Academic Program

Academic Departments

Each academic department has a faculty chair who serves as the academic leader responsible for promoting excellence in teaching and learning. As a subject area specialist, the chair leads the department in curricular reviews to vertically and horizontally align curriculum in grades 4 through 12. Department chairs are responsible for developing new courses and staying on the leading edge of content and pedagogy within the discipline. As lead teachers, department chairs guide department faculty in department goals, planning, and discussions, and provide professional development opportunities that reflect promising practices in instruction within each discipline. All student assessment data, both local and nationally normed, is reviewed by the department chairs in an effort to ameliorate weaknesses and celebrate strengths. Decisions about acceleration, typically in the form of honors and Advanced Placement courses, are made by department chairs.

List of 10 items.

  • Computer Science

    The St. Margaret’s community is empowered by emerging technologies without boundaries, transcending traditional approaches to teaching and learning. Using the design thinking model, we promote experiential, collaborative and creative learning in order to demystify the complexities often associated with technology. Students develop a greater capacity for computational thinking, problem solving, and expanding their competencies to synthesize and communicate ideas, which empowers them to explore and create. In addition, students engage in research and scholarship which will be applied to lifelong pursuits and participation in the global community.

    The Computer Science Department seeks to impart to its students through its curriculum an enduring understanding of specific knowledge, principles, and learning dispositions such as:

    • Select appropriate technologies and critically examine sources.
    • Engage in research and problem-solving, utilizing technologies applicable to each curricular area.
    • Learn in a collaborative community that is connected to the world at large.
    • Become confident in using technologies as a lifelong tool to enhance learning processes.
    • Apply computational thinking strategies for analyzing and developing solutions to problems.
    • Purposeful integration of STEM subjects to enable cross-curricular learning for deeper understanding of subject matter.
    • Demonstrate persistence in working with complex problems.
  • English

    The English Department seeks to develop in each student the ability to write clear and persuasive prose, the skills required to read and interpret literature, and the power to make full use of written and spoken language. We are consistent in our use of the process approach to writing. We help students put their written work through a thoughtful and often time-consuming process of drafting and revision. Through repeated emphasis on critical thinking and writing, students encounter both themselves and differing voices in small group environments that encourage discussion. Through the study of literature, students experience diversity in voice and develop empathy for the alternative narratives of the human experience. In the end, the study of literature invites the ongoing questions: who am I in the world, and what does it mean to be human?

    The English Department seeks to impart to its students through its curriculum an enduring understanding of specific knowledge, principles, and learning dispositions such as:

    • Master the processes of reading, writing, and speaking
    • Analyze texts, interpret, and read for subtexts, hidden meanings, and paradoxes
    • Develop the art of communication and personal expression
    • Read actively and connect to previous knowledge and experience
    • Understand one’s own process of learning
    • Empathize with the stories of others and alternative narratives of human expression
    • Discover and develop insight and personal identity through literature
    • Think critically
  • History & Social Science

    The History Department believes that knowledge of the past is necessary to comprehend the present and to forge the future thoughtfully and deliberately. We foster the sheer enjoyment of the adventure of historical discovery and study, seeing ourselves in the present as interconnected with people of the past – our families, fellow citizens and humanity around the globe. Through the study of history, students will learn foundational content, think carefully and precisely, interpret bias, and articulate thinking in oral and written form. Research of primary documents will foster critical readers who are able to analyze and synthesize data in order to develop and prove a thesis. Small discussion groups and writing workshops help our students to develop an awareness of oneself with the ability to respect, understand, and appreciate differences. In our work as historians, we develop the requisite skills to embrace purposefully life’s journey and challenges as we learn to understand ourselves and humanity.

    The History Department seeks to impart to its students through its curriculum an enduring understanding of specific knowledge, principles, and learning dispositions including ways to:

    • Learn facts, think carefully and precisely, and articulate thinking in oral and written form
    • Conduct research: inquire thoughtfully, read critically, analyze and synthesize data, document findings, format a paper
    • Create and prove a thesis
    • Develop an awareness of oneself and be able to express oneself confidently, while understanding the dangers of ethnocentrism and egocentrism
    • Empathize and respect differences in individuals, communities, religions, values, and cultures of the past, present, and future
    • Take responsibility for cultivating individual character and formation as lifelong learners
  • Mathematics

    It is the belief of the Mathematics Department at St. Margaret’s Episcopal School that mathematics is not an isolated discipline, but rather a necessary tool for understanding many other fields in a rapidly evolving world. While we value the mastery of skills and computational techniques, we stress the understanding of concepts and the significance of results.

