Academics & ESL

Idyllwild Arts Academy


Pablo Picasso, who revolutionized twentieth-century art, once said this about his work:

What do you think an artist is? An imbecile who has only eyes if he’s a painter. . . ? On the contrary, he’s at the same time a political being, constantly alive to heartrending, fiery, or happy events, to which he responds in every way.

At Idyllwild we agree that the best art is made by people who are well informed about the world. We offer first-class academics because we think the best education happens when imagination is valued and where creativity is recognized as a path to open minded thinking and critical analysis.

Idyllwild Arts students grow to understand that creative passion enriches our lives wherever we live them: in dialogue with fellow artists, with a patient, in the courtroom, in government service—even in the deceptively simple interaction with one’s own children.

More specifically, the Academy’s graduation requirements prepare students for any institution of higher learning of their choice. Honors levels are offered in all subjects in order to offer a competitive college preparatory curriculum and to challenge students to push beyond minimal academic expectations.

Typical Course Loads for Grade Levels:

The ESL Department, offers a comprehensive ESL curriculum that ranges from beginning foundational course to advanced level courses.
The goal of the ESL department is to fully prepare students for mainstream courses and higher education beyond the high school. For more information about ESL courses, please direct your questions to ESL Department Chair, Leah Bosworth (

Freshman Course Load:

  • English 9
  • World Language (French or Spanish–students are placed according to their level at their previous school )
  • World Cultures
  • Math (students are placed according to their level at their previous school)
  • Movement and Wellness (PE)–Life Skills once a week

Sophomore Course Load:

  • English 10 (Honors offered)
  • World Language (French or Spanish–students are placed according to their level at their previous school)
  • Modern World History (Honors offered)
  • Biology
  • Math (students are placed according to their level at their previous school)
  • Movement and Wellness (PE)–Life Skills once a week

Junior Course Load:

  • English 11 (Honors offered)
  • U.S. History (Honors offered)
  • World Language (It is recommended that students continue in French or Spanish beyond Level II)
  • Math (Students are encouraged to continue beyond Algebra II)
  • Chemistry (Honors offered) or Physics (Honors offered)
  • Life Skills (once a week) to prepare for college

Senior Course Load

(four academic courses recommended in senior year)

  • English Elective (one per semester)
  • U.S. Government and Economics (one semester)/Social Science (one semester)
  • Science (students encouraged to take a third year of a lab science: Advanced Biology, Chemistry, or Physics
  • Students are encouraged to continue in Math–Pre-Calculus (Honors), Calculus I or II (Honors), or Statistics
  • Life Skills (once a week) working on college applications

Course Enrollment

Each spring returning students register for academic classes for the next academic year. Sequential courses and Honors courses are recommended by the students’ current teachers and additional elective courses are chosen by students to complete their programs. Current parents or students may contact the Academy during the summer if there is a need to change course selections.

New students should read the curriculum guide carefully and complete the Pre-registration Form. New students may be given placement tests in math and foreign language during student orientation to determine placement in required or sequential courses.

During his or her admission process, every international student is given an English-skills assessment supervised by the Chair of our English as a Second Language Department. The assessment, which takes place on Skype or during the student’s campus visit, ensures correct placement in Beginning ESL, Intermediate ESL, Advanced ESL, or mainstream courses.

Graduation Requirements

Because the Academy teaches grades nine through twelve and some post-graduates, individual programs ranging from one to four years in length may be created. A student’s course of study consists of the arts classes needed for his or her chosen discipline and also the following graduation requirements, which satisfy the University of California’s admission requirements.

English: Four years

History/Social Studies: Three years (World History, U.S. History, Government and Economics/Social Science)

Foreign Language: Two years (consecutive years in the same language)

Mathematics: Three years (Algebra I, Geometry, Algebra II)

Science: Two years (Biology and either Chemistry or Physics)

Physical Education: Two years

All academic courses are full-year (two-semester) courses counting for .5 credit per semester, unless otherwise specified.

Another admission requirement of the University of California is one year of Visual and Performing Arts. An Idyllwild student’s course of study in his or her chosen arts discipline will greatly exceed this UC requirement.


