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Upper School

Finding Your Way, Guided by Wisdom

When you walk around our Upper School campus, you'll feel like you're on a college campus, and that's intentional.

Our beautiful facilities and wide array of curricular and cocurricular opportunities will prepare you to confidently navigate your future. With a student to teacher ratio of 7:1, you’ll get close attention from dedicated teachers who inspire, challenge, and support. You will learn from peers who bring fresh perspectives and new ways of thinking and develop lifelong friendships. At Woodward, you can dive deeply into the subjects that inspire you, build the confidence to make a difference, and discover strengths and qualities that only you bring to the world. Whatever your passions—in academics, the arts, or athletics—you can follow them. You can find your way.

Respecting ourselves, each other, our school and our world is the Woodward Way.



At many schools, the courses are all at the same level of academic rigor, which means you might get bored if the pace is too slow, or you could become overwhelmed if it’s moving too quickly. At Woodward, we recognize that students need added challenge in areas where they excel and extra support where they need reinforcement. You can mix and match the rigor levels of your classes by taking advantage of the four different academic “tracks” we offer. If you’re strong in sciences, we’ll make sure you’re in a class that requires greater depth, analysis, and critical thinking skills. Maybe you need extra reinforcement in English? We’ll provide more structure and guidance so you can master skills while building self-confidence in the subject. It’s a balancing act to get it right, but at Woodward, we’ll meet you where you are and give you the tools to succeed in school and in life. 

Learn more by exploring our interactive curriculum guide.




upper school student works in art studio


In the Upper School, you'll engage in truly world-class STEAM experiences led by top-notch faculty like Tommy Ehrensperger ’78, who teaches Physics, Astronomy, and Meteorology. “We have quite an array of opportunities, ranging from core courses to AP courses to Robotics and Computer Science, arts, and all kinds of interesting electives,” he said. You’ll have access to state-of-the-art labs, an electron microscope, a greenhouse, and even a planetarium. You’ll be taught by passionate, engaged faculty members who will inspire, challenge, and support you. Our STEAM curriculum is chock full of challenging and interesting courses like Analysis, Anatomy and Physiology, Criminal Investigation, Forensics, and Biotechnology, Discrete Mathematics, and Independent Science Research (ISR). ISR partners advanced science students with professors from colleges and universities including Georgia State and Emory University, to perform authentic independent scientific research. It’s an unparalleled opportunity to do college-level work while still in high school.


“My leadership  in the Woodward community ranges from my role as a board member of Woodward Equality Alliance to a captain of the varsity girls soccer team to a summer camp counselor, where I discovered my love for kids and teaching. My time at Woodward has developed me into the person I am today.” Upper School Student

Respecting Ourselves & Others

While we are one of the most diverse private schools in Atlanta, even the nation, we believe that it’s not enough merely to be diverse in our demographics. You’ll learn alongside classmates who represent diversity in all its forms—racial, ethnic, religious, and geographic as well as differences in learning style. You’ll engage in service projects to give back to others with partners including the Atlanta Community Food Bank and the Jesse Draper Boys & Girls Club. You can join affinity groups like the Equity Alliance, Black Student Union, Yad B’Yad, and the Interfaith Council. As a senior, you’ll complete a Compassion Capstone project that will allow you to explore, from multiple perspectives, a complex subject that inspires you. You’ll go into the world understanding how to engage in dialogue with others who think differently and to work together to make the world a better place.


If you’re a visual artist, you can take advanced painting, fiber arts, jewelry-making, film photography, and art history; some in year-round classes. Musicians can study the violin, guitar, trumpet, or percussion, or create your own pieces in our digital lab. You can sing and act in spring musicals like “Mamma Mia” or dance in the Young Choreographers Series. Whether you’re marching with the award-winning band under Friday night lights or touring Europe with our choral group, you’ll find your way and your passion while learning from teachers who are working artists, in studios and classrooms that rival college spaces.

Learn more about our Visual & Performing Arts programs.


With more than 100 student clubs and organizations, opportunities abound for Woodward students to pursue their passions and interests on a deeper and more meaningful level. Whether you are interested in the environment, religion, a world language, government, art, or film, Woodward has something for everyone.

Learn more about our vast cocurricular offerings.



