance of strong relationships is emphasized throughout Kensington Woods as well as an emphasis on the motivation and the development of the whole student (academic as well as social, emotional and civic responsibility) in order to create the foundation of being a successful member of society.


21st Century Curriculum

Being prepared for college and the workforce in the 21st century looks a lot different than it did in the past century. Graduates will be asked to apply their knowledge in new, innovative ways. Developing 21st century skills like collaboration, creativity, critical-thinking and communication prepare students for these tasks. At Kensington Woods, we embed the development of these skills in all of our classes and learning experiences every day.

With the focus on 21st century skills, the curriculum is focused less on content and more on what students do with the content. Students make connections, raise questions and make decisions based on inquiry and careful consideration. In today’s information dense world, the profile of the successful 21st century student and worker is one who can find the relevant information, evaluate it, synthesize it, and apply it to solve problems.

By being invested in inquiry and project based learning, students become active, engaged citizens. Students are presented with a problem or question and engage in activities in which students generate and test hypotheses, create analogies, research, develop empathy, perform field work or community service, and collaborate to present solutions, answers, and discoveries. This process places an emphasis on design-thinking, a process that designers, engineers, scientists, and other professionals follow to solve real world problems.


Subject-Area Integration and STEAM

Subject-Area Integration is when more than one subject area or discipline are combined to teach a concept, skill or course. This allows students to see how ideas are connected in a real-world way and teaches content in context, allowing students to develop collaboration and critical thinking skills. Subject-area integration also helps engage students while increasing knowledge retention.

At Kensington Woods, many classes are taught in an integrated fashion and many teachers bring in other disciplines to teach their subject.

The STEAM (science, technology, engineering, ART and math) Program is a growing program at Kensington Woods, integrating art throughout the sciences and mathematics. This is done through integrated classes, like Chem/Art, which combines Chemistry and Visual Art, through projects in different classes, whole school projects and through a design mindset.

Freshman Seminar combines English 9 and 9th grade Social Studies to investigate global and local issues like poverty while addressing the Michigan Merit Curriculum. Students study themes like poverty by reading complex real-world non-fiction texts as well as literature and poetry to explore topics simultaneously with the study of geography, history, and people.

Symposium is a semester class designed to be an integrated, project based experience focused on a particular theme. Symposium investigates different themes each semester from a Humanities or STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering & Math) perspective. Students study the theme from a variety of angles, include from the lens of different subjects and then create a culminating project to critically analyze a problem and propose a solution.

The Middle School program is an integrated program at its core, blending different subjects to address themes and core content. Each year the program focuses on a different theme, using the theme to guide the integrated exploration of content and whole middle school projects.

Other integrated classes include: World Cultures (World History and World Geography), Chem/Art (Chemistry and Visual Art), English 11 (English 11 and Civics/Government) and English 12 (English 12, Art and Senior Exhibition).