May 092018
 

I heard it as I passed Persimmon the other day. “As you leave Dear Hillbrook, we shall not forget, those who shared our journey…”

I peered in to see a group of 6th grade students singing the graduation processional, a beloved earworm for me that enters my head sometime in early May and doesn’t leave until the last student and faculty member departs campus in June. Once it enters my brain, I find myself whistling, humming, and singing it at all hours of the day and night, most of the time without realizing I’m doing it. It brings with it a flood of memories and feelings, a sense of joy tinged with sadness. It anchors me both in the lived moment of today, and in the long embrace of Hillbrook’s history.

May is full of these moments. Moments of celebration, accomplishment, and transition. Moments that capture how much each child has grown and changed over the course of the year. Moments that are unique and significant in and of themselves, and, at the same time, powerful because of their deep connection to our school’s 83 years of history.

The Hillbrook Art Show opens on Wednesday, May 16.

This Friday, we are celebrating both ends of the Hillbrook journey. In the morning, our youngest students – the JK and Kindergarten crew – will participate in a Celebration of Learning with their families. “Love Makes a Family” provides the children an opportunity to showcase to their family and friends the growth they have experienced this year. This inspiring morning – full of song, dancing, and displays of student learning – has deep roots in the school’s history. While the form of the event has evolved over time, the sense of purpose and joy remains the same. And, for those of us who have seen this event through the years, it provides a powerful grounding for the extraordinary growth these dynamic young children have experienced and a compelling reminder of the extraordinary journey that still lies ahead.

In the afternoon and evening, our campus will fill up with alumni of all ages, as we host our annual Alumni Reunion. In addition to the usual reunion activities, including the ever-popular and competitive Loukas Angelo Alumni Basketball Games, a highlight this year will be the ribbon cutting for the Hillbrook History House, a multi-year project that started as the dream of a group of 6th grade girls back in 2013. Five years later, art teacher Ken Hay, Aynna Patel, a soon to be graduate of the Class of 2018, and several others have worked together to put the finishing touches on this wonderful new addition to the Village of Friendly Relations. I’m eager to see a few of the girls from the Class of 2015 who started this project when they return on Friday night. I know that in the moment I will find myself picturing them both as the girls they were and the young women they have become on the verge of their senior year in high school.

May plays tricks on me like that, as I feel like I’m experiencing the past, present, and future all at the same time.

5th grade students work on the newest Village addition, the Hillbrook History House (2016). The History House ribbon-cutting will take place at the Alumni Celebration on Friday, May 11.

Late last week, I had the opportunity to connect with Weston del Signore, a graduate of the Class of 2014 and soon to be graduate of Bellarmine College Preparatory’s Class of 2018. Weston will be returning as the alumni graduation speaker for the Class of 2018. Weston earned this honor as the recipient of the Hillbrook Award back in 2014. Reconnecting with Weston I was struck by how much he had grown and matured since he last stepped on our stage in 2014, and yet the person he has become – a graphic artist and writer heading off to USC to pursue a journalism degree – clearly was deeply rooted in his Hillbrook experience. He commented on how the Hillbrook program had provided him with the academic foundation and the life skills that had guided him successfully through these past four years at Bellarmine.

Weston has the rare distinction of being the only person I know to have been selected by his peers to give the 8th grade graduation speech in 2014 and now to be returning four years later as the alumni graduation speaker for 2018. I looked back at Weston’s remarks from 2014 and found this passage:

“What I guess I’m trying to say is that Hillbrook’s teachers and my peers have shaped me into the person you see standing behind this old wooden podium. If I hadn’t gone to this wonderful school and seen such wonderful people every day, I might not have turned out the way I would have wanted to. Hillbrook has prepared me for all of the challenges that lie ahead in my life in more ways than one. My teachers have taught me about arithmetic and sharing, even if I don’t want to. They taught me the Pythagorean theorem and how to spell. But they also taught me about life. Like how to apply any of what I just said to real life, a prevalent question in all classrooms. Hillbrook’s outstanding education has taught me how to put my skills to the test in the real world, something I will carry throughout my life.”