Camaraderie. Teamwork. Winning with grace and integrity. When you’re a student-athlete at Woodward, coaches guide you with these philosophies as they give you the skills to succeed. At Woodward, you’ll be able to choose from 18 varsity sports and compete at the state and regional championship levels. You’ll be challenged to do your best in athletics and academics while being supported by coaches, trainers, teachers, and teammates who care about you. And who knows? You might become one of the many Woodward grads who go on to play college sports at every level.

Learn more about Athletics.

Diploma Distinctions

You can pursue your passion by earning a diploma distinction in Global Studies, Sustainability, or Service Learning. Apply by the end of your 10th grade year to graduate with a distinction, and you’ll gain an advantage in college admissions and future career opportunities in one of these areas that are truly vital to the future of our world.

Learn more about Diploma Distinctions.


As an Upper School student, you will participate in Maymester during the last week of the school year and choose from a variety of unique courses that provide real-world learning opportunities. Designed as a short-term enrichment program, Maymester is anchored in the philosophy of experiential education to prepare you for life beyond the gates of Woodward. You can choose from cross-disciplinary courses—from Zoology, to Service Learning, to Outdoor Education, and much more—where you’ll be exposed to different ideas, cultures, community, and relationships through a memorable hands-on learning experience.

College Counseling

During your Upper School journey, you’ll benefit from the wisdom and guidance of our College Counseling team who will empower, advise, and support you through your transition to higher education. Starting with college awareness in 9th grade and continuing through personalized college planning during junior and senior years, you’ll have access to a wide array of resources. Our comprehensive four-year program matches your talents and aspirations with top colleges and universities for the next stop on your educational journey. 

Learn more about College Counseling at Woodward.

Student Publications

Student Publications includes a variety of classes and cocurricular activities to learn new skills or strengthen the ones you have–all while creating and publishing your work and the work of your peers. These opportunities include student-run media outlets, such as The Phoenix (Academy-wide yearbook), The Blade (student magazine), the butterknife (website and weekly newsletter), and Silent Voices (literary arts magazine). If you’re still exploring journalism as an interest, we also offer an Intro to Journalism course that focuses on building foundational skills and techniques. Whether you want to report the news, critique classmates' poetry, build a website to host student work, and much more, there’s opportunity for you to explore journalism in Woodward’s Student Publications program.

Check out The Butterknife



Faculty Focus

upper school science teacher holds a photo of himself

Tommy Ehrensperger's passion for physics is unmistakable and unwavering

An alumnus who graduated in 1978, he returned to teach in 1985, passing up a research career (including a possible job at NASA) after earning his physics degrees at Georgia Tech. He’s as gleeful as the proverbial kid in a candy store when he’s teaching Upper School physics, astronomy, and meteorology. Ehrensperger continues to be inspired by his students and colleagues, and loves teaching at Woodward. “I deeply appreciate the autonomy I’ve had. I collaborate with colleagues teaching common courses, and I’ve been allowed to play to my strengths, which I believe gives the students an optimal experience,” he said. “I was a science nut from an early age, and getting to teach it (for an actual living!) truly amounts to a joyful way to share my passion.” 

Read about Tommy Ehrensperger and his Woodward experience.


Our Stories

Hear from our students about finding their Woodward Way.

My favorite place is the library because it’s so peaceful and quiet, and in my classroom we have a reading nook and our own little library full of books. I just love books.

Class of 2033 - Primary School


Class of 2033 - Primary School

What are third grader Indira’s favorite things about the Primary School at Woodward Academy? There are so many.

"Most kids say lunch or recess, but I don’t think it’s lunch or recess,” she said. “I like the learning because they teach you very well in different ways. I just love all the stuff about the Primary School. I think it’s a really good school. It pushes you. It teaches you a lot. It makes you feel at home. It’s so magical. All the teachers are very kind. If you don’t get it, they will help you.” 

Indira goes deeper into what she loves at the Primary School:

Books, books, and more books. One of her favorite things about third grade was doing the 40-book challenge. “You read 40 books in the whole school year, and I just love it. I’ve run out of books in genres that I like and I really like that because it’s pushing me out of my comfort zone. My favorite place is the library because it’s so peaceful and quiet, and in my classroom we have a reading nook and our own little library full of books. I just love books. I’m reading ‘The Hobbit’ right now. It’s my second time. It’s a really big book but I can read big books.”

Clubs and intramural sports. Indira has tried soccer, lacrosse, basketball, speed stacking, and cheerleading. She’s also a member of the choral group the Primary Singers. “I got to sing the national anthem with the Primary Singers at a Hawks game. The Primary School gives you a lot of options of what to do and you can see what you like the most by trying out new activities, and if you like it, maybe it will be something you want to be when you grow up.”

