Prepare To Challenge and Be Challenged

Oxbow Academics are designed to fulfill sending school requirements while engaging students in a new and inspiring way. They offer students multiple entry points that allow both the most academically focused students and those still identifying the area of their interest to engage with the material. Our courses are fully accredited and college preparatory.

At Oxbow we are fully committed to working with students’ home schools to best support their time with us, and their return home. The first step is for families to meet with their home school to go over our Curriculum Packet. The Oxbow Admissions Office, Deans, and Faculty are available to answer questions and provide additional information as needed.

Honors English

“What is the Self?” “How do I live?” “What is my story?” This literary seminar examines the role of storytelling as it relates to the human condition, the natural world, and portraits of the individual self. The course begins with an in-depth study of a pivotal chapter in American literary history, the Transcendental movement of the mid-1800s. Henry David Thoreau’s seminal text, Walden, acts as a platform to pose timeless questions. Students identify major themes within Walden, focusing on the call to cultivate a uniquely “American” identity. Students analyze the subsequent impact that Thoreau and his contemporaries had on generations of modern writers. This inquiry inspires students to nurture their own voice in writing, whereby they have many opportunities to build an expansive portfolio and experiment with simple bookmaking design. At the end of this journey, students have a better sense of how to synthesize and apply their unique voice to their overall studies.

Their story, yours and mine -- it’s what we all carry with us on this trip we take, and we owe it to each other to respect our stories and learn from them. 

— William Carlos Williams

Honors US History

The United States History course at Oxbow combines key ideas related to history, economics, government, and philosophy to provide a multi-faceted understanding of the evolution of American society. The objective of this course is to provide opportunities for students to develop their own philosophic lens and refine the moral compass through which they examine history. Students begin the course with a discussion of the development of Transcendentalism as it exists in the context of the Enlightenment, Industrialization, and the Romantic Era. Students then apply their newly constructed knowledge to discuss issues related to democracy. Students focus on how the economic and cultural underpinnings of society create conditions for new ideas and political organization to emerge. Students depart the course with a clear understanding that they have a powerful role to play in the unfurling of history; that civic awareness and engagement are fundamental to the tenets of democracy. 

And history, with all her volumes vast, hath but one page 

— Lord Byron

Honors Environmental Science

What are the mineral and chemical foundations of modern human civilization? How are externalized “costs” measured? How do my actions affect the natural world? In the experiential Environmental Science class at Oxbow, students explore their relationship to the natural world through a variety of scientific lenses—ecology, sustainable agronomy, and scientific inquiry. Students have the opportunity to actively observe their position in the natural environment of Napa Valley; and, through their study of interconnected food systems, they examine the definition of sustainability and its three pillars—ecological soundness, economic viability, and social justice. Starting from the dirt under their feet and moving up to the food on their own plates, students locate themselves globally; they leave the program with a greater understanding of how to contextualize their daily choices and how those choices impact the rest of the planet.

Ask the questions that have no answers. Invest in the millennium. Plant sequoias. Say that your main crop is the forest that you did or did not plant, that you will not harvest. Say that the leaves are harvested when they are rotted into the mold. Call that profit. Prophesy such returns.

— Wendell Berry

Environmental Science In Practice The Oxbow approach to education is not textbook-driven or simply theoretical, but is based on creating situations where students learn by discovering on their own.

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At Oxbow, we offer students the inspiration and tools they need to utilize math in their artistic and academic inquiry while meeting their sending school requirements to stay on track for high school graduation and prepare for college. Please read on to discover topics covered, as well as opportunities to supplement your math studies to meet the needs of your sending school.

We recommend that you take this course description to your sending school math department as soon as possible in order to decide which math course you will take while you are at Oxbow. Please be sure to collect any math syllabi, books, and other materials from your sending school that you may need before you arrive at Oxbow.

All students at Oxbow will take math as part of our integrated academic curriculum. Students may choose from the following options:   

Algebra II

  • Functional Modeling
  • Data Analysis
  • Linear Equations
  • Inversely Proportional Relationships
  • Systems of Linear Equations
  • Exponential Functions
  • Logarithms
  • Rates of Change
  • Quadratics
  • Square Roots
  • Conic Sections

Please note: Students should bring their sending school Algebra II syllabi with them to Oxbow. Should topics need coverage that are not stated above, our math teacher will supplement instruction based on the sending school syllabi.  


Pre-Calculus and Trigonometry

  • Functional Modeling
  • Pythagorean Theorem
  • The Unit Circle
  • Trig Functions
  • Wave Analysis
  • Data Analysis
  • Linear Equations
  • Inversely Proportional Relationships
  • Exponential Functions
  • Logarithms

Please note: Students should bring their sending school Pre-Calculus and/or Trigonometry syllabi with them to Oxbow. Should topics need coverage that are not stated above, our math teacher will supplement instruction based on the sending school syllabi. 


Independent Research in Mathematics

This option is best for students who have already completed their math requirements. Students taking this path will partake in dynamic projects; they will also get to determine their own course of study and investigate it with support from our math teacher.


Math Supplementation

If the courses above do not cover topics you must learn during your Oxbow semester: 

· Your sending school can send along the respective math curriculum and materials so that the Oxbow math instructor or a tutor can guide you through the semester's content; or

 · Your sending school can accept the NAIS-approved FuelEd* online math offerings (listed below). The Oxbow math teacher will enroll you as a student for this option and support you throughout the semester.

To best meet your math needs, your sending school must approve which of the above options you are going to take while at Oxbow; you may also want to explore taking a summer math class before or after your Oxbow semester to stay current with your sending school requirements and to allow you to spend more time at Oxbow making artwork.


For an additional fee of $1,000, Oxbow provides tutors in French, Spanish, and Chinese languages for those students who wish to continue foreign language study while at Oxbow. If necessary, students can elect to work with an online tutor or to Skype with a sending school teacher while at Oxbow. Other languages may be available, please contact the Admissions Office for more information.

Final Project

At the conclusion of the Oxbow semester, students have a unique opportunity to become an expert on a topic of their own choosing. Final Project is a chance to focus on a subject in great depth with support from faculty mentors. The goal of the Final Project is to foster an ongoing dialogue between inquiry, research, writing, and art-making. The learning path integrates multiple disciplines as a means to inform one’s artistic process. Students take on the model of the artist pursuing a line of work in his/her own studio. Many students cite this project as the highlight of their Oxbow experience, as it allows them to take full ownership over their work by engaging in a dynamic process of creative experimentation, discovery, and output. 

“At Oxbow, I got to try inquiry-based learning for the first time. This allowed me to control the amount of rigor and the depth of research in my topic, as well as picking a topic that I found most interesting. From going through this new process of learning, I feel excited to go back to the rigor of my sending school to apply the inquiry-based perspective to my classes.”

— Meave, OS33

Physical Education

For three hours twice a week, all students take a break from the work at hand to get some exercise. Students choose two activities led by faculty and staff, past activities have included biking, yoga, hiking, gardening, kayaking and team sports that offer everyone the opportunity to stay fit and get outdoors.