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Educational Philosophy

Every Hillbrook student understands they are a unique and powerful person with the agency to determine what difference they will make in the world.

Hillbrook provides an extraordinary educational experience. Our curriculum is challenging, flexible, and anchored in standards – it’s designed to keep bodies active and minds engaged as our students sharpen their skills and broaden their understanding of the world, their communities, and themselves.  At the heart of our approach to teaching and learning are three foundational beliefs:


We believe that a sense of identity and of community belonging are central to each student’s developmental and academic needs. With our responsive approach, we strive to create an inclusive environment in which each student feels a full sense of membership and is seen and valued. Strong relationships are an essential component of teaching and learning at Hillbrook. Partnerships between students and teachers underlie our academic program, social-emotional learning, social impact awareness, and competencies in Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion, giving students both the encouragement to stretch their thinking and the guarantee of support. Classes involve animated discussions and active learning–our students have ideas and opinions. They speak up, they respectfully disagree, and they learn from their teachers and from one another. It’s a process that builds confidence in their thinking as they discover who they want to be beyond Hillbrook.


We believe that the best learning happens through doing. The real world is a cross-disciplinary place–and so are our classrooms. Our curriculum is designed to provide authentic activities and explorations which overlap and connect in unexpected ways. There is a point, purpose, and takeaway to every learning activity–no work for work’s sake. We design learning with a “low floor and a high ceiling” so each student has their own entry point, and there is infinite potential for complexity, skill-sharpening, and mastery. We foster an equitable daily classroom experience in which every student can access the curriculum in a way that provides a meaningful learning experience. No matter where our students are in their educational journeys, they can expect to be appropriately challenged, authentically engaged, and wholly supported by their teachers.


We believe in igniting the changemaker in every student and nurturing the skills and mindsets to turn ideas into impact. Our curriculum encourages students to know, respect, and value themselves and others as they seek to understand and appreciate differences, to develop empathy, and to challenge racism, biases, and discrimination. Authentic experiences deepen our connections to communities both on and off campus and push us to ask big questions and to assume an active role in shaping a more just and equitable world. Our Reach Beyond program and the Scott Center for Social Entrepreneurship give our students a unique collaborative learning community with a wealth of resources and opportunities to develop their voices, exercise critical thinking skills, and gain the confidence to answer and act upon our two guiding questions, “What matters to you?” and “What are you doing about it?