Art class. “I love art. It just lets creativity out to the world. Whatever you want to do, you can paint it and ‘boom,’ it comes out in the world—that blasting of colors and beautifulness. My grandmother loves art, too. I think that’s where I got my art and creativity sense.”

Collaboratory. “It tells us more about the computer. I’ve really gotten into this game that helps you learn what letters to type. We started it in the collaboratory and it was fun so I kept doing it at home, and now I know how to type.”

In summary? “The Primary School is so magical and fun and creative. I’m really sad that I’m leaving the Primary School, but I know it’ll be a new adventure to advance a grade level and see what Lower School is like. My brother’s in the Lower School so I know a lot about it already, but I just can’t wait to see for myself.”


The Woodward Way also is a continuous reminder, in the midst of caring for others, that I also need to care for and respect myself.

Class of 2028 - Middle School


Class of 2028 - Middle School

Eighth grader Elijah entered Woodward Academy in kindergarten, and he’s a big believer in the Woodward Way.

I am always proud to say that I attend Woodward Academy because I know what that means,” Elijah said. “The Woodward Way is all about respecting others, the world, and ourselves. It means doing the right thing at all times, even when you think no one's watching. The Woodway Way also is a continuous reminder, in the midst of caring for others, that I also need to care for and respect myself. Woodward has ingrained the core value of respect into my life, and it’s a large part of who I am today.”

Elijah is a student-athlete involved in football, golf, and track and field.  He’s a Peer Leader and member of the Athletic Council as well. “Woodward is an excellent school when it comes to academics, but it also has a great athletic program. I consider myself an athlete but I'm a student first, and Woodward makes sure I keep that in perspective.” 

The Academy has helped Elijah excel intellectually and develop his social skills and confidence. “It’s the type of school that really seeks to prepare you for life. It takes a forward-looking, holistic approach,” he said. “With the confidence Woodward has given me, I can take risks such as speaking in front of large crowds and challenging myself to be great in personal, academic, and athletic situations.”

His teachers are dedicated, and they really care about and engage with students. “I feel very lucky to say that I have had great teachers since kindergarten. They all really care about their students and really engage with us,” Elijah said. 

He also feels lucky to be surrounded by wonderful friends. “My friends at Woodward taught me what it feels like to have true friends—people who will have your back no matter what and will allow you to be true to yourself. It feels special to have friends that I’ve been able to grow alongside. Some of my best friends here at Woodward have been with me since kindergarten. They are like family.”

Reflecting on his Woodward journey, Elisah considers how much he’s grown and how much Woodward has shaped him. “I can’t say I've had ups and downs throughout my journey. I'm fortunate to say I've only had ups. I’m looking forward to my next and final chapter here at Woodward in the Upper School,” he said. 


When she entered Woodward as a Transition student, she immediately started to excel. “The first healthy student-teacher relationship that I ever made was at Woodward,” she said.

Class of 2028 - Middle School


Class of 2028 - Middle School

Rowyn went from struggling academically and feeling isolated at her previous schools to academic success, connecting with her teachers, and engaging passionately with debate, art, and other activities at Woodward Academy. 

An eighth grader in the Middle School, Rowyn came to Woodward in fifth grade for the Transition Learning Support Program. “I had attended a few different public schools; however, education had always been extremely difficult for me. Every year I just barely passed. I was extremely quiet and went weeks without ever uttering a word in school. No teacher ever took notice of me because I was complacent.”

Rowyn said she began to compare herself to her peers; learning seemed easy for them and was laborious for her. “At the start, I failed—not for lack of effort, but when you think you hit rock bottom, you no longer see the point of grappling for a piece of twine 50 feet above you,” she said. “I knew that if elementary school was strenuous middle school would, by no stretch of the word, be torturous. I had admitted to myself that college was out of the question. That was until I was diagnosed with dyslexia.” 

Because her elementary school didn’t provide adequate support for students with learning disabilities, her parents started to look into different schools. “That’s when they found Woodward Academy,” she said. “When I first toured the school, I thought that my parents must have taken a wrong turn somewhere because there was no way this was elementary to high school. It looked like a college campus.” 