Sophomores and juniors are required to take the PSAT (Preliminary Scholastic Assessment Test) in October and juniors the SAT I (Scholastic Assessment Test) in May. Seniors take the SAT I in October and are encouraged to take the SAT II (previously known as Achievement Tests) in December.

All International students whose native language is not English are also required to take the TOEFL (Test of English as a Foreign Language) in both their junior and senior years.

ACTs are available and are offered several times throughout the fall, as noted on the school calendar.

Students interested in taking Advanced Placement exams may register for the tests offered in May.

A Typical Day

The Academy operates on a 15-week semester. Although most academic courses are year-long, individual departments do offer semester courses for those whose programs permit. The daily schedule consists of morning academic classes and afternoon arts classes.

A typical day begins with breakfast from 7:15 a.m. to 8:00 a.m., followed by academics until 1:00 p.m., then lunch followed by arts classes until 6:30 p.m. Dinner from 6:00 p.m. to 7:30 p.m. is followed by rehearsals or performances from 7:00 p.m. to 10:00 p.m. and study/quiet hours from 8:50 p.m. to 10:00 p.m. Students must be in their dorms by 10:00 p.m. with lights out by 10:30 p.m.


Building a Strong Mathematical Foundation

IAA’s Mathematics Department teaches a sequence of courses from Algebra through the second year of Calculus. Core math classes required for graduation and university admission are Algebra I, Geometry, and Algebra II.

Our math teachers focus on group work and practical problem-solving. Careful sequencing of courses means that a student needs to master the material in one course before moving on to the next.

The program satisfies the new National Standards of Mathematics required by the state of California.

Math Faculty
Math/Science Chair and Math/Science Faculty
Math and Science Faculty / Dorm Parent
Math and Science Faculty / Dorm Parent
Math Faculty / Dorm Parent
PT Math Faculty
Math and Science Faculty / MacNeal Dorm Head

Unlocking Mysteries of the Natural World

Our Science Department prepares students to take part in an increasingly complex technological society. Our hands-on courses–approved by the University of California–teach scientific literacy, critical thinking, and problem-solving skills.

Science Faculty
Math/Science Chair and Math/Science Faculty
Math and Science Faculty / Dorm Parent
Math and Science Faculty / Dorm Parent
Science Faculty / Dorm Parent
Math and Science Faculty / MacNeal Dorm Head

Educating the Citizen-Artist

The Humanities classroom provides the groundwork for an education of the citizen-artist, a person who expands the diversity of civic discourse, re-imagines the creative arts, and succeeds in any profession in the 21st century. To this end, humanities faculty support students as they cultivate the primary skills of communication, critical thinking, creativity, collaboration, and community-engagement. Corresponding to this skill development, students also engage content and process personal choices in relation to the grade-level values of empathy, respect, responsibility, and integrity. Thus, the department prepares students to engage thoughtfully in the global marketplace, the public square, and the interdependent creative work-space of the 21st century.

Humanities Grade-Level Values

9th Grade History/English: Empathy

To encourage understanding of oneself and others; to foster an appreciation of unique identities; and to develop the capacity to imagine one’s own experiences within a complex world.

10th Grade History/English: ​Respect

To perceive distinct political, economic, religious, and aesthetic viewpoints; to critically question ideas in order to better understand these viewpoints; and to navigate qualitative differences between viewpoints over time.

11th Grade History/English: ​Responsibility

To inspire a commitment to a cause and other people; to engage critically the gravity of consequences; and to nurture a mindful independence within a diverse community.

12th Grade History/English: ​Integrity

To recognize an accumulated body of knowledge and creative expertise of one’s own and of others; to measure the contemporary value of one’s work in a complex world; and to present one’s distinct interpretations of their work in the world to a public audience.

Humanities Faculty
Humanities Chair
Humanities Faculty
Humanities Faculty
Humanities Faculty
Humanities & Creative Writing Faculty / Dorm Parent
Humanities Faculty / Pierson Dorm Head
Humanities Faculty / Small Dorms & Spruce Dorm Head
Modern Languages

Many curricula changes and classroom changes are happening for the 2017-2018 school year!

The Modern Language Department offers five levels of study in Spanish and French. We are hoping to offer a basic conversational Chinese (Mandarin) in the spring, and only as an elective credit. Students who already have met their basic foreign language requirements are eligible to take such class.

