With a structured, well-planned program, Hilldale School prides itself on an exciting and challenging educational environment that provides for the maximum individual development of each child. We aim to inspire each child to become a responsible, positive, self-disciplined individual who is a life-long learner and leader. Our comprehensive curriculum offers a structured and well-balanced program including challenging academics, classes in the arts and languages, opportunities for individualized exploratory research, after-school enrichment workshops, and field trips. Small classes ensure a high level of personal attention and guidance, accompanied by well-defined limits, an emphasis on behavioral standards, and a nurturing of emotional and social maturity.
Academic Program and the Hilldale Philosophy
Hilldale School provides a year-ahead accelerated program which meets and far exceeds all California state standards and the Common Core State Standards. Our program is comprehensive and challenging, includes the specific state and national goals to be attained at each grade level, and seeks to provide both breadth and depth in all subjects. It is best suited for bright and gifted children, who can handle the work load and be excited to "go beyond" the texts and for those parents who are willing to support their children in learning to excel. Hilldale School encourages high expectations, a sense of world citizenship and social responsibility, an understanding of our environment and the need for personal stewardship of our environmental resources, positive ethical values, and critical thinking.
We believe that children can succeed, no matter their background, as long as they are offered a coherent sequence of specific knowledge and skills which build year by year, are encouraged and supported by parents and teachers, and as long as they put out their best efforts. The curriculum is structured to ensure the development of these skills in efficient and engaging ways, drawing upon traditional and current instructional methodologies and philosophies.
We emphasize presentation and mastery of basic skills and subject content in phonics, reading, grammar, composition, spelling, vocabulary, math, science, geography, and history, providing the necessary foundation for study in most higher level academic disciplines. Inquiry-based learning, project-oriented learning, critical thinking, and problem solving skills are infused into daily practice and encourage further depth and breadth in each subject matter.
Academic achievement is valued and recognized at Hilldale School, and academic excellence is our common goal. Central to the academic program is the belief that students should “Rise to the Challenge” by making every effort to explore and maximize their academic abilities and interests. Students are encouraged to "go beyond" the norm, especially in those areas in which they excel, and are given opportunities to progress faster, delve deeper into subject matter, and to explore areas which may be of special interest.
Hilldale School also seeks to develop strong values through both study and action.
- Character Education is presented through readings, discussions, and debates in order to strengthen basic good habits, reinforce mutual respect, and develop communication and conflict resolution skills. Students study The Seven Habits of Happy Kids by Sean Covey in our early Ethics classes. Additionally, we use the Peace First curriculum which teaches kids about Friendship, Communication, Sharing, Conflict Resolution, and Taking Action. Eventually, in Middle School, Ethics classes evolve into Contemporary Issues and Community Council, the latter of which is a combination of Service Learning and Student Council. Additional Character Education celebration programs include the Virtue of the Month, the Student of the Week, the Leadership Ticket program, After School Class of the Month, and the Class of the Month.
- World Citizenship (Awareness) and Social Responsibility are encouraged through the study of other people and countries and through email and letter contacts with children throughout the world.
- Environmental Awareness and Stewardship are encouraged through study units and work projects as a way of affirming our connection with, and commitment to, the environment.
- Community Service is explicitly taught and students are required to take action outside of school beginning in Sixth Grade. Students learn the importance of sharing our talents and resources with others. All grades participate in two all-school community service events a year. All Pre-K through 8th Grade classes also conduct their own individualized community service project. Here they determine an area in the community that needs attention, develop an action plan, and take appropriate action to better the situation. In addition to the time spent on this project, students in Grades 6-8 are required to complete a specific number of additional hours of community service each year.
- Community Council, the middle school service learning class provides opportunities for students to learn many elements of community organization. Students find the leadership program that suits their interest. Whether they participate on the Friendship Team or the Fundraising Team, they are Skit Masters (who educate the younger students about the virtues of the month), Safety Monitors, Compost & Recycling Mentors, or part of the Communication Connection team, students learn what it takes to make a difference in the community.
- Teacher-Student Mentoring exists for all students in Sixth through Eighth Grades to provide additional academic, personal, and emotional support through the challenging middle school years. Each student is paired with his or her choice of faculty for special weekly meetings.
- New Student Mentoring provides each new middle school student with a returning student (usually in Seventh or Eighth Grade) to conduct a weekly check in on matters of social and academic support. We want all new students to know from the beginning how important they are to our Hilldale family.
- The Great Kindness Challenge is a national event which takes place in February. However, Hilldale was so inspired by this program that we have taken on weekly kindness challenges to inspire each other to be our best!
With the help of the Hilldale curriculum, our successful students should be prepared to enter and excel in the most demanding college preparatory high school programs and to meet whatever challenges they may face in the future.
In order to address the needs of the whole child, to extend and enrich the academic programs, and to help develop well-rounded citizens, Hilldale School provides a variety of enrichment classes taught by specialists beginning in Pre-Kindergarten. All students participate in art and music classes on a weekly basis and in physical education and Spanish classes several times a week. The courses are structured and based on age-appropriate curriculum to develop and enhance student knowledge, skill, exposure, and experience. A variety of drama, debate, and character education experiences are also included in the regular instruction in order to encourage critical thinking and individual expression. Field trips further extend the curriculum by providing cultural and aesthetic experiences.
Languages are considered an essential part of learning to understand the diversity of our world. Spanish is taught three times a week beginning in Kindergarten, and Latin is studied beginning in Fourth Grade.
The history and appreciation of art and music are an important part of becoming a well-balanced adult. Weekly art classes include art history and appreciation, as well as instruction in drawing, painting, clay, sculpture, and various other art media. Weekly music classes include music history and appreciation, as well as instruction in note reading, rhythm, singing, and instrumental performance. Choir, keyboard lessons, and a variety of workshops are available to interested students during the extended care times.
All students participate in regular physical education and health classes offering a wide range of activities designed to increase motor skills as well as to provide knowledge of, and positive attitudes toward, one’s body.
Selected software and online instructional programs and educational websites are utilized in our two PC computer labs to broaden and accelerate the children’s learning in both academic and enrichment areas. Specific computer skills are also taught in order to help them have an opportunity to think creatively and critically while keeping up to date with new technological advances. Such computer experiences will provide them with the knowledge and skills which will permit them to thrive in our complex technological world.
The academic day for students in all grades is 8:30 a.m. to 3:30 p.m. All students who remain on campus will participate in our homework club and have recess. Optional after-school/study workshops afford additional opportunities to try out and further individual interests and skills, such as sports, art, drama, music, cooking, and much more.