For over 30 years, High Meadow School has served as an independent school that practices a philosophy of progressive education. First, here's what that means:
There are roughly 2,000 independent schools in the United States, with a total enrollment of about 1% of all students (around 700,000 total). Independent schools are different from other private schools in a few critical ways:
- Self-owned, not-for-profit and governed by independent boards of trustees.
- Financed through tuition, fund-raising, and endowments
High Meadow has also pursued a vision of providing a progressive education in a diverse, inclusive community of students, parents and faculty. That means:
- Students are at the center of the classroom experience, and can choose areas of particular interest to extend their own learning.
- We must prepare and nurture students to be future participants in a free, diverse, and democratic society.
- Teachers are researchers in their own classrooms, and collaborate with each other and each individual student to find the best ways to learn and develop.
- Academic, artistic, physical, and social skills and pursuits are all valued and brought to bear on the learning process.
Should you consider an independent, progressive school? Here are seven reasons our alumni and parents gave us:
1. You believe in going deep vs. going wide in learning
The multi-disciplinary approach, in terms of the actual philosophy of the school, their project-based learning is a really good fit for us,” says Jennifer, a parent. “[My daughter] is able to explore subjects across multiple disciplines, and she always has the time that she needs to really explore and embrace what she’s learning. The teachers also have a lot time to work with the kids on whatever they need.”
2. You believe that early education choices are as influential as college choices
I feel like going to High Meadow influenced me most in my choice of college,” says Maya, a High Meadow alumni and freshman at Skidmore College. “I chose this school because it had so many aspects similar to High Meadow. It’s on the smaller side, and it’s student-oriented. The slogan is “creative thought matters.”
When we went to High Meadow to look at it, we knew instantly that this was a place where [my daughter] was going to thrive,” says Jennifer. “She reacted very strongly to it, she said I want to be here. “ The thought kept coming in my head: This is a more important choice in helping her become who she can be than college. This is going to change her life.”
3. You think socioeconomic diversity is important
We never saw ourselves as private school people,” says Jennifer. “We really appreciate the fact that HMS makes the school accessible to lots of families from different socioeconomic backgrounds.”
It’s not like your typical private school,” says Maia, a parent. “The tuition is the lowest around in this area for a private school. They give you a lot of opportunities to work off your tuition. You can clean the school, you can be an assistant in the classroom. There’s been a diversity of economics, which we really appreciate.
4. You value artistic and cultural pursuits outside of the classroom
I couldn’t see a school without art or music or theater, but that’s what’s happening in a lot of places,” says Maia. “High Meadow was the school that had a dance component. If he had gone somewhere else, that wouldn’t have been part of his life.”
I got to encounter the arts, creativity and expressive writing at High Meadow,” says Maya.
5. You want your child to be excited to go to school every morning
He ended up in this wonderful class of kids, who he sees almost every weekend,” says Maia. “It’s an incredibly fun, nurturing place.”
I loved learning, I was excited for my projects, excited for interactions with my teacher,” says Sophia, an HMS alum. “I gained an overall love of learning... I would raise my hand and ask three questions at once.”
Everyone got dealt a really good set of friends in a small class,” says Maya.
Our daughter started High Meadow last year in fourth grade,” says Jennifer. “She went from a kid who didn’t want to go to school, to a kid who bounded out the door every morning.”
6. You and your children want to feel a sense of ownership
We’re given the opportunity to think that the school is an extension of our own home,” says Maia. “We’re asked to care for it, do cleanup days, do volunteer time. It gives us some sense of ownership for the entire campus.”
You make some bonds that last,” says Sophia. “I still feel like I’m part of the High Meadow community.”
7. You went to an alternative school yourself
Visiting for the first time just felt familiar to what I had experienced growing up in Oregon, says Maia. “We had amazing arts-oriented alternative schools. We all called the teachers by their first names, and it felt like a community. That’s what I wanted for my son.”