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Multicultural Curriculum

While multiculturalism already represents a main theme in many Berwick classes, the Curriculum Council is actively working to integrate themes of multiculturalism, inclusion, and diversity into all divisions and subject areas. Below are just a few examples of some of the multicultural curricula and pedagogy already in place at Berwick.

Lower School Languages: The Lower School World Language program, which includes Mandarin and Spanish, supports the students' understanding of World Language acquisition through song, word play, customs and cooking. Learn more about these programs.

The curriculum in the Middle School spans a variety of topics and subject matters with a multicultural focus, particularily in the 6th grade Humanities and 7th grade World Cultures and English classes. 6th grade Humanities focuses on ancient cultures from around the globe. 7th grade World Cultures focuses on cultural and geographic study of Asia, Africa, and Latin America, and also includes a strong emphasis on current events in those regions. 7th grade English reads several novels from various cultures to work in conjunction with the World Cultures class.  

The Middle School Language program offers three language options to students including Mandarin, Spanish, and Latin. Learn more about the Language program.

Many of our Upper School history and English classes challenge students to engage with the narratives of people whose cultures and lives differ greatly from their own. For example, in our 9th grade history classes, we ask our students to explore the myriad of spiritual traditions within Hinduism in one trimester while learning about the intricacies of the Koran and the triumphs of the medieval Islamic empire in another. By immersing our students in such vibrant and diverse stories, Berwick humanities classes help our students develop empathy and the ability to appreciate and leverage difference, preparing them for our increasingly diverse and connected world. 

In a senior English elective, My Jerusalem: Modern Middle East, students analyze the complex world that is the modern Middle East through the lens of literature, essays, and film. By exploring a variety of perspectives, including those of gender, faith, and nation, students examine the simplistic and often divisive notions of binaries - Muslim vs. Christian, Israel vs. Palestine, West vs. East, Woman vs. Man, Terrorist vs. Victim. 

Boundary Crossings: Literature of Post Colonial Africa examines the themes of empire, colonialism, immigration and assimilation from the points of view of the colonizer and colonized, the expatriate and the immigrant, as well as multiple viewpoints of multi-ethnic nations of some of the post-colonial nations of Africa. 

Learn more about our Upper School curriculum.

The Upper School Language Department encourages our students to spend a semester or year abroad. Their transitions between our curriculum and that of the host country's is facilitated by our faculty and deans. For the last 21 years the Upper School has celebrated a Language Day (which has recently become an all-school event) during which there are many student performances. To encourage complete language immersion, most of our Upper School language classes are conducted almost entirely in the target language. 

Travel Program: Our commitment to travel as an essential element of building cultural skills has become more present in our community in recent years. In 2014, we began offering formal supplemental financial aid to students who require extra resources to enjoy these enriching experiences. We have developed a four-year menu of travel in the Upper School but believe our students can learn as much or more about cultural difference by travelling domestically as they can by travelling abroad. Learn more about our Travel Program.

Poet-in-Residence

Established in 2011 the Poet-in-Residence program has welcomed several well-known poets to Berwick Academy including Poet Laureate of Portsmouth, NH Kimberly Green, author of Bolt Cutters -a 2011 Maine Writers and Publishers Competition finalist -Thomas Moore, award-winning Palestinian-American poet Naomi Shihab-Nye, and Boston based spoken word artist Sofia Snow. In 2015 we will welcome Richard Blanco, an internationally acclaimed poet known for his original poem One Today which he read at President Obama's inauguration ceremony on January 21, 2013. That day confirmed him as a historical figure: the first Latino, immigrant, and gay writer bestowed by such an honor, as well as the youngest ever, at the age of 44. 

Berwick Academy is a community of learners who value the diversity of our society and are eager to widen their cultural understanding. The Poet-in-Residence program has offered our students a unique cultural perspective of the world through poetry. By reading, discussing, memorizing, and presenting their poems, students are able to see that even the smallest detail thoroughly observed can be a way to understand and/or question our world. 

Richard Blanco is an historic inaugural poet, public speaker, teacher and memoirist. He travels the world inviting audiences to reconnect to the heart of the human experience and all of its beautiful diversity.

Naomi Shihab-Nye has authored of several novels for young readers, picture books, essays, and short fiction. Drawing from her heritage, the cultural diversity of her home in Texas, and her traveling experiences, Nye’s writing attests to our shared humanity. 

Sofia Snow was selected for Spoken Word Artist of the Year by the Massachusetts Industry Committee of Hip Hop Awards. Using Hip Hop as a means to inspire social change, Ms. Snow is the co-founder of the Not Enough Mics Collaborative, a nationwide network of women artists.

Innovation Pursuits

The Berwick Innovation Center allows students in grades 4-12 to pursue an area of interest or passion through self-directed study with the assistance of an involved mentor. Some of the pursuits involving a multicultural or inclusive theme include:
  • Musical expression and American Sign Language
  • Comparing differences in educational models on a worldwide scale 
  • Sustainability of education in the developing world  
  • A comparative study on the infrastructure of 24 countries across the globe 
  • Exploration of social justice in different areas of the world
  • An original story inspired by an investigation of the Holocaust
Learn more about the Berwick Innovation Center

Serving Maine, The Seacoast of New Hampshire, and the North Shore of Massachusetts

Berwick Academy is Maine's oldest, independent Pre-K through Post Graduate private school. Our community is dynamic, offering challenging academics, competitive athletics, and creative arts programs. Members of the community operate within a context of caring and respect as we pursue our quest for "useful knowledge" as "one school with three divisions." Students and faculty are encouraged to expand their horizons by balancing academics with athletic, dramatic, and musical options.