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How is Hiland Hall School Unique?

The school is unusual on two levels: one, its learning environment in which students of different ages can interact with one another; and two, the teachers’ philosophy and educational practices. We support what is known as an emergent curriculum with the content studied derived from the thoughts, interests, and needs of the students within the framework of the daily program. In addition, our teaching is guided by observation of our students as they engage in various classroom activities. Our methods are founded on practices developed by innovative institutions such as the Prospect School, the Bank Street School and on the study of John Dewey and other progressive thinkers.

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How do you teach children of such diverse ages?
For most academic work, students belong to distinct subgroups based on age, two in the elementary group and a separate middle school. When we engage in a group study, we make room for each student’s related interests and ability level in any work they produce. In the second half of the school year, students choose a topic for an Independent Study where they engage in research with teacher support as needed. Whole group times also allow students of different ages to take on varying leadership roles over their years at Hiland Hall School. I think a recent senior said it best in her graduation speech, “Over the years here I learned to think of my teachers as my friends and my friends as my teachers.”

What about reading, writing and arithmetic?
Our goal at Hiland Hall School is to balance the opportunity for students to express and pursue their own interests with the acquisition of age-appropriate skills and knowledge. We emphasize “learning to learn” and encourage independent thinking, problem solving and group interactions as vehicles for advancing knowledge and understanding within and across disciplines.

How are parents informed of their child’s progress?
Parents are encouraged to ask questions and raise issues at any time, and we make it a point to provide frequent opportunities for informal communication as well as regular formal conferences. Twice a year students receive narrative evaluations that describe and assess the child’s work habits and attitudes, interests and activities, and progress in formal learning. We also send out biweekly notes on the general projects and activities going on in the classroom.

What happens when it’s time for my child to transition into public school?
Our graduates are frequently said to be highly creative and clear thinkers who take a strong role in their own learning. Students’ senior year is spent actively reviewing their approaches to learning, understanding what they can count on in themselves, and preparing for the transition. Our students have been successful in a variety of educational settings.


Can I visit the school to see what it’s like?
Please do! You are welcome to come in any time (please call ahead so we know to expect you). We can also arrange an appointment to discuss the school in context of your child’s needs.

Can we afford Hiland Hall?
Our primary intent as an institution is to be inclusive, and we don’t want a family’s income level to be a barrier to entry. Tuition assistance is available.

Who was Hiland Hall?
Hiland Hall (1795-1885) was born in Bennington and went on to dedicate a good part of his life to public service, including serving as a Representative to the U.S. Congress and Governor of the state of Vermont. A student and active participant in the history of his time, he was altogether a fascinating fellow.

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