Four years later, I think Weston’s description of what he learned at Hillbrook is, if anything, even more true for our current soon-to-be graduates. If you have had the opportunity to watch any of the 8th grade capstone pitches at Flag on Mondays, you see concrete evidence that these dynamic young people are already striving to put their skills to the test in the real world. 8th graders are exploring public transportation in San Jose, how to design and build an affordable computer to increase access for low income communities to technology, expanding the role of arts education in public schools, raising awareness about access to water in Sudan, and improving the sound system for Flag (yes, there is hope for all of those parents standing in the back!). And, if I close my eyes, I can imagine these young people in four years as high school seniors, full of the same confidence and passion they have today, and yet undoubtedly more refined and polished, just like Weston, the product of four more years of experience.

Amidst the busyness of May, moments like these remind me what a privilege it is to share the journey with the students and families of Hillbrook. It is the privilege to see and celebrate what our students have become today, and to peer into the future and imagine what they will become tomorrow. It is the extraordinary privilege of being part of a community that inspires children to achieve their dreams and reach beyond themselves to make a difference in the world. It is a privilege I never take for granted and one that never gets old.

Apr 182018
 

Students participating in “Tracing Places: The Story of San Francisco” trek across the city (and beyond) for the experiences and perspectives to create their own creative works.

Hillbrook launched our first-ever Reach Beyond Week April 2-6. During the week, the entire 6th-8th grade participated in a broad range of real-world learning experiences that extended beyond the campus and challenged students to think about how they could make a difference in the world. The week was an opportunity to design and implement  the type of integrated, project-based, hands-on learning we are increasingly trying to provide as a school for all of our students from grades JK-8.

So what did we learn?

“What matters to you?” is a powerful question

Throughout the week, students had an opportunity to ask different people the same question, “What matters to you?” The answers and the conversations provided a powerful gateway for students to understand how they can reach beyond themselves to make a difference in the world.

So what did people say?

“Being kind,” responded Mallory, a sales representative at the Patagonia store in Ventura.

“Leave no trace and be a force for good” offered Mallory’s colleague, Kyle.

“Happiness,” shared Michelle, the store owner at the Refill Shop in Ventura, a small cosmetics company that uses reusable bottles and containers to mitigate waste.

Hearing from different people, students were challenged to contemplate what their own answer to the question would be. What a gift as an adolescent to be given the time and space to think about what matters to them at this moment, and to develop the confidence to name it for themselves and peers.

In addition, it reaffirmed the core values that we instill in our students each day at Hillbrook. It was a powerful reminder to me: the values you learn as a child – and the ability to name them for yourselves and others – provides you the confidence and clarity you need to make a difference in the world.

Student choice makes a difference

It may have been the most powerful moment of the week for me. Our group was sitting in a circle in the midst of Poco Farm, a small regenerative learning farm in Ojai. The farm’s owner was beginning to talk to the students about sustainable clothing and the fibershed, helping them understand how they could play a role in minimizing the impact of clothing on the environment. She talked about the toxicity of the dyes used to make many of the bright colors we see in our clothing, and shared about the amount of plastic found in nearly every item of clothing.  How might you minimize your impact on the environment, she asked?

What followed was a 10 minute idea storm from the students that left me (and, I think her) somewhat stunned. The students knew a lot – they rattled off multiple ways they were minimizing their impact on the environment, from sewing their own clothes, to piecing together new clothing from different materials, to repurposing clothing they had outgrown (taking a young child’s dress and turning it into a shirt as they grew older, for example). They generated more ideas than she had even considered, and she quickly recognized that this was not your typical group of students.

I have participated in many field trips in my time, and what I realized at that moment was that this was different. On every other field trip, at least a few students are disengaged, as they are being asked to participate in something that doesn’t really interest them. On this trip, there was not a single student in the group who felt disengaged or bored. Each of these students had chosen this trip. This was their passion.

All too often, students are forced to endure school so they can get to something that they care about. Reach Beyond Week reaffirmed what we know – student choice leads to authentic engagement.

