At Hillbrook, we believe children learn best when they are engaged in hands-on learning. That’s why innovating, creating, making, and design are woven throughout our curriculum.
Since our earliest days 80-plus years ago, Hillbrook has encouraged its students to build their dreams. In 1935, Hillbrook students designed, financed, and built a “Village of Friendly Relations” which still stands in the center of our campus. These little houses—the latest of which was built by students in 2015—are a testament to our makers’ spirit and a joyful example of what children can create together when given the space, tools and encouragement.


In 2010, Hillbrook became the first junior kindergarten-8th grade campus to develop a 1-to-1 iPad program for students because we believed in the educational opportunities that tablets held for students. Hillbrook was also one of the first JK-8th grade schools to create an Innovation Lab on campus where students could tinker, problem-solve and create. Today, we are furthering our commitment to fostering exploration and design-thinking with the building of the Hillbrook Hub.



We broke ground in August of 2018 on the Hub, which will become the epicenter of collaboration and creation at Hillbrook. The new Hub building will bring into the physical center of our campus many key programs that are already at our philosophical center: making, S.T.E.A.M., and student-driven projects. This agile learning space will combine tools and materials for design, making, scientific inquiry, engineering, woodworking, visual and performing arts, and technology into one central space, making all of these modes of thinking and interaction accessible to everyone on-campus at any time. The Hub will be a physical place for learners that more closely matches the best opportunities for creation, inquiry, and problem-solving in the real world. It will be a place where students, faculty, and members of our larger community come together to share a broad range of tools, questions, and expertise, to engage in deep learning that is personally relevant and inspires us to be our best and see the best in others.The Hub will be a place for carpentry and computing, laser cutters and sewing machines, 3D printers, and more.

We expect the Hub to be open to students in the fall of 2019 and in the meantime, we continue to integrate making and design in meaningful ways across the grades at Hillbrook.
 
 

The Arts at Hillbrook
Self-expression and choice are at the heart of Hillbrook’s art program. We nurture young artists, and creators by providing hands-on opportunities to make and appreciate art in a variety of mediums from clay, to paint, photography, woodworking, laser printing, and animation. We also integrate art education and creative expression into all areas of a child’s learning by weaving the arts into history, literature, science, mathematics and more. At Hillbrook, we believe knowledge and appreciation of the arts is an essential part of the intellectual, social, and emotional growth of every child. Our classes are taught by experienced art teachers who guide students as they grow from art explorers into emerging artists eager to challenge themselves creatively. Our goal is for students to learn to express themselves artistically through a variety of mediums with confidence and joy, while also understanding and appreciating art in all of its forms.
 
Here are some of the ways Hillbrook fosters artistic expression and appreciation from JK to 8th grade.
 
Visual Arts - We encourage children to enthusiastically experiment with art materials and investigate the ideas presented to them through visual arts instruction. Students learn to work with various tools, processes and media, and coordinate their hands and minds through an exploration of the visual world. They learn to make choices that enhance their ability to creatively and critically express their thoughts and ideas without fear of failure. As budding artists, students bring to life projects that promote curiosity and self-expression while also teaching the value of perseverance.

As they move from kindergarten through the lower school, students develop skills of observation and learn to examine the objects and events in their lives and the lives of others. Learners also grow in their ability to describe, interpret, evaluate, and respond to works and artefacts in the world of visual arts. In reflecting on their own work as well as that of other artists throughout history, students unravel the essence of artwork and appraise its purpose and value in the visual world in which they live.
 
Music - The Hillbrook music program stems from the philosophy of Carl Orff and Zoltan Kodály. This multi-faceted approach is characterized by active involvement in music-making through the body, voice, dance, and playing on specialized Orff instruments and other percussion. The Orff approach recognizes the many doors through which a child can enter the musical world and provides opportunities for aural, visual, and kinesthetic learners to be successful in music.

Our goal is to teach the elements of music from around the world through singing songs, playing instruments and musical games, dancing, improvising, and composing original works of music and movement. Beginning in our youngest grades students learn to play the glockenspiel and xylophone. As students grow, they also learn to play the recorder and ukulele. Elective offerings in middle school also enhance music instruction, as students can choose to be part of the middle school choir or rock band.
 
Performing ArtsAt Hillbrook, performing arts are key to developing and maintaining a sense of community. From Jk to 8th grade, we celebrate risk-taking, creative expression and student choice through shared experiences of performances. We start by encouraging students from their first day of school to stand up and tell a joke at our weekly flag-raising gathering, and from there build a culture of trust and joy. Students enjoy opportunities to perform throughout the school year singing, dancing, acting, giving speeches, etc. in both formal and informal settings. From play-acting in kindergarten to a colonial debate in 5th grade, or skits in Mandarin and Spanish, performances are part of everyday life at Hillbrook. In Hillbrook’s inclusive and joyful community, performances are an opportunity to build confidence, develop communication skills and even problem-solving skills. Our students feel safe performing in front of the classroom or on-stage without fear of failure and develop into confident and compelling speakers.

Throughout the school year our community gathers for larger performances, such as the Greek Play in 3rd grade, the Spring Concert in our Lower School and the Middle School Winter Concert. These beloved community events provide individualized opportunities to perform song, poetry, dance and other art forms both as part of an ensemble and as soloists. Students also enjoy a wide variety of public speaking venues across the grades culminating in speeches that each 8th grader delivers to the entire student school community reflecting on their time at Hillbrook. Also in 8th grade, the entire class comes together to produce a full-length musical, including vocal training, acting coaching, choreography, set design, production, and stage management. Under the gentle guidance of expert mentor teachers, students enjoy fun and rich experiences in teamwork, communications, and time management. Students run the lights, build the sets, help make costumes and take responsibility for the musical. The process is celebrated by our school community as a favorite annual event and an example of student growth and understanding of the performing arts.