    Our instructors create a supportive learning community that encourages collaboration both in and out of the classroom. We motivate our students to persevere through the challenges inherent in a rigorous study of mathematics. We offer an innovative and dynamic environment for the development of mathematics, which is essential for success in an increasingly technological world.

    The Mathematics Department seeks to impart to its students through its curriculum an enduring understanding of specific knowledge, principles, and learning dispositions such as:

    • Achieve computational proficiency and mastery of skills to solve problems in a logical and systematic way
    • Collaborate as a community of learners in the study and application of mathematics
    • Analyze, think, reason, and solve problems critically and conceptually
    • Integrate technology as a tool for exploring and deepening the understanding of mathematics
    • Develop a multi-representational approach to mathematics where results are expressed verbally, analytically, numerically, and graphically
  • Performing Arts

    At St. Margaret’s school, we believe that everyone is on an artistic journey. Through experiences in Dance, Music, and Theater, students discover and nurture the artist within. As students are introduced to the fundamentals of an art form, they learn how to learn. As their skill increases through practice, they become comfortable viewing their own work - as well as the work of others - as a journey, not a destination. We believe that the power of the whole is greater than the sum of its parts. As members of ensembles, students celebrate their own work and the work of their peers. The transforming power of the Arts is vividly experienced as students become conduits, connecting their humanity to generations of artists and audiences.

    The Performing Arts Department seeks to impart to its students through its curriculum an enduring understanding of specific knowledge, principles, and learning dispositions such as:

    • Learn and apply fundamentals skills and techniques such as the reading of music.
    • Understand art as humanity—helps us experience who we are and remember others before us.
    • Appreciate art as a creative and critical process.
    • Experience art as a powerful form of personal communication and expression.
  • Personal Fitness and Wellness

    The philosophy of the Personal Fitness and Wellness Department is based on the belief that an individual’s physical, social and emotional development is as important as their academic growth. The curriculum is designed to provide students with the skills necessary to build a foundation of comprehensive wellness by learning to create and analyze individualized plans. The classes incorporate personal goal setting, exercise physiology, strength training, cardiovascular training, mindfulness, yoga, and interdependent thinking to promote lifelong patterns of healthy behavior.

    The Personal Fitness and Wellness Department seeks to impart to its students through its curriculum an enduring understanding of specific knowledge, principles, and learning dispositions such as:

    • Establish habits for lifelong fitness, well-being and mindfulness
    • Provide character education and personal development opportunities: challenge one’s personal limits and express care and appreciation for others
    • Participate as a member of a team, acquire leadership abilities, understand good citizenship and friendly competition
    • Develop kinesthetic, coordination, and loco-motor skills to play and live actively
    • Instill a love of game; play and sport from both a spectator and participant perspective
  • Religion and Philosophy

    The Religion and Philosophy Department believes that all people are made in the image of God. Our goal as an Episcopal School is to nurture the spiritual development of each person, to welcome everyone into our community, and to seek Jesus Christ in all people, loving our neighbors as ourselves. We seek to live examined lives and explore faith by asking questions, encouraging spirited debate, and instilling a sense of wonder. Through religion classes we develop a deeper understanding of the basic tenants of Christian faith and how course material can help us in everyday life. Exploration of other world religions and philosophies encourages students to understand similarities and differences and the role that faith and religion plays in other countries and cultures.
  • Science

    The Science Department believes that science is a process rooted in curiosity, awe, understanding and respect for the natural world in which we live. Students are encouraged to become autonomous learners in a collaborative environment. We teach students to be critical thinkers who use logic, experimental design, and problem solving as vehicles for discovery. Through a carefully constructed curriculum, our students develop scientific literacy, understand the research process, and hone effective communication skills. We apply the scientific method throughout a student’s experience at St. Margaret’s and empower budding scientists to formulate interesting questions, develop a hypothesis, design an experiment, analyze results, and report a thoughtful conclusion. Our students learn to think logically and critically and to transfer scientific knowledge and skills to other disciplines. It is our hope that students will mature into responsible stewards of the Earth and build lifelong interest in science.

