Below is an overview of our curricular map.  Click here, for a detailed description of each grade level.


One of the key focuses of Shepherd of the Desert is maintaining a comprehensive curriculum.  Our goal is to not only nurture the academic growth of our children, but to nurture their spiritual, emotional, social, and physical growth as well.  You will find that Shepherd of the Desert incorporates classes that educate the whole child.  By giving our students opportunities to learn a broad range of disciplines, we are preparing them to live responsible lives of service and to be a blessing to their community. 

Shepherd of the Desert reviews and analyzes our curriculum on a regular basis.  This includes updating our textbooks and improving our instructional resources in order to provide our students with an exceptional education.  Shepherd of the Desert is nationally accredited through National Lutheran Schools Accreditation, our students perform exceptionally well on the Iowa Assessments, and we meet or exceed national standards.

Shepherd of the Desert reserves the right to interview and test students to determine grade placements or special needs such as learning disabilities or emotional concerns.  


Along with the traditional courses of instruction, Shepherd of the Desert teaches Religion as a regular course in the school day.   Concordia Publishing House’s One in Christ is the text used in all classes, and it emphasizes our relationships with God, others, and the world.  Bible verses that reinforce God’s love for us and his plan of salvation through Jesus are discussed and memorized weekly as part of the curriculum.  In addition, all classes at Shepherd of the Desert meet together on Wednesday mornings for chapel.


All grades incorporate the Second Step curriculum into their religion time.  This program focuses on improving academic and social success with developmentally appropriate lessons.  Primary grades focus on managing feelings, making friends, and solving problems.  Elementary grade students focus on empathy, emotion management, problem solving, and self-regulation skills.  The middle school students focus on empathy and communication, emotion management, coping skills, and decision making.  Together, this program series helps students stay engaged in school, make good choices, set goals, and avoid peer pressure, substance abuse, bullying, and cyber bullying.


Students are taught the concepts of number theory, math computation, application, and problem solving. K-5th students use Saxon Math, and grades 6th-8th use Prentice Hall. 7th grade advanced math students are offered pre-algebra, and 8th grade advanced students are offered algebra.  In addition, all math classes in grades 1st-6th are taught at the same time to allow advanced students to be challenged by working one math level ahead.


Life science, Earth Science, Physical Science and Health spiral through all the grades at Shepherd of the Desert. K-5th grades use McMillan McGraw Hill’s A Closer Look series.  Grades 6th-8th use the Prentice Hall series.  Grade 6 focuses on Earth science, grade 7 focuses on life science, and grade 8 divides the year into chemistry and physics.


The language arts program consists of reading, grammar, literature, spelling, writing, and handwriting. The Saxon Phonics and Spelling program in Kindergarten encompasses all of the language arts components.  1st-5th grades use the Houghton Mifflin English and Reading programs.  Grades 6th-8th use Prentice Hall and McDougal Littell for Literature and Prentice Hall’s Writing Coach for grammar.  In addition, all grades use the Sadlier Vocabulary series for vocabulary and spelling, and 6th-8th grade incorporates the online program Write to Learn for writing assessments and research papers.


History, geography, political science, and sociology permeate all grade levels.  K-5th use Scott Foresman, and 6th-8th use Prentice Hall.  4th grade focuses on Arizona history, 5th grade U.S. history, 6th grade world history, and 7th-8th grade study U.S. history in depth.


Students at Shepherd of the Desert participate in physical education classes twice a week.  These classes focus on physical fitness, movement concepts, rules for various games and sports, and the importance of working together as a team.  P.E. classes are taught by our Athletic Director and incorporate age and developmentally appropriate activities.


Students at Shepherd of the Desert receive music instruction once or twice per week depending on grade level.  Classes are taught by a music specialist who incorporates the Silver-Burdett/Ginn program.  Topics include music appreciation, history, basic music theory, and exposure to various musical instruments and styles.  4th-5th grade students learn to play the recorder, and all students have opportunities to participate in concerts, chapel services, and other performance or worship experiences. 


Students at Shepherd of the Desert receive art instruction weekly from a qualified teacher with an art degree.  Students are introduced to various styles and artists, and projects are both age and developmentally appropriate.  Each year in February, our school hosts a school wide art show which is open to the public.  This is a great opportunity for us to connect with the community and showcase the talents of our students.


Students at Shepherd of the Desert receive weekly instruction from an instructional technology specialist.  Primary grades focus on keyboarding skills, basic programs, and activities that supplement and reinforce classroom instruction.  Middle school students develop skills in word processing, spreadsheets, and presentation software, and they utilize Google Docs to edit, save, and share research papers and other assignments. 


All students at Shepherd of the Desert receive instruction in Spanish.  K-4th grades learn vocabulary and grammar, and grades 5th-8th use the Rosetta Stone online program.  This program enables students to work at their own pace.  Rosetta Stone focuses on conversation and communication skills, and classes are monitored in our computer lab.