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March 2008 Archives

Eagle Hill School

My visit to Eagle Hill School in Hardwick, MA this past Wednesday (3/19/08) reminded me of the importance that tone plays in the life of a school. In its work with learning (dis)abilities, tone provides the foundation for students and faculty at Eagle Hill.

All relationships-from those in the dormitory to those in the classroom, from how expectations are set to how students respond-bind and remind Eagle Hill faculty and students that they work and live together in a setting that supports and looks out for one another.

Every person that I met at Eagle Hill demonstrated a warm engagement towards one another and towards me, as a visitor. Every student greeted me with an extended hand, looked me in the eye, and inquired as to how my visit was going.

From the ground up, the entire community was fully engaged. Peter McDonald, Eagle Hill's head of school, graciously spent time with me describing the school and its growth. My hard-hat tour of the cultural center, currently under construction, reinforced the sense of community. The new cultural center will provide Eagle Hill students with opportunities to learn through experiences, and students will be able to participate in all facets of the building's operation from production to performance to financing and marketing productions. The cultural center will also allow Eagle Hill to reach further into the surrounding community.

Dr. McDonald said that the new center was designed to enhance the art program, provide students with a resident theater company run by John and Linda Tomasi, and host speakers, musicals and other events that will be open to the residents of Hardwick and surrounding towns."

I left Eagle Hill marveling at the engagement of everyone in the community. No one is left disconnected and this tone begins with an extended hand and a warm greeting when you arrive on campus.

Visit Eagle Hill's web site to learn more about the school.
My student tour guide during a recent visit to Kents Hill School (Kents Hill, ME) reminded me about the unique opportunities of small schools. Her enthusiasm was infectious (wouldn't expect less from a tour guide). Kents Hill does what small schools often do best- bring its students to life.

Kents Hill encourages its students to extend themselves beyond the recognized programs- an Advanced Placement program that received the 2003 Siemens Foundation Award for Advanced Placement, the Waters Learning Center for academic support and environmental science- into the areas of personal direction and accomplishment.

When I asked, "what makes Kents Hill?"  She answered the community and the supportive nature of the everyone- faculty and students. She posited that a student might want to build a violin- a difficult task for even the most experienced wood worker.  In many settings the student might be hamstrung by two issues- no wood shop and adult discouragement.

Kents Hill has a wood shop so that students can work with their hands and a Kents Hill faculty member would approach the question differently. Rather than dissuading the student, a Kents Hill adult might say, "O.K., lets look at the situation. If it can be done, lets put together a plan and we'll support and help you through the process."

This exchange provides the quintessential example of the small school experience. Small schools tend to be much more student driven and focused than their larger counterparts. This student centered focus and flexibility allows students to pursue and grow in personal and unique directions.

Visit Kents Hill's website to learn more about the school.

Hyde School - Bath, ME

hyde-school.jpgHyde School occupies a unique place in the boarding school world. The Hyde experience is about building and growing people.  Working with a clear mission and focus, Hyde "works well with the off-track teenager, reacquainting them with what it takes to get back on track."

Using a setting dedicated to teaching and helping students become conscience-centered learners first and foremost, Hyde's tight focus shapes every part of the school- making the school experience all encompassing; everything/all parts of living become lessons and learning experiences at Hyde.

Focused on building and developing students' moral and ethical compass, the school's approach to character development extends beyond the student to include the family.  Hyde requires the participation of the student's family as a fundamental piece of every student's growth and education.

Hyde unifies three great forces of personal development - education, character and family - calling this framework a Character Compass.  The four points of the Hyde's Character Compass include:

  1. A philosophy of character based on- Courage Leadership, Integrity, Curiosity, and Concerns

  2. Dynamic and inspiring peer culture

  3. Committed faculty

  4. Parents.  Hyde requires parent and family participation
Hyde's structures and codes provide external influences and lessons, teaching students that he/she and his/her actions have a relationship and responsibility to the world and those around them.  I've always been impressed that Hyde students work to practice the highest notions of responsibility-  to be good and do good when no-one asks and when no one is looking; and to always leave a place or situation better than when you arrived.

No part of any student's life is untouched or unshaped by Hyde. Visit the school's site to learn more.

School Visits - an ongoing series

One of the really fun things that we get to at AdmissionsQuest is visit boarding school campuses. This give us an opportunity to talk with people at each school and learn more about what makes them unique.

The entry that follows this one about Hyde School is the next in what will become an ongoing series of our thoughts and observations from our campus visits.  
National Coalition of Girls' schoolsAs part of celebrating engineer week, our colleagues at the National Coalition of Girls Schools recently created a section of their web site (Science. Technology. Engineering. Math.) dedicated to girls' interest and achievement in math and sciences. They've organized the resources into sections for teachers, parents, and students.

Great reading and ideas if you teach or have a budding young scientist of your own.
I read this article in the Boston Globe about how the sub-prime mess may shrink lending options for students and couldn't help but think about how this will affect boarding school loans.

While there's no magic wand or solution, we suggest the old fall-back approach.  If you're considering borrowing for tuition, read and educate yourself regarding options; communicate with the school; start early; organize your financial data; consider all your options; and, apply early. Check out our main site to see a list of private school loans.
  1. Objective assessment of student and family.
    An educational consultant will assess both students and family to set clear, appropriate goals for the admission process.

  2. The perspective and judgment to say "we need to know more" and seek educational assessment and testing when needed.

  3. Recognizing and analysis of any learning differences or special needs.

  4. Educational Consultants know schools
    Schools often appear quite similar.  In reality, each school and student are a unique fit.   Educational consultants know that the devil is in the details; consultants regularly visit schools to gain first hand experience of each school's unique perspective and workings.
  5. Knowledge of the admission process.
    An educational consultant helps families build a plan or a map to follow so that no piece of the admission process suffers from short shrift or omission.

  6. Guidance driven and shaped by what's best for the student.

  7. Professional judgment.
    If the situation is not a good fit for the student, the educational consultant will say so.

  8. Ongoing support.
    Consultants provide additional follow-up and insight once a student enters his/her new educational setting.

  9. An understanding, professional advocate for the student.

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About this Archive

This page is an archive of entries from March 2008 listed from newest to oldest.

February 2008 is the previous archive.

April 2008 is the next archive.

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