Basic Requirements:

For the student who is interested in fulfilling his/her high school foreign language credits for graduation, and reach beginning proficiency, students need to take Level 1 and Level 2 (one year each) of either Spanish or French. Two years total requirement in the same language are needed per California State Law.

Further Study:

For those students who want to further and deepen their foreign language skills and reach intermediate to advanced proficiency, the following courses are offered in both Spanish and French languages:

Honors Level 2

Level 3

Level 4

Level 5 with AP support per individual student request

In levels 3, 4, and 5 we encourage interdisciplinary collaboration across departments to augment the basic foreign language curriculum. Departmental collaborations have occurred with the Visual Arts, Art History and Theater Arts Departments. More collaboration with the Music and Dance departments will occur within the year.

The Modern Language Department is enacting 21st century teaching strategies:

The Department underscores the four basic skills needed in the learning of a foreign language. Using Blended Model pedagogy, the classroom will be divided into structural pods with collaborative centers to facilitate writing, reading, listening and conversational skills. The focus will be on TPRS (storytelling –oral performance), exposure to cultural expressions of the francophone and Hispanic world, and listening comprehension audio/visual programs. Weekly participation during dinner time on Mondays with “Platicas” (in Spanish) and Tuesdays with “Cercle de Français” (in French) open to any student, staff and community member is encouraged. Students will be in charge of presenting any type of news in the target language. We are also sponsoring trips to France and Spain during Spring Breaks. Our mission is to encourage students to develop habits of mind that will foster personal transformation, spark critical thinking, and embrace an awareness of social justice with compassion and understanding in the world.

Modern Languages Faculty
Modern Language Chair - Spanish / Dorm Parent
Modern Language Faculty - French
Foreign Language Assistant Teacher
English as a Second Language (ESL)

Our ESL program immerses international students in an all-English classroom environment. Whether in Beginning, Intermediate, or Advanced courses, class size is limited so that teachers can give individual attention to every student.

The ESL Department strongly encourages an English-only policy in all IAA academic and arts classes. It’s obvious that talking only in English will speed up one’s learning of the language— but it will also show respect for the many IAA community members who understand no language except for English!

International students who welcome the English-only idea will mix more easily with IAA’s wider student population. And, in time, they will gain enough confidence in English to make them comfortable with American academic and artistic culture.

The grade and ESL levels of new international students are determined by our own comprehensive English-skills test (usually given during a Skype interview), supervised by the ESL Department Chair. A student must earn an average grade of at least C- (70%) in each ESL class before moving up to the next ESL level.

Our ESL students satisfy all graduation requirements, as prescribed by the University of California Admissions Standards and outlined in our Student-Parent Handbook.

ESL Summer Intensive Program


Idyllwild Arts Campus – Located in the beautiful mountains of Southern California


Sunday, July 8, 2018 – Arrival (Registration 11am-4pm)
Saturday, August 18, 2018 – Departure (Travel Day)


$10,500 (Tuition, Room, and Board)
*Does not include the required health insurance coverage which will be purchased for your child through the Idyllwild Arts Health Center.

Registration opens in November 1, 2017

Please contact Leah Bosworth with questions:

This Rigorous Six-Week English Program:

  • Emphasizes academic language skills AND basic interpersonal communication
  • Increases proficiency in academics and the TOEFL exam
  • Builds confidence and comfort with the English language
  • Is taught by experienced and engaging Idyllwild Arts Academy ESL faculty
  • Includes proctored study hours daily

Enjoy fun weekly off-campus trips to Southern California’s best museums, theaters, amusement parks, beaches, shopping malls and more!

ESL Brochure
Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ’s)
General Weekly Schedule

ESL Faculty
ESL Chair / Dorm Parent
ESL Faculty / Dorm Parent
ESL Faculty
ESL Faculty
ESL Faculty
2017 Required Summer Reading

Summer 2018 Required ESL Reading

ESL Summer Reading 2018 (All Levels)

For questions regarding ESL Reading, please contact
Leah Bosworth at

Summer 2018 Required Spanish / French Reading

Spanish / French Required Review 2018

For questions regarding Spanish / French Reading, please contact
Mary Aebischer PhD at

Preparing for Math


The January “Intermester” program is inserted between the semesters, replacing the first week of the second semester and allowing time for the exploration of subjects and projects that can’t be worked into our semesters. Our teachers create curriculum around topics that interest them and that let students step outside their arts major or their standard academic program. A writer might take hip-hop, a musician might take beginning drawing, a film-maker might act on the stage, and so on. These things take place during our normal academic morning time, while the afternoons are time for specialized arts training within a major through guest masterclasses and special projects. So Intermester gives our already creative students a chance to stretch themselves even further.

