Hillbrook’s Strategic Plan, Vision 2020, challenges us to reimagine the student experience, with a strong call to develop concrete ways that we achieve our vision to inspire students to, “reach beyond themselves to make a difference in the world.”
Our new schedule features a weekly Reach Beyond Block for all students and faculty across the school, and a middle school Reach Beyond Week--each a tangible commitment to providing hands-on, real-world learning experiences, with the potential to impact community or planet. By setting aside this time, free from the typical schedule and space boundaries of school, we are challenging ourselves to collaboratively design these learning experiences and to lay the foundation for making this an ever-more integral part of the Hillbrook experience for all.

Our Reach Beyond experiences go beyond service learning to include opportunities for authentic community engagement and partnership and student leadership in social impact and entrepreneurship experiences.

Reach Beyond Block: 
One of the main strategic initiatives identified as part of Vision 2020 was to improve and increase the ways that students live our Vision to “reach beyond themselves to make a difference in the world.” New in our 2018-19 schedule, every child and faculty member on campus meets once a week for Reach Beyond Block. These collaboratively-designed experiences bring together students and teachers from different grade levels and disciplines to engage in experiential learning that helps students increasingly identify what matters deeply to them, and equips them with the skills to make a difference.

In the Lower School, students build knowledge of self and others in their community by investigating how a small action can make a big “ripple,” and learning more about the members of our community who cook for us, maintain our campus, and take care of us after school. Exploring campus spaces and learning not just the names, but also the stories, of people who come together to make Hillbrook a great community, students begin to explore how their own stories and selves impact the community. Our older Lower School students develop their leadership skills in addition, extending their reach to communities beyond campus, and forming task forces or conducting independent, long-term projects to solve the problems they identify as deeply important to them.

In the Middle School, students engage in several-week cycles of mixed 5th-8th grade, interdisciplinary experiences, that range broadly in topic and approach, sometimes driven by teachers, sometimes driven by students. Reach Beyond Block groups can be found working on- and off-campus to collect data, solve a problem, explore a neighborhood, volunteer, and advocate on behalf of issues that matter to them. Through these experiences and activities each week, we commit as an entire school community to turning our gaze both within and out into our communities, near and far, to see how we each already make an impact everyday, and to see how we can be more intentional about that impact.

Reach Beyond Week: 
In addition to our weekly Reach Beyond Block, 5th-8th grade students dedicate one full week in the spring to a broad range of real-world learning experiences that extend beyond our campus and challenge them to think about how they can make a difference in the world. 
In mixed age, cross disciplinary groups of students and teachers, we explore communities and issues near and far, from ethical fashion, to farming, from land preservation to the planned growth of our nearest major downtown area, San José. Based on choice, student groups build skills like storytelling and story-listening, advocacy, inquiry, design, systems-thinking and agency, whether considering how the sport of mountain biking connects to local trail maintenance and public access or seeing first-hand how social change can be accomplished through public art.

Lower School Social Impact Club:
Throughout the week at lunchtime, you will find a flurry of excitement in the amphitheater, where dozens of students in kindergarten-4th grade gather with the Director of the Scott Center for Social Entrepreneurship for “social impact lunches.” Students articulate “what matters to me” and then brainstorm how they can transform this passion into something that gives back to their community, either within Hillbrook or beyond.

Middle School Social Impact Club: Middle School students can choose this elective offering, which enables students to partner with local organizations and participate in real social impact and social entrepreneurship learning experiences. A collaboration with The Scott Center for Social Entrepreneurship, students were introduced to microlending company Kiva, which helps small businesses within the community get off the ground with loans as little as $25. Students created “The Kiva Lending Club” at Hillbrook where students have the chance to develop increased financial literacy themselves and to meet the entrepreneurs in nearby San José who directly benefit from their loans.

An independent Junior Kindergarten -8th grade school in Los Gatos since 1935

300 Marchmont Drive
Los Gatos, CA 95032
(408) 356-6116 | info@hillbrook.org