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St. Jerome Institute

Year One

Year I: Exodus and Odyssey: Human Life as Quest

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The search for truth has been dramatically depicted down the centuries in the image of life as a quest that is simultaneously a journey of self-discovery and a test of character. In this vision of life, a great deal depends on both the road we choose and how we travel down that road.

- St. Jerome Institute Educational Plan

In the first year, students confront human life as a journey, quest or pilgrimage. The works studied and the questions considered are selected to bring this theme to life, to develop students’ sense of longing and adventure, and to encourage them to wrestle with the epic themes of home, belonging, seeking, and discovery.

Book List for the Seminar in Humanities

The Seminar in Humanities introduces the theme of human life as a journey or quest through the close reading of literature that explores this idea in various ways.

Quarter 1
  • Selections from: 
    • The Wanderer
    • The Seafarer
    • The Dream of the Rood
    • Augustine’s Confessions
    • Plato’s Allegory of the Cave
  • Odyssey
  • Euthyphro
  • Genesis
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Quarter 2
  • City of God (selections)
  • Aeneid
  • Apology
  • Exodus
  • Cynewulf’s Crist
Quarter 3
  • Icelandic Sagas (selections)
  • Beowulf
  • Crito
  • Song of Roland
  • Gospel of Luke
Quarter 4
  • Selections from:
    • Moby Dick
    • Revelation
  • Old Man and the Sea
  • Phaedo
  • Acts
  • The Little Way

Unit Outline for the Seminar in Mathematics

The Seminar in Mathematics simultaneously explores the critical concepts used in the description of the world and lays a foundation for more sophisticated mathematical thinking. In the first year, illustrations and applications are focused on those used for navigation, knowing one’s location, making measurements, and describing the world.

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Unit 1: Change, value and measurement
Numbers and number systems; bases; place value and exponents; cardinality

Unit 2: Ratios
Fractions and harmonics; rational and irrational; pi and phi; Fibonacci and the Golden Ratio; right triangle trigonometry

Unit 3: Variables, expressions and equations
Algebraic expressions and equations; techniques for solving equations; proof in algebra

Unit 4: Maps and plots
Graphical addition of vectors; projections; coordinates and basis; projections in maps

Unit 5: Functions
Relations and functions; domain and range; composition and inverse; graphical representation

Unit 6: Constants, lines, linear relationships
Constant rate of change; equations of the line; modeling linear relationships; non-linear relationships

Unit 7: Quadratic relationships
Product of binomials; factoring quadratic expressions; techniques for solving quadratic equations; graphing and applying transforms to quadratics; intro to parabolas

Unit 8: The Art of Mathematics
Selections from Euclid’s Elements, Book I, studied throughout the year

Seminar in Art History

The following list shows examples of works that students considered as part of the Seminar in Art History. This seminar also includes readings and field study that are not detailed here, as well as homework assignments that include both reading and drawing exercises.

Sample Works Studied
  • Durer, “Hare”
  • Ghent Altarpiece, “Sacrifice of the Lamb”
  • Selections, Egyptian, Greek, and Roman art
  • St. Mary Major
  • Sarcophagus
  • Selections, Gothic stained glass
  • Chartres Cathedral
  • Selections, Giotto and Dante
  • Brunelleschi and Ghiberti, “The Sacrifice of Isaac”
  • Michelangelo, “Pieta”
  • Selections, Raphael
  • Selections, Titian and Tintoretto
  • Selections, Holbein and Bruegel
  • David, “The Death of Marat”
  • Bernini, “The Ecstasy of St. Teresa”
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The SJI Curriculum Plan says of the Practicum: “Practicum provides time and opportunity to realize the beauty of mundane work alongside skilled adults who know the work well. The more invested we become in our communities by helping to maintain and build them up, the deeper our respect and love for those communities grows.” It is through learning practical skills that our students learn how to give service, how to work together, and how to build a vital community.

Selection of Practicum Activities
  • Gardening – working with the Franciscan Monastery gardens to help produce food for DC Area food kitchens.
  • Basic Carpentry – building a Viking chess set, building a sawhorse, building a bench, building a table
  • Basics of home plumbing
  • Basic engine maintenance and small engine repair
  • Cooking
  • Basics of home electrical systems
  • Sewing, knitting, and crocheting


The Refectum period is a unique offering that allows students to explore new educational or skilled topics of interest to them under a mentor. Some of our Refectum students are taught directly by their mentor, while others are engaged in self-study under the guidance of a mentor. Still others choose to practice existing talents with goals and schedule worked out with their mentor.

Examples of Refectum Use
  • Instrumental – violin, piano, mandolin, bagpipes, banjo
  • Languages – French, Greek, German, Spanish, Croatia, Italian
  • Art – stained glass window, sketching, watercolors, calligraphy
  • Dance – tap dance, Irish dance, Scottish Highland dance
  • Academic – political philosophy, guided author sessions

Adventure Days

Adventure days are an opportunity for students to take advantage of professional and leisure outings where they can see how what they are learning is applied in the real world. In some cases, this affords an opportunity to interact with tools and experts in a field such as astronomy or biology. In other cases, it gives students a chance to try exciting activities that they might not otherwise participate in. Here are examples of Adventure Days that SJI students have already had or will have in the coming years.

  • Telescope viewings at University of Maryland Observatory
  • Chesapeake bird migration observations
  • Shakespeare and other dramatic productions
  • Symphony productions
  • Visit to a working farm
  • Wilderness orientation challenge
  • National Art Gallery visit
  • Smithsonian Institute museum visits
  • River raft adventure
  • Sailing adventure
  • Fishing adventure
  • Camping adventure
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First Year Class Schedule

Apply for Admission

Applications are now open for Academic Year 2021-2022

Every applicant to the St. Jerome Institute has a distinct educational background, personality, and family situation. We are attentive to these differences, and take the time to address specific questions or concerns that arise during the application process. Our headmaster personally meets with each prospective student. Over 90% of our students receive financial aid, and most have not previously attended a classical liberal arts program.