The first day of classes is right around the corner and excitement for the upcoming school year continues to build at The Storm King School. According to SKS’ Dean of Academics Dr. Tim Lance, students will benefit from several new additions and improvements to the School’s academic program and schedule this year.

“Administration and faculty have been working over the summer to review each department’s course offerings, fine-tune the class schedule based on feedback from last year, and register everyone for their classes. When students arrive later this month, they will see some new additions and changes to the program,” explains Dr. Lance.

Focus on Health

One important change is the addition of health-focused curricula for students in the 9th grade. “The class will cover the basics of health including good nutrition, physical fitness, overall wellness, and various concepts surrounding mental and emotional health,” continues Dr. Lance. “Among other areas, students will examine ways that their physical, mental, and emotional well-being can be affected during their teenage years, and be introduced to strategies for dealing with stress, managing conflicts, and developing healthy relationships. Students who enroll at Storm King after their freshman year will also have a chance to take the class during their junior year.”

Evolution of the Capstone

Another important change for upperclassmen is a revised Capstone project offering. The updated Capstone takes the form of an independent research project bridging a student’s junior and senior years. Interested students will spend the fall semester of their junior year demonstrating their capabilities in the classroom as well as completing an application process for entry into the course with a subject of their choice. Those who are approved to undertake a Capstone Project will begin their work and research in the spring of their junior year, continue through the summer, and complete their projects in the fall of their senior year. During the length of the project, students will work closely with a course instructor and faculty “experts” who have advanced knowledge of the proposed topic of study.

“The curricular process for the Capstone draws on our past experience with these independent studies and is also informed by the College Board’s new Advanced Placement Capstone Program,” explains Dr. Lance. “While this is not an AP offering now, we will continue to study that program and may opt to create an AP version of the Capstone in the future.”

Dr. Lance explains that the bridge nature of the program will also facilitate students’ outreach into the community–another important benefit. “Based on the project design, students can utilize the summer between their junior and senior year to extend or apply their research, or create a product or products. Students would then return to SKS in the fall as seniors, and the focus would shift to finalizing the project, completing a course-specific research paper, and presenting their work to a selected committee. The timing of the study would also allow seniors to include the project in their applications for college,” continues Dr. Lance.

Advanced Topics in Math

Another exciting change is waiting for students who are interested in math this fall–an Advanced Topics in Math course designed to explore the realm of high-level math in preparation for college. The class will be offered to seniors in the spring semester who’ve completed Advanced Calculus–SKS’ highest-level math course. “The objective of the course is to give students who are already doing math at a high level an added advantage while preparing for college,” explains Dr. Lance, who is also SKS’ math department chair. “The instructor will focus on free-flow topics to ensure students are proficient at working with multivariable calculus, linear algebra, ordinary differential equations, elementary abstract algebra, group theory, and topology. This will open a window into the expansive world of collegiate-level mathematics,” says Dr. Lance. “Another important dimension to the class is the requirement that these students will work as peer tutors for those studying lower levels of math–a good way for them to apply and reinforce skills they’ve learned previously.”

“I think this is a very exciting time at SKS. We have a new platform, an energized, open-minded faculty, and we’re in the second year of our revised schedule. This new collegiate schedule model has allowed for greater depth and breadth in curriculum, more flexibility with advanced courses, and more contact time with students. We’ve made a few small adjustments based on feedback from last year, so the fall semester promises to be even better. I’m looking forward to working with our new and returning students in the weeks to come,” continues Dr. Lance.

About the Dean of Academics

Dean of Academics and Math Department Chair Tim Lance, PhD, has been a member of the faculty at SKS since 2015. An Albany native, Dr. Lance finished his PhD in pure mathematics in 2006 and taught at Francis Marion University in South Carolina for five years before transferring to the boarding school world. He then taught advanced mathematics at Berkshire School, where he acted as a research mentor in the Advanced Math & Science Research program, lived in the dorms and assistant coached the boy’s crew team. He joined The Storm King School community in 2015 when he accepted the position of Mathematics Department Chair. At Storm King, he is the head coach of the crew team and also coaches Girls Varsity Basketball. Dr. Lance lives on campus at Brogan House with his wife Kelly and son Jackson.