Hill School’s academic program is focused on building a strong foundation of core academic skills through a curriculum that challenges each student at an appropriate level of skill and developmental readiness. Within disciplines, significant themes and common practices unify the scope and sequence of our program. Please feel free to browse the curriculum summaries for each grade level for a more detailed description of course offerings.
In the language arts, students in all grades read independently, which encourages fluency and a life-long love of reading. Students master writing skills and processes through frequent practice that emphasizes the development of each writer’s voice. Understanding of the conventions of standard written English is built through conferences with teachers and peers as well as detailed comments and responses. The student publications Calliope and Curves, Angles, Dots allow children to write for the larger school community.
Math groups are small and focus on building a solid structure of understanding that makes future learning possible. The mathematics curriculum incorporates six content strands: numbers and operations, measurement, data analysis, probability, geometry, and algebra (patterns, functions, and symbolic representation). In addition to procedural fluency, emphasis is placed on problem solving, reasoning and proof, communication, connections, and representation.
Social studies and history classes introduce students to the people, culture, and world around them. Starting with an exploration of Middleburg’s place and culture, the curriculum branches out to a variety of times and places. From Sumer to Native Americans to classical Greece to United States history, students gain an understanding of how people have related to one another and responded to their environments. Students learn geography, note-taking, test preparation, and working with textbooks and original sources; and they take frequent field trips to many sites including Washington D.C., Colonial Williamsburg, and New York City.
Hill School has a strong JK-8 science program developed and taught by three experienced science teachers. The curriculum, aligned with the National Science Teachers Association Standards of Learning, blends topics from the life, earth, and physical sciences. Scientific literacy is developed through active inquiry, problem solving, and decision making. Students are encouraged to explore, investigate, and question, which develops their curiosity about the world around them. Scientific concepts such as hypothesis, prediction, and conclusion are incorporated throughout the program and include more formal lab write-ups in the upper grades. Students solve problems through firsthand experiences and by observing and examining their environment. In order for students to develop scientific literacy, concrete experience is of utmost importance – in fact, it is essential.
In addition to our JK-8 science curriculum emphasizing hands-on learning, Hill School incorporates place-based outdoor field studies – our Dornin Science Center units. This unique program gives children the opportunity to use scientific field methodology to monitor, interact with, and connect to their environment, which fosters responsible stewardship. Field studies include forest surveys, water quality monitoring using chemical tests and invertebrate surveys, soil testing and soil amendment, growing food, bluebird box construction and observation, colonial gardening, and many other outdoor activities. Most of these programs take place on our beautiful 137 acre campus, which includes a variety of habitats and open spaces.
Throughout the curriculum, teachers keep close watch on students who require additional academic support. In the lower grades, homeroom teachers coordinate with the Reading Specialist and other support personnel so that students receive support both individually and in small groups. In the upper school, Academic Support is a separate class in which students learn study skills while working on core academic classes. In addition, many teachers at Hill tutor students and work with them daily to help with organization or specific assignments. Academic Support teachers meet weekly to monitor student progress and make adjustments as necessary.
The best way to learn about the program at Hill is to talk to us and visit. If you would like to learn more I hope you will contact me, either through email or by calling the school to set up an appointment. I am proud of our program and will be eager to discuss it with you.
Huntington Lyman Ph.D.