Support Systems

For any challenge a student may experience at Idyllwild Arts, we have a staff or faculty member ready to help.


The role of the advisor is to provide support and guidance in all areas of boarding school life; review grade reports and check on classroom progress as needed; communicate with the advisees and their families regarding class work and review progress within the major. Advisors meet with their advisees at least once a week.

Resource Center

The Resource Center is staffed by a full-time faculty member who provides individual and small group tutoring for students needing extra support in their academic courses. A student may be assigned to the Resource Center on a regular basis by the Dean of Academics or may drop in on occasion for extra help.

Faculty Office Hours

Each academic faculty member holds regularly scheduled office hours Monday through Thursday during the X-block from 10:55-11:35 a.m. Students are encouraged to seek assistance from their teachers as needed. Attendance may be mandated for any student who is struggling or needs extra help to make up missing work.

SAT Review

A few weeks before the spring administration of the SATs, all juniors have the opportunity to attend a seminar dealing with the upcoming College Board examinations. The review courses familiarize students with the exam format and content. There is no SAT prep before the fall test date. Due to IAA’s late school start students who feel they require more preparation are recommended to attend summer SAT prep courses. Students may also use the SAT preparation computer program in the Computer Lab.

College Counseling

The College Counselors works directly with each senior and his/her parents. In conjunction with the faculty, they facilitate the college admission process by providing guidance in choosing appropriate colleges and/or conservatories. They also aid in obtaining and completing application materials. In addition, the arts faculty provide direction in the students’ preparation of auditions and portfolios.


The 9,700 square-foot Krone Library is the school’s research facility, housing a computer center, an extensive music library and listening room, and special collections in art, dance and theatre. In addition, there are many books written especially for ESL students. The library subscribes to foreign newspapers upon request. There is a listening lab with a collection of records, discs, and tapes for students’ daily use, and faculty and students have access to eight file cabinets of music. Also, photocopiers are located in the library for both faculty and student use.

The librarian and her assistants staff the library from 7:30 a.m. to 10 p.m. Monday through Friday with somewhat reduced hours on the weekends.

If students need additional research material, they may use the library’s interlibrary loan service to borrow materials from California libraries that are members of the Online Computer Library Center (OCLC) California Resource Sharing Network (XPRS).

Practice Rooms & Studios

Practice rooms and studios are available for student use.

Scholastic Honors

National Honor Society

Idyllwild Arts Academy is pleased be affiliated with the prestigious National Honors Society. This is an exciting opportunity for current and prospective students to showcase their achievements in the areas of scholarship, leadership, community service, and character development. Induction ceremonies take place at the beginning of each semester.

Idyllwild Arts Chapter Adviser: Kim Henderson

Faculty Council: Karin Obermeier, Bonnie Carpenter, Maygen Sandrini, Merria Iaccino

Idyllwild Arts students interested in becoming members of NHS should read the NHS Membership Criteria below, then complete the activity and character evaluations and submit all materials by the deadline for consideration.

NHS Membership Criteria
NHS Activity Form
Character Evaluations

Deans' List and Honor Roll

At the end of each semester, the faculty recognizes significant scholastic achievement among the students by publishing a Deans’ List and Honor Roll. These lists are designed to identify, praise and encourage those students who have worked diligently and distinguished themselves with noteworthy scholastic records.

Students are named to the Deans’ List for outstanding scholastic performance. To qualify, students must attain a grade point average of at least 3.7 (on a 4.0 scale) with no grades below B- in all their courses, both arts and academics.

Students are named to the Honor Roll for excellent scholastic performance. To qualify, students must attain a grade point average of at least 3.3 (on a 4.0 scale) with no more than one grade below B- in any course and no grades below C- in all their courses, both arts and academics.

College Counseling

In keeping with the mission of Idyllwild Arts Academy, the College Counseling office helps students discover their aspirations as artists, scholars, and individuals.