When she entered Woodward as a Transition student, she immediately started to excel. “The first healthy student-teacher relationship that I ever made was at Woodward,” she said. “I went from barely passing every single grade level to being on the honor roll. I am now in eighth grade with a GPA above 4.0. I’m in advanced art, and I’m participating in cocurricular activities such as debate, which I absolutely love. I cannot express how thankful I am for this opportunity and how much I wish that all kids who struggle like me could share this experience.”

Rowyn loves her teachers. “I feel that I have a very close and personal connection to each one of them. They are always the ones in the corner cheering you on. They know how to push you to your potential.” 

For Rowyn, the Woodward Way means accepting others and accepting yourself. “We all have our flaws and our differences, but that is what makes being human so incredible,” she said. “Woodward is the best school for me because of the opportunities, the acceptance, and how the school emboldens students to become their best selves. Woodward provides so many cocurricular programs and clubs that no matter who you are you can find your place.”


Since enrolling at Woodward in sixth grade, Chance said he’s learned so much even outside of academics—time management, how to adapt to change, and when it’s important to take breaks so he can self-regulate.

Class of 2029 - Middle School


Class of 2029 - Middle School

Chance is a seventh grader at Woodward Academy, and he’s already something of a Renaissance man. In one school year, he was the dance lead in “Matilda the Musical” and two-time Reading Bowl MVP while taking a challenging robotics course. Outside of school, he’s a fencer, a Black Belt in karate, and takes dance lessons six times a week.

Since enrolling at Woodward in sixth grade, Chance said he’s learned so much even outside of academics—time management, how to adapt to change, and when it’s important to take breaks so he can self-regulate. “I needed to adapt to a fast-paced environment to guarantee my success and happiness. Woodward helped me to brainstorm, plan, and take action to make my school life less stressful,” he said.

Chance said his teachers have been incredibly supportive. “They make sure to incorporate interactive, yet challenging, ways of studying and connecting with me and my peers. My teachers are great because not only do they prepare us for upcoming challenges, but they also adapt to their students' environment to ensure their success,” he said.

He’s particularly inspired by his Social Studies teacher, Da’Nall Wilmer. “He is patient, yet fun. I'm always prepared because of what he’s shown us in class. Mr. Wilmer also makes sure to incorporate Black history into our daily studies, making it clear that Black history shouldn’t only be celebrated in a month but the entire year. He was an Alpha which is my dream fraternity, and he led a mentoring program in Baltimore for boys of color. I think of him as the peak of Black excellence at Woodward Academy, and that’s why he inspires me most.”

So, why does Chance think Woodward is the best school for him? “Woodward challenges me. Woodward is a place where I can celebrate my accomplishments knowing I worked hard for them. Attending Woodard has skyrocketed my work ethic, making me a better person.”


He’s a high-energy, curious boy, and the Primary School has helped him channel that energy into learning.

Class of 2036 - Primary School


Class of 2036 - Primary School

Sam starts his days at school with morning meeting, followed by snacks, and, depending on the day, his kindergarten class at the Primary School will go to specials in science, art, or P.E. 

Sam says his favorite thing about school is art. “I like drawing. I like to draw spaceships, boats, Godzillas.” He’s also interested in science, which he studies in a dedicated classroom with lab space. “It’s not really like potions and that stuff. It’s more just learning, like hibernation or migration.” 

Sam also loves lunch at the Primary School. His favorites? Yogurt, chocolate milk, hamburgers, and french fries. Although he’s only in kindergarten, he’s already looking ahead and mulling over what he wants to do when he grows up.‟I’m either gonna be a fireman, an engineer, a scientist, or a hunter. I’ve not decided yet,” Sam said. 

Sam’s mom, Erin Murphy, said both Sam and his older brother, John, a fifth grader, love going to school at Woodward. “Sammy has had teachers who cherish his unique personality, but also thoughtfully guide him to being the best version of himself. He’s a high-energy, curious boy, and the Primary School has helped him channel that energy into learning. He also has made wonderful friends. The Primary School is an incredibly kind place, which is reflected in how the kids treat each other.”

In the years ahead, Ms. Murphy looks forward to her youngest, Penny, attending Woodward as well. “I am very excited for all the opportunities that the kids will experience as they grow older. The expansive offerings in athletics and the arts are going to allow my kids to experiment with so much that this world has to offer and help them grow into well-rounded adults. Although I tremendously value the rigorous academics at Woodward, it is the approach to character and the development of the child as a whole that makes Woodward really special.”


Ryan prioritizes the friends she has made at Woodward, and feels they will be friendships she will keep her whole life.