    The Science Department seeks to impart to its students through its curriculum, an enduring understanding of how to approach problems or questions of interest. Our students learn how to:

    • Apply the scientific method
    • Utilize the principles of Design Thinking
    • Build the foundations of scientific literacy and work to make bridges across the curriculum
    • Think logically and critically
    • Become independent learners while recognizing the value of collaboration and communication
    • Make connections to their inner and outer environments
  • Visual Arts

    The Visual Arts Department believes the arts are of central importance to the education of the whole student. At the core of the St. Margaret’s art experience is developing ones personal passions. In a studio art environment students learn an array of mental habits such as visual-spatial abilities, reflection, self-criticism, and the willingness to experiment and learn from mistakes. Balance between process and product, tradition and innovation and understanding the art world presently and historically are essential to educating both the hearts and minds of our students.

    The Visual Arts Department seeks to impart to its students through its curriculum an enduring understanding of specific knowledge, principles, and learning dispositions such as:

    • Express idea, emotion and/or mood while cultivating personal voice
    • Explore and use a variety of media while developing craft
    • Self-evaluate, discuss, and critique individual and class projects
    • Make individual aesthetic decisions and judgments related to their own artwork
    • Understand art-making conceptually and through design elements
    • Develop innovative artistic techniques while working within an art tradition
    • Appreciate past and present artists and art movements
    • Strive for excellence through practice, patience and persistence
  • World Languages

    The World Languages Department prepares students, both linguistically and culturally, to communicate in a pluralistic global society. We develop command of the language using a communicative approach with emphasis on reading, writing, speaking, and listening (interpersonal, presentational and interpretive). Teaching culture is an important and integral part of our curriculum because it promotes an increased sensitivity and respect for people from diverse backgrounds whose language and customs differ from one’s own. We expect students to become proficient in at least one of the classical or modern languages offered by the end of high school.
    The World Languages Department seeks to impart to its students through its curriculum an enduring understanding of specific knowledge, principles, and learning dispositions such as:

    • Be active communicators appropriately proficient in reading, writing, listening, and speaking
    • Be culturally sensitive and globally aware of the Hellenistic and Roman influences on Western civilization, culture and languages
    • Become lifelong learners with an appreciation of other cultures and languages both modern and ancient
    • Know when and where to say what to whom

    Graduation Requirement: Three years, completion through Level III of the same world language. At least two years must be completed in grades 9-12. 
    Students must receive a grade of at least C- for the second semester in order to continue on to the next level of language study. 
    To ensure the proper placement of all students, it is important that a student take a placement exam.

View Curriculum and Faculty By Division

Department Chairs

List of 10 members.

  • Angela Mackenzie 

    Director Educational Technology and Library; Department Chair
  • Peter "Pete" Clark 

    US English; Department Chair
  • Kristina Taylor 05

    US History & Social Science; US Yearbook; Department Chair
  • Elizabeth O'Shea 

    US Mathematics; Department Chair
  • Daniel "Dan" Pacheco 

    Director of Performing Arts; Department Chair
  • Joshua Markum 

    Assistant Athletic Director; PFW Department Chair; Head Varsity Girls Basketball Coach
  • Robert Edwards 

    Rector SMEC; Head of Chaplains
  • Edmund Herlihy 

    US Science; Department Chair; Swimming & Diving Coach
  • Jesse Standlea 

    US & MS Visual Arts; Department Chair
  • Bryan Sullivan 

    US World Languages; Department Chair
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An Independent Preschool Through Grade 12 College-Preparatory Day School in Orange County California

Non-Discrimination Policy
St. Margaret's Episcopal School does not discriminate on the basis of gender, race, color, religion, sexual orientation or national and ethnic origin in the administration of its educational, admission, financial aid, hiring and athletic policies or in other school-administered programs.