Our students are creative in their educational pursuits, and we value that approach in the search for a college, conservatory, or university. The college application process is a means of self discovery that begins long before filling out an application; from day one, we encourage students to reflect on their strengths, interests, talents, and personalities while exploring the options for their future.

The College Counselors meet frequently with students in a variety of forums. Individual meetings with a counselor are essential; additionally, students attend group meetings, seminars, presentations, and workshops that offer support during the college application process. Within their arts major, students also take a Senior Seminar, which provides instruction and feedback for portfolios and auditions. Faculty members help students to coordinate and plan audition tapes, travel, and schedules. Each year, our Theatre department seniors travel with faculty to the Chicago Unified Auditions; the Visual Arts and InterArts departments travel to Portfolio Days; and students in all departments regularly attend competitions, lectures, and showcases that present them with opportunities at the next level.

While many are singularly focused on the results of the college application process, we emphasize the importance of the process. We begin our program during freshman year, introducing students to the notion of self-awareness and self-advocacy. Ninth grade students should begin thinking about what they want and need from their education. In the sophomore year, students explore new opportunities to add depth to their educational experience. By the time students reach their junior year, we expect them to research schools, prepare for standardized testing, and challenge themselves in their studies.

As seniors prepare their college applications, we work with them in a supportive, caring, realistic manner. Our team includes our outstanding faculty, whose knowledge of particular programs and instructors can provide invaluable insight. Most importantly, we guide students as they make their first step into adulthood; as a culmination of their positive personal growth, seniors should articulate who they are and what they stand for. This awareness will serve our students well as they commence their postsecondary education. When it’s time to leave the mountain, Idyllwild Arts graduates offer colleges and the world their unique perspective and individuality.

Counselors & Support Staff
Director of College Counseling
College Counselor / Pierson Dorm Head
SAT Review

In February, IAA offers a three-day intensive SAT preparation class, taught by Perspective Educational Services. This makes students familiar with the exam format and content and teaches test-taking strategies. For more SAT review, we recommend summer SAT prep courses and the College Board’s email program, which sends daily practice questions.

Standardized Testing

IAA offers the SAT, ACT, PSAT, and AP tests on campus. Our test-center coordinator, Sabrina Bowles, works with all aspects of testing. Please address your standardized testing questions to her at

College Acceptances - Class of 2017

Agnes Scott College
Alfred University
Alonzo King LINES Ballet Training Program
American Academy of Dramatic Arts
American Musical and Dramatic Academy
American University of Paris
Arcadia University
Arizona State University
Art Center College of Design
Avans University of Applied Sciences
Baldwin Wallace University
Bard College
Baruch College, CUNY
Bates College
Belmont University
Beloit College
Bennington College
Berklee College of Music
Boston Conservatory
Boston University
Brown University
Butler University
Callifornia Institute of the Arts
California Polytechnic State University, Pomona
California State University, Fullerton
California State University, Long Beach
California State University, Los Angeles
California State University, Monterey Bay
California State University, Northridge
Capilano University
Carnegie Mellon University
Castleton University
Central Saint Martins, University of the Arts London
Centro de DiSeño, Cine y Television
Chapman University
Chicago College of Performing Arts, Roosevelt University
Clark Atlanta University
Clark University
Cleveland Institute of Music
Collaborative Arts Project 21 Conservatory
College for Creative Studies
College Conservatory of Music, University of Cincinnati
Colorado School of Mines
Columbia College Chicago
Columbia College Hollywood
Connecticut College
Cornell University
Cornish College of the Arts
Creighton University
Denison University
Dominican University
Doshisha University
Earlham College
Elon University
Emerson College
Emily Carr University of Art and Design
Eugene Lang College
Fashion Institute of Technology
Fisk University
Florida International University
Florida Southern College
Fordham University
Frost School of Music, University of Miami
Furman University
George Mason University
Glorya Kaufman School of Dance, University of Southern California
Goldsmiths, University of London
Goucher College
Hamburg Ballet School
Hampshire College
Hiram College
Hobart and William Smith College
Hollins University
Howard University
Humboldt State University
Indiana University
Instituto Marangoni
Ithaca College
Kansas City Art Institute
Kingston University
Lafayette College
Lawrence University
Leeds College of Music
Lewis and Clark College
Liverpool Institute for the Performing Arts
London College of Fashion, University of the Arts London
Longy School of Music of Bard College
Loyola Marymount University
Loyola University New Orleans
Maryland Institute College of Art
Marymount California University
Marymount Manhattan College
Marymount Manhattan College
McGill University
Minneapolis College of Art and Design
Montana State University
Montclair State University
New England Conservatory
New England Conservatory of Music
The New School for Drama
The New School for Jazz and Contemporary Music
The New School of Jazz
New York Conservatory for Dramatic Arts
New York Institute of Technology
New York University
Nicholls State University

