Core Curriculum

Birchwood School of Hawken has built its superior academic curriculum upon history, contemporary research and benchmarks derived from premiere academic programs in the United States. This approach allows us to borrow the best academic programming from history while having the flexibility to improve our educational content and strategies as scientific research and real-world practice unfold new possibilities.

Knowing the importance of history, Birchwood has learned from those elements of education that helped produce great scientists, mathematicians, historians, and writers. Great education is not a mystery nor is it a new phenomenon. History shows us recurring themes of good education. It teaches us how masters learned their subject matter and made significant contributions to their discipline. A historical assessment of educational history is a starting point for superior academic programming.

Contemporary research supports and enhances what we learn from history. Its scientific findings can confirm the lessons of history. They can also lead to innovative methodology and practice. Research in brain function, social and emotional development, motivation and competency, and self-determination helped us hone our curriculum and classroom conventions.

In our quest to build a superior academic curriculum, Birchwood looks to academic excellence in schools and curricular programming across the United States. We often ask, “Where are the standards of excellence in mathematics, science, history, and writing?” or “Where can we find superior academic performance?” We unabashedly borrow great ideas from curricular innovations or classroom practices that have fostered exemplary academic achievement.

At Birchwood, building a superior academic curriculum is our passion. It demands all of our energies and expects us to improve year after year.

From the roles of cardinal virtues, expectations and achievements in education, to the importance of nurturing creativity, innovation and self-esteem, co-founder and head of school, Charles Debelak has written a book that explores what makes “great kids” great and gives parents, caregivers and educators a roadmap to guide their children to well-rounded, well-earned success. “Education and Character: Essays from the Birchwood Clipboard” is a series of informative and encouraging essays that delivers original insights and ideas on education and character building. This reader-friendly text is available at


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Birchwood School in Cleveland Core Curriculum

We feel indebted to Birchwood’s faculty for instilling a love of learning in our children. We are confident that sending our children to Birchwood was one of the best educational investments we could have made as parents.


Chen Lung & Litao Hsieh –

Birchwood Parents