Class of 2027 - Middle School


Class of 2027 - Middle School

Despite a demonstrated aptitude and enthusiasm for art, Ryan lists a slew of other passions before she even gets to her enjoyment of the Middle School's year-long art program.

“I plan to be the best college gymnast anyone has ever seen. I plan to major in Pre-Med and become a pediatric orthopedic surgeon.” She devotes 20 hours off campus per week to gymnastics, rounding out her schedule with chorus, Mosaic Club, and serving as a Peer Helper.

“Woodward provides me with the opportunity for authenticity and to be the very best version of myself. At Woodward, I am encouraged to go deep to discover my inner talent and skill without inhibition or fear.”

Ryan started at Woodward’s College Park campus as a kindergartener. Her mother teaches 3rd grade in the Primary School, and Ryan cites her as one of her heroes: “She inspires me because I recognize that the work she does in teaching her students will have a positive impact on them for the rest of their lives.”

The other person Ryan says she most admires at Woodward is her math teacher, Dr. Debra Smith. “She represents the ideal teacher and leader. She provides knowledge, insight, and instruction that I can apply in the classroom as well as in everyday life.”

Despite her busy academic and cocurricular routine, Ryan prioritizes the friends she has made at Woodward, and feels they will be friendships she will keep her whole life. “I have learned that being flexible and understanding are key to maintaining relationships,” she said.

The most important lesson Ryan said she has learned at Woodward?

“That striving to do the right thing is worthwhile.”


"The beauty of Woodward comes not from the existence of our uniqueness, but rather the usage of our strengths to help one another."

Class of 2024 - Upper School


Class of 2024 - Upper School

Hlina remembers being timid and soft spoken when she enrolled at Woodward in sixth grade. Now, she is a confident 11th graders who says she's had an amazing journey at the Academy

She plans to study chemistry in college to prepare for medical school, with the goal of becoming an oncologist and cancer researcher. “While working to make advances in the biochemical world, I hope to also make advances in the realms of diversity, equity, and inclusion. I specifically want to give back to my community in Tigray, the northernmost region of Ethiopia, where there is a humanitarian crisis amid an ongoing civil war.”

Hlina’s family moved to the United States from Tigray. At first, she said, making friends and finding her place among many talented students at Woodward was difficult. Time, and her growing relationships with teachers and friends, changed her perspective. 

“I’ve met many amazing people who have taught me how to embrace my differences. Woodward has given me the strength to respect and embrace my identity, while helping others do the same. The beauty of Woodward comes not from the existence of our uniqueness, but rather the usage of our strengths to help one another,” she said. 

On her Woodward journey, Hlina explored many different interests. In Upper School, she’s been a Peer Leader, Student Government Association senator, Black Student Union marketing Director, Pre-Med Club co-president, and a member of Jazz Choir and the Track and Field team. Outside of school, she’s served as social media director for the Tegaru Hope Foundation, a nonprofit that works to restore education access in Tigray’s rural areas that have been struck by war. 

Hlina said her teachers have been deeply invested in her growth as a person, inside and outside of the classroom. “Getting to know my teachers has been a rewarding experience that has provided me with support and guidance on topics beyond the scope of specific classes. I often find myself picking up on important life lessons while in class, and I appreciate the interdisciplinary approach that my teachers take in explaining concepts.”

She says Woodward has opened her eyes to many perspectives and taught her what it means to be a good citizen of my community. “With a multidisciplinary approach on academics and a dedication to service, Woodward has created an unmatched atmosphere for opportunity,” Hlina said.


"To me the Woodward Way means to be nice to my friends and peers and treat them how I want to be treated."

Class of 2028 - Lower School


Class of 2028 - Lower School

“I play flute. It's one of the smallest instruments in the band, but it uses the most air.”

Asked what he wants to be when he grows up, Gabe has a ready answer: “I want to be, first, a successful person in life. And probably either a professional dancer, an actor or movie star, or start my own little business.”

Given that drive, Gabe says he is especially aware of the opportunities he has at Woodward.

“At some schools they don’t get to do all of the stuff that we do. I’m in honors dance and a lot of schools don’t even have honors dance.”

Gabe takes dance seriously, and appreciates that his teachers do, too. He says they have helped him land dance opportunities outside of school, including spots in two commercials (which he had to turn down) and performing in a professional dance company production of The Wizard of Oz as a munchkin.

“We had funny, silly little costumes,” he laughed.

