The Arts


The creative experiences that comprise the NPS visual arts program develop students’ intuition, reasoning, imagination, and communication skills. The art curriculum is rooted in the fundamental elements of art and principles of design while also exploring art history and numerous art media and techniques. Students study and practice art styles and movements from the earliest cave drawings to today’s digital world, inspiring their own creations and interpretations. Through arts integration and the use of thinking routines from Project Zero’s Making Thinking Visible and Agency by Design's maker-centered learning, students at National Presbyterian School look at subject matter from new and diverse perspectives, making vital connections across the school curriculum and deepening their understanding of what they’re learning in the classroom.


The music program at National Presbyterian School fosters a love of music and strives to educate independent, lifelong music makers. Music classes in Nursery through Grade 2 are taught through the Kodaly approach to music education. Students sing and play age-appropriate folk songs and singing games and become familiar with the fundamentals of music through experience-based learning. Students in Grades 3-6 attend music classes taught through an Orff-Schulwerk inspired approach, allowing them to build upon their musical knowledge and create, compose, arrange, and study more complex musical themes. These programs help students develop music literacy skills and provide positive experiences in speech, singing, instrument playing, moving, and creating. Throughout their time at NPS, students are exposed to a dynamic and culturally rich repertoire of music including: American and international folk songs, art songs, spirituals, Christmas carols and traditional hymns, as well as representative samples from African and Native American music and American jazz. The music program at NPS also strongly encourages a sense of community through common singing and musical sharing in weekly Chapels, holiday services, and other assemblies and programs throughout the school year.


The drama program at National Presbyterian School provides an opportunity for students to explore curricular areas in creative, dramatic ways. The program stresses the process of creation while also providing students with an opportunity to learn performance skills. In the lower grades, the program focuses on process-centered activities to enhance a child’s natural sense of dramatic play and imagination with story drama, movement activities, and imaginative play. Upper Division students use educational drama strategies including process drama, role play, script analysis, and improvisation. Critical thinking, problem solving, self-expression, and aesthetic appreciation are primary tenets of instruction. Students participate in a developmentally-appropriate performative experience, ranging from an open class with parent participation in the lower division to musical productions for the school in the upper grades. Students are intimately involved in the creative process of writing, directing, and acting in these presentations. All students also enjoy regular opportunities for dramatic expression through homeroom activities such as simulations, role play, Readers Theatre, morning meeting group activities, Chapel, and assemblies.


Learning in Action

Student cutting painted paper

Our Pre-Kindergartners are studying the work of Eric Carle, including the process by which he makes the art for his books. And they tried out the multi-step process themselves!

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Art Overview

NPS Students Excel At

  • Displaying confidence in taking creative risks
  • Developing a love of the visual arts and a knowledge of a variety of media
  • Appreciating art history and a diversity of artistic styles
  • Applying the basic elements and principles of artistic design

Visual Arts Program Highlights

  • Study of master works from classical, modern, and emerging artists
  • Creation of props and sets for, and integration of student artwork in class productions and musicals
  • Installation of student-created permanent displays
  • Integrated technology projects including Photoshop, video production and editing, and Computer Assisted Design for 3-D Printing
  • Student recipient of the Maryland Arts in Education Association Award
  • Student representation at the AIMS Student Art Show
  • Ongoing student art displays throughout the School
  • Lower Division art center designed especially for younger students (K–2)
  • Epson 7800 Color Printer, large format color scanner and kiln
  • Makerbot Replicator 2x 3D Printer
  • Glowforge 3D Laser printer
  • Dedicated makerspace for design thinking exploration and projects
  • Photography lessons with Nikon D3100 DSLR cameras

Music Overview

NPS Students Excel At

  • Working cooperatively through music
  • Reading music in both symbolic and standard notation
  • Critical listening and responding to music
  • Leading and participating through music in their community
  • Performing in public - singing, playing instruments, and dancing

Music Program Highlights

  • Many opportunities to share and perform music for the NPS community
  • An extensive collection of tuned (e.g., xylophones) and untuned (e.g., drums) instruments
  • A 4-octave set of handbells
  • Combined drama and music instruction to connect sound to movement (N)
  • Experience-based play that fosters musical learning in early childhood (N–PK)
  • Singing, moving, playing, and dancing to build musical skills and understanding (K–2)
  • Instruction on soprano recorders (3)
  • Student-produced jazz musical (4)
  • NPS handbell choir performances (5–6)
  • Collaborative art and music lessons (6)
  • Celebration of African Culture (6)
  • Chorus performances in and around NPS, NPC, and Washington, DC (4–6)
  • Spring Musicals: 101 Dalmatians (2009), The Jungle Book (2010), 2 Good 2 Be 4gotten (2011), Aladdin (2012), Annie (2013), Oz! (2014), Peter Pan (2015), Seussical Kids! (2016), Willy Wonka Kids! (2017), HONK, Jr! (2018)

Drama Overview

NPS Students Excel At

  • Engaging in problem-solving exercises using teamwork and creative thinking
  • Celebrating the artistic endeavors of all members of the School community
  • Expressing themselves verbally and non-verbally with poise and confidence
  • Adopting a different perspective by stepping into or creating a character

Drama Program Highlights

  • Living Museum: 6th Grade Monologue Project
  • Field trips to the Kennedy Center and Imagination Stage
  • Class presentations of drama skills
  • School musicals: 101 Dalmatians (2009), The Jungle Book (2010), 2 Good 2 Be 4gotten (2011), Aladdin (2012), Annie (2013), Oz! (2014), Peter Pan (2015), Seussical Kids! (2016), Willy Wonka Kids (2017), HONK, Jr! (2018)

Stephanie Kilpatrick, Drama
MA, New York University
BS, Boston University

Kate Baschuk, Art
BA, C.W. Post College

Sean Nolan, Art
BA, University of Minnesota
MAT, American University

Katie Shuford, Music
BA, University of Mississippi
Diploma, Kodaly Institute

Anne Hancock, Music
BA, University of New South Wales