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Make sense of the world through the lenses of mathematics

The purpose of a St. Mark’s mathematical education is to develop students’ understanding of and appreciation for the ability to make sense of the world through the lens of mathematics: space and number, logic and pattern. We nurture students’ development by challenging them to be creative, critical and tenacious problem solvers, able to both share and reflect on their process and results with clarity and precision. Throughout, we seek to nurture and develop an appreciation for the joy and beauty of mathematics in all St. Mark’s graduates.

The mathematics department has established the following core values: curiosity, tenacity, and clarity. These values inform and guide all that we do. The program has three principal aims: first, to establish skill and confidence in applying mathematical techniques; second, to convey the analytical power of mathematics in modeling practical applications; third, to develop sound reasoning and communication around the logical structure of the subject. The search for patterns, the recognition of analogies, and the development of various strategies for solution provide the student with insight into and understanding of the problem-solving process.

Throughout our curriculum, emphasis is placed on each student doing mathematics. We believe it is essential students actively write and speak their mathematics in order to learn to develop sound mathematical reasoning and communication skills. Graphing calculators and computers are integrated into our teaching as they have become useful in exploring and illustrating mathematical content. TI-83 or TI-84 calculators are required for most classes.

The mathematics department adheres to the following policies for placement of students in courses and in regards to summer or alternative courses.
  • Every new student completes a placement test. A student is placed in a course based on the score on this test, their SSAT score, the student’s prior course work and the teacher recommendation. There is an additional honors placement test for those students deemed qualified to take an honors level course in Algebra II or Precalculus
  • Placement for returning students is based on their performance in their current courses and the recommendation of their teachers. Students recommended for Honors Algebra II or Honors Precalculus take an honors placement test.
  • While students are allowed, and at times, encouraged to do summer work in math, the St. Mark's math department will only grant credit for a summer or alternative course in Geometry. Credit will be earned, only if the student satisfactorily completes the course and passes the St. Mark’s departmental final exam. It is our belief that when studying specific mathematics topics for the first time, students should not expect that a summer course or alternative course will provide them with the necessary depth of understanding of the material. Students who have performed poorly in a course, who wish to preview a topic, or who want enrichment are encouraged to do summer or alternative courses.

From the Classroom