Asked to articulate what the Woodward Way means to him, Gabe said, “To me the Woodward Way means to be nice to my friends and peers and treat them how I would want to be treated and how they would want to be treated. And to be nice to each other. Most of the time we’re nice to each other, but every so often you’ll have your arguments.”

And it is those friendships that Gabe says most make him feel at home at Woodward. 

“I’ve learned from my friends that being silly and being yourself is perfectly fine when you’re around people who you trust. And the people are really trustworthy here. I tell people some of my secrets and they’ll keep them and won’t spread them around. I’ve learned that being weird isn’t a bad thing.”


The first difference fourth grader Julia noticed when she moved to Woodward was the number of smiling faces around her.

Class of 2030 - Lower School


Class of 2030 - Lower School

The first difference fourth grader Julia Moore noticed when she moved to Woodward Academy was the number of smiling faces around her.

“There are a lot more people here than at my old school,” she said. “It’s nice to have more friends.”

Those friends helped her find her way around, and became one of her favorite things about Woodward. Another favorite aspect she cites is the diversity of educational opportunities.

“There are a lot more ways to learn,” said Julia. “You get to experience more art. You get to experience how to do more music. So it’s like a wider range of things you can do.”

She noted how that breadth of offerings helps meet students where they are: “If you need a tutor, they’ll come in during the periods, which is really nice. And there’s Transition [Woodward’s learning support program for students with mild to moderate learning challenges]. And you get taught other languages, which is helpful. You get more kinds of learning experiences.”

Julia, who adores art and wants to be an artist when she grows up, says she appreciates the opportunities to paint and pursue other subjects she’s passionate about during the school day, because outside of school she pretty much lives on the soccer pitch. She practices with the Inter Atlanta Football Club four days a week, not including matches and tournaments on the weekends. For good measure, she also recently took up volleyball intramurals and plays basketball in the winter months. But even her soccer life connects to Woodward: “Maybe nine people on the soccer team also go here, which means I get to play with them and know them more than just at soccer.”

Little wonder, then, that her favorite part of the day is mounting “World Cup” matches at recess.


"I'm empowered to chase my passions. There are no boundaries here to what you can accomplish."

Class of 2022 - Upper School


Class of 2022 - Upper School

Someone should put Samuel Jung in charge of the Internet.

One of four valedictorians in the Class of 2022, Samuel is planning to major in Science, Technology, and Society (STS) at the University of Pennsylvania. “STS examines science and technology from both philosophical and sociological perspectives,” he said. “I really care about our current issues in big data and technology policy, especially in the contexts of information privacy, free speech, and sociotechnical systems. I hope to make a tangible impact in this field. Everyone deserves a fair, transparent Internet.”

A National Merit Finalist, Samuel was named a top 300 Scholar in the 2022 Regeneron Science Talent Search, the nation’s oldest and most prestigious science and math competition for high school seniors. He believes attending Woodward has been vital to his academic success as well as his growth as a person. 

“I’m empowered to chase my passions. There are no boundaries here to what you can accomplish; you’ll rarely hear a ‘no.’ I feel like everyone at this school really cares about each other, and not on a superficial level. Woodward is a family.”

Samuel has taken advantage of Woodward’s many opportunities, taking part in Student Government, Boy Scouts, Varsity eSports, the Technology Student Association, and Music Research. He describes a typical day in his Woodward life: 

“I wake up, shower, grab toast, and run to school. I’m not the best morning person, and sleep matters a lot to me! I take my first three classes, and get lunch with my friends. That’s when we talk, because most of us don’t take the same classes. There’s so many options here. After lunch, I take my last two classes, then go to one of my clubs after school. When I get home, I go out to run for an hour or so and come home in time for family dinner. Then I wash up and have a few hours to study, depending on the night—and how much I use my phone!” 

As he prepared to embark on the next step of his journey at college, Samuel said he’ll always be grateful for his teachers and friends. “My teachers are thoughtful and insightful. They are always ready to help. From my friends, I’ve learned that it’s OK to speak your mind. Everyone’s different, and there’s a real value in that. The friends I’ve made and people that I’ve met along the way gave Woodward meaning.”


When I grow up, first I want to be a basketball player and then I want to be on ESPN, a presenter like Shaq and Charles Barkley..."

Class of 2032 - Lower School


Class of 2032 - Lower School

Fourth grader Dove has mad basketball skills. She’s also an accomplished dancer and loves to draw, make art, and hang out with her family. The meaning of her first name describes her perfectly: love and peace.