Northern Arizona University
Northern Illinois University
Oberlin Conservatory of Music
Oklahoma City University
Oklahoma State University
Otis College of Art and Design
Otterbein University
Pace University
Paris College of Art
Parsons The New School for Design
Peabody Institute of Johns Hopkins University
Pepperdine University
Point Park University
Point Park University
Pratt Institute
Purchase College, SUNY
Reed College
Regis University
Rhode Island School of Design
Rider University
Ringling College of Art & Design
Ripon College
Rochester Institute of Technology
Roosevelt University, Chicago College of Performing Arts
Royal Welsh College of Music and Drama
Rutgers University
Saint Mary’s College of California
San Diego State University
San Francisco Art Institute
San Francisco Conservatory of Music
San Francisco State University
San Jose State
Santa Clara University
Santa Fe University of Art and Design
Sarah Lawrence College
Savannah College of Art and Design
School of the Art Institute of Chicago
School of the Museum of Fine Arts, Boston
School of Visual Arts
Seattle Pacific University
Seton Hill University
Sewanee: The University of the South
Sophia University
Southern California Institute of Architecture
Spelman College
St. John’s College
St. John’s University
St. Lawrence University
St. Olaf College
State University of New York, Albany
State University of New York, Plattsburgh
Stevens Institute of Technology
SUNY, Buffalo
Syracuse University
Texas Christian University
Texas State University
Thomas College
University of Alabama
University of Arizona
University of British Columbia
University of California, Berkeley
University of California, Davis
University of California, Irvine
University of California, Los Angeles
University of California, Riverside
University of California, San Diego
University of California, Santa Barbara
University of California, Santa Cruz
University of Cincinnati
University of Colorado, Boulder
University of Colorado, Denver
University of Denver
University of Hartford, Hartt School of Music
University of Illinois, Chicago
University of Illinois, Urbana-Champaign
University of Iowa
University of LaVerne
University of Miami
University of Michigan
University of Minnesota
University of Minnesota, Twin Cities
University of Montana, Missoula
University of North Texas
University of Oklahoma
University of Pittsburgh
University of Pittsburgh
University of Portland
University of Puget Sound
University of Redlands
University of San Francisco
University of Southern California
University of the Arts
University of the Arts, London
University of Utah
University of Victoria
University of Washington
University of Wisconsin, Madison
Ursinus College
Wagner College
Washington College
Webster University
Western Washington University
Willamette University
Woodbury University
York University


Edline ( is our web-based grade reporting system which links to Easy Grade Pro, the electronic grade book that teachers use for course grading and attendance. All students and parents receive log-in codes and have access to the student’s Edline account. Grades, comments, and attendance are posted regularly and uploaded in real time and can be accessed 24 hours a day. Also, both parent and student email addresses should be linked to this account so that teachers can email directly through Edline with important updates. The Edline account is valid and active throughout the student’s years of attendance at Idyllwild Arts Academy and does not need to be reactivated each year. Log in passwords also do not change from year to year.

Due to the accessibility of grade information throughout the school year on Edline, we do not mail grade reports home except at the end of the spring semester. It is therefore expected that all students and parents regularly check Edline to monitor progress. If parents have questions about grades in Edline, we encourage parents to first discuss with the student and then directly contact the teacher and/or the advisor if you have questions.

Please contact Elaine Huddleston, the Registrar, if you lose/forget your login password or have questions regarding how to use Edline.


Transcripts are generated upon request for students applying to post-secondary schools, summer programs, and other schools requiring grade and enrollment documentation. Please email Elaine Huddleston, Registrar, to request a transcript. Please provide a full address and to whose attention the transcript should be sent.