Upper School

An education in four years, but for the next four decades, and beyond.We provide students with the hallmarks of a classic liberal arts education with an emphasis on reflection, collaboration, and grappling with complexity, as they prepare to engage, shape and contribute to an ever-changing world.

Effective learning environments are highly relational. The cornerstone of everything we do in the Upper School is built upon the foundation of the student-teacher relationship. In addition to being experts in their fields, our faculty understand and appreciate the wonder and tensions of adolescence, and they strike the appropriate balance of challenge and support.

As members of classes, advisories, teams, ensembles, clubs, and other community activities, our students are presented with hundreds of opportunities to develop their skills, to expand their horizons, and to pursue their passions. Every student can charter their own unique path through this educational experience.

A couple of students reading a book on bird watching with a teacher outside.
A teacher named Lisa Turner working with a student with other students in the background.

Building on the Quaker Testimony of Community, we promote global exposure and outreach that begins in the classroom, encompasses our city, and expands beyond physical, linguistic, and cultural borders. 

Curricular Highlights

Interdisciplinary coursework. Many Upper School classes are designed to break down barriers and foster collaborative pursuits between disciplines.

Learning beyond the classroom. Upper School students have frequent opportunities to leave campus to engage with and learn from others—in our neighborhood, in our city and through our exchange programs with school communities in China and Argentina.

Innovative Courses. As Penn Charter moves beyond the AP, course syllabi open up to more project-based learning, using the city as the classroom, and collaborations with the Center for Public Purpose. 

Independent Study program. Students can design their own courses in conjunction with a faculty member.

Senior Comprehensive Project. During their final semester, seniors complete a project of their own design, with a focus on Public Purpose and in collaboration with a local organization.


View the 2024-2025 Course List


Learn About Upper School at Penn Charter

Explore Our Upper School Program

High school boy demonstrates a forensic engineering stress test

Independent studies allow students to investigate a topic that they are interested in or passionate about that goes beyond PC’s Upper School course offerings.

Teacher and two students hold class with google meet. Teacher and students in respective homes.

Penn Charter launched its Distance Learning Plan in March 2020, marking a community-wide pivot to new forms of teaching and learning.

For Learning's Sake

The Student Learning Center provides opportunities for teaching and learning in a non-academic, student-led setting.

Athletes Driven to Service

Penn Charter hosts a basketball tournament to benefit Enable Sports and Fitness, a nonprofit established by Laurie and Robert Rosania OPC ’82 to provide fitness and athletic opportunities for youth and young adults with special needs.