Dove started school at Woodward Academy in kindergarten. In Primary School, she was inspired when she met Walker Kessler ’20, then a Woodward senior and now a professional basketball player with the Utah Jazz who played college basketball for the Auburn Tigers and North Carolina Tar Heels. Dove wants to play basketball in college, too. “My top choices would be South Carolina, Duke, Georgia Tech, or Tennessee,” she said. 

She plays for an AA traveling church league team, along with two of her classmates, and hopes to play basketball in Middle and Upper School for Woodward. Her favorite college girls basketball team is the University of South Carolina. “I even have a poster of them. I like their coach, Dawn Staley. I literally have alerts on my phone to tell me which teams are playing, the score, and who has the most points.” 

When she’s not playing basketball, she’s often dancing. At the Lower School, she takes Ms. Dawn Axam’s dance class. Outside of school, she’s taken lessons for almost nine years at Tumble & Dance Studio. “Our competition was full of sadness and joy because first we didn’t place in one of our dances but we got first place for our other two. The medals were very big.”

Her favorite academic subjects are English and math. “I really like my math teacher, Ms. [Jennifer] Collins. She makes it so I can understand it. I used to have a really hard time with math, and now it’s really easy and fun.” 

She’s envisioning a future where basketball will continue to be a big part of her life. “When I grow up, first I want to be a basketball player and then I want to be on ESPN, a presenter like Shaq and Charles Barkley. I also want to be a nutritionist.”

She loves going to school at Woodward. “It’s diverse, fun, and unique. I’ve had really great teachers,” Dove said.


Byron is drawn to acting. He was chosen to play the lead in two school productions, “Shrek Jr.” in fifth grade and “Oliver and Annie” in fourth grade.

Class of 2031 - Lower School


Class of 2031 - Lower School

Lower School student Byron is drawn to acting. He was chosen to play the lead in two school productions, “Shrek Jr.” in fifth grade and “Oliver and Annie” in fourth grade. Outside of school, he appears in the 2023 TV movie, “A Nashville Legacy,” playing the younger version of one of the main characters.

Filming for the movie was done in Alabama over the summer of 2022. “I got to meet some of the actors, the director, and the executive producer. And it was fun being on camera and meeting people. My scenes were kind of funny so everytime I did it the whole place laughed,” Byron said.

So, what exactly does he like about acting? 

You can pretend. As a kid, I used to pretend a lot,” he said. “I like the different characters you can play. One character might be a really nice person, and then the next can be like a really evil person. Last year, I was Oliver, and I was in an orphanage. This year—almost a complete contrast—I was a big ogre in a fairytale land who didn’t like anybody. Both had happy endings. Shrek became nicer, happier, and a little more accepting, but not a lot.”

When he’s not rehearsing for a play or in front of a camera, Byron’s favorite academic subjects are math, science, and English. He likes to write in his spare time. “I write fantasies and small-moment stories. I’ve been working on this Harry Potter-themed book for awhile but I decided to take a break to focus on acting.” 

He’s also into music, playing saxophone in the Lower School band, and taking piano lessons since kindergarten. “I love playing instruments,” Byron said. “My piano teacher is one of the music teachers in the Primary School.”

Byron believes Woodward is the best school for him. “I like Woodward because of all the opportunities and the people here, because there are people from everywhere basically. Diversity also is why my mom picked this school,” he said. “My teachers help me, and they push me just enough but not too hard.”

When he grows up, Byron wants to be an actor or a music-maker. “If those don’t work, then I will probably want to go into stocks and, what’s it called, real estate, or I would want to be in the Air Force like my parents.” Meanwhile, he’s looking forward to what his Woodward journey holds in the future. He describes his school in just three words: “Fun, friendly, and I’d have to say exciting.”


Meet Our Team

Jonathan Merrill

Titles: Principal

Ronda Zents

Titles: Assistant Principal

Stephanie Stephens

Titles: Academic Dean

Anthony Thomas

Titles: Dean of Students

Luke Underwood

Titles: Associate Dean of Students

Tonya Dedeaux

Titles: School Counselor

Chato Hendrix

Titles: School Counselor

Leigh Shelor

Titles: School Counselor

Explore Further

Your child’s education is a unique journey of growth, enlightenment, and exploration as they find their way into the world. At Woodward, we provide the compass for that journey.