High School

High School Academics

In our high school, we believe that student agency is important for authentic learning. Our teachers are guides, pointing students in the right direction and giving them the resources to find their way while being careful not to limit their pursuits and interests. We promote collaboration and communication, depth over breadth, and genuine engagement.

High School students take four years of study in English, Social Studies, Science, Mathematics, Language Acquisition, and the Arts. All 11th and 12th grade students can choose from a variety of International Baccalaureate course offerings.

International Baccalaureate Diploma Programme

Headwaters School is an IB World School offering the Diploma Programme. These are schools that share a common philosophy—a commitment to high quality, challenging, international education that Headwaters School believes is important for our students.

Learn all about our International Baccalaureate Diploma Programme here.


Foundational to our academic structure is our advisory curriculum. Much more than a home room, an advisory creates a daily support structure for academic and personal success. The advisor serves as a first point of communication between a child’s teachers and their parents. Advisory is more than a period; it is a relationship. Students set goals, conduct holistic self-evaluations, take part in community dialogues and activities. We truly believe our students’ success in life will be a function of their ability to produce extraordinary results while maintaining healthy and sustainable lifestyles.

City as Classroom

The River Campus is located in the heart of downtown Austin. We are blocks from the State Capitol, City Hall, Shoal Creek, Waller Creek, Lake Austin, and the business district. Our vision for the River Campus is an upper school program that is deeply integrated with civic, tech, environmental, and service opportunities for our students beyond the walls of our schools. We believe this creates a unique opportunity for our students

Read more about our City as Classroom initiative here.

High School Course Sequence

    • HS Course Sequence 22-23

High School Curriculum

Graduation Plan

List of 4 items.

  • Credits Required for Graduation

    For detailed course descriptions, please download the 2018-2019 Middle and High School Course Catalog.

    • English: 4 credits
    • Foreign Language: 4 credits
    • Social Studies: 4 credits
    • Science: 4 credits
    • Math: 4 credits
    • Arts: 4 credits
    • Theory of Knowledge: 2 credits
    • IB Extended Essay: 0.5 credit
    • College Planning: 0.5 credit
    • Yearly participation in Advisory & Project Week
    • Physical Activity: 1 credit for 9th & 10th Grade, 1 credit for 11th & 12th (as part of IB Creativity/Activity-Service hours).
    • Community Service: 25 hours per year for 9th & 10th Grade, 25 hours per year for 11th & 12th (as part of IB Creativity-Activity-Service hours).
  • What does class look like?

    Between classes there is the normal hustle and bustle of adolescent life, students laughing, gathering their materials and talking to their friends as they head to class. Then there is a silence that passes over the school. Each class at Headwaters starts exactly on time, doors close and students and teachers take a few minutes to do a simple centering practice. For a moment, we are still and take stock of our day, our mind and our body. Class begins with intention. Across the school some students will be taking pop quizzes, some will be engaged in silent reading, some will be setting up labs, or typing up papers. Many will be in discussions, some listening to lectures, or doing group projects while others are rehearsing, creating art, or doing self-directed studies. There is no formula for lesson delivery and each teacher has the autonomy to respond to his or her class as necessary. At the end of class, however, every class resumes to a united structure. We debrief every class, taking an opportunity to observe and communicate what worked, or what could be improved in our own process, the classroom environment or in the lesson itself. Class dismissed.
  • Assessment

    Assessment at Headwaters happens in many ways. Guides value students’ participation, homework, projects, and tests as part of their class grade. Assignments are recorded by the teacher and available to parents and student via Blackbaud. Students write a weekly update to their advisor, and cc their parents, to summarize their academic progress, grades and plans. This ongoing dialogue gives the student consistent opportunities for advisor feedback, as well as self-evaluation. Teachers provide formal comments at mid-semester and report cards are sent out at the end of each semester. To give a holistic perspective on a student’s academic and character progress, the advisor submits a comprehensive narrative evaluation as well.
  • Additional Support

    If a student needs or desires additional help from a teacher, they can seek the teacher after school for office hours. In some cases, teachers will require students to come to office hours in order to get such support in they have concerns for their long term success. While we don’t offer special services for students with learning disabilities, we find that our office hours structure usually provides the help that a motivated student needs to overcome many lingering skill gaps.

Project Week

Every year, each Headwaters student invests in a personal project. Students pick their topics in late fall and develop their ideas through early spring. The actual Project Week happens directly before Spring Break, when all formal classes are suspended and full-time attention goes to the Project Week endeavor. Finally, every single student shares their presentation with the community in our Project Week Fair. Project Week encourages students to explore their passions. Many students use the opportunity to explore practical forms of learning and explore real-world careers. No matter the topic, the Project Week structure demands that students develop planning and organizational skills. These skills enhance over time, and each consecutive year gets more and more ambitious and exciting.

Senior Colloquium

Senior Colloquium is similar to Project Week Presentations, however the colloquium is focused on our senior class presenting and imparting knowledge they have gained from their Senior Thesis. Students work on this thesis throughout their senior year. The topics of these theses are as singular as our students and allow for students to delve deeply into a topic of interest and to gain mastery of this topic of their choice. All student work concludes with a reflection-centered presentation to their peers, parents, and guides. 

Springs Campus

18 months to Pre-K
6305 Menchaca Rd.
Austin, TX 78745
Phone: 512-443-8843

Creek Campus

Elementary School
9607 Brodie Ln.
Austin, TX 78748
Phone: 512-804-2708
Fax: 512-628-4810

River Campus

Middle & High School
807 Rio Grande St.
Austin, TX 78701
Phone: 512-480-8142
Fax: 512-480-0278