Discovering problems is important work

As a society, we often focus on finding solutions. Less often do we emphasize the need to discover and deeply understand a problem. Yet, without a true understanding of a problem, we run the risk of creating solutions that don’t work.

Reach Beyond Week created ample opportunity for students to discover problems. I had the privilege on Friday of seeing a series of presentations by students from two different groups, and I was struck by the number of problems they had identified during the week. Among the problems were:

  • The woeful underutilization of public transportation in San Jose. Less than 1 percent of San Jose residents use public transportation.
  • The excessive waste created by water bottles. Some estimate that 75 percent of water bottles end up in the garbage.
  • The persistence of homelessness in San Jose. There are, according to homeless advocates, 7,000 homeless people in San Jose today.
  • The need to find a use for the scraps created during the creation of clothing.
  • The waste created by used clothing.
  • The lack of basketball courts in downtown San Jose for community usage.

The students then offered a number of creative solutions to these problems – refill stations to minimize bottle usage, bedding filled with used fabric scraps, tiny houses to meet temporary housing needs for homeless people, sites in current parks where basketball hoops could be built. The solutions were thoughtful and had a great deal of potential, and, of course, implementing them is complex.

And yet the point was not to have students quickly solve problems that have bedeviled our society for years. The point is to raise awareness and to create an opportunity for students to apprentice a problem alongside experts who have devoted their careers and personal energy to this work.  These experiences equip our students with the confidence, knowledge, and skills they need to be the change makers of tomorrow. And, in the process, if they decide to take action, all the better.

Just ask the Director of the Scott Center for Social Entrepreneurship Annie Makela. She returned to her office this week to discover the following email:

Hi Ms. Mak,

Hope your break went well! I am starting a fashion business and think that you could really help me with some next steps. Would you mind/be available to meet sometime soon? 4th period on b-days work well for me, or after school. Thanks!

Initiative, passion, confidence. Our students are clearly developing the skills that they need to reach their highest potential in school and in life.

Space & Place Matter

Reach Beyond Week introduced students to an extraordinarily diverse array of learning spaces. China, Southern California, San Francisco, Oakland, Salinas Valley, and East San Jose were just some of the locations students traveled. In the process, they extended their learning off campus and redefined what a classroom can be. Students also engaged with a diverse group of people, and had opportunities to learn with and from them about all types of topics and experiences.

Some of the most powerful learning was life learning – how to ride public transportation, how to behave in a co-working space like WeWork, how to get on and off an elevator in public, how to interview people about their jobs and about their interests in different types of work environments, how to order food and manage money in a large urban market like Grand Central Market in LA or San Pedro Square in San Jose, how to act around a 6-day-old goat.

Moving outside the traditional walls of the classroom also creates meaningful opportunities for students to immerse themselves in the incredible diversity of Silicon Valley and beyond. As a school, we are committed to being an intentionally diverse community. Experiences like Reach Beyond Week greatly expand the opportunities for students to engage with different people and cultures in ways that extend beyond the typical classroom interactions.

On the final day, I was talking to one of our students about WeWork, a space that we have increasingly been using to support our reach beyond efforts. He described how the environment felt different from school, and shared that he felt like it encouraged him to work in a way that was more adult and professional. “We should come here more often,” he noted.

As we have increasingly shown as a school, the best learning spaces are flexible and allow students and teachers to co-create them in order to best support the learning experience happening at that moment. Reaching beyond our campus opens up a whole new set of spaces that can be utilized at different times and for different reasons. Ultimately, we should be finding spaces that support a wide-range of student learning and we should be encouraging our teachers and our students to use spaces that fit the learning goals they have.

So….what’s next?

As I noted in the beginning, Reach Beyond Week was just the beginning. We will be implementing a new schedule next year that will increase our ability to extend learning beyond the campus for all students, from grades JK-8, and that will support our efforts to develop more integrated, project-based learning experiences. The learning from this year’s Reach Beyond Week will be invaluable as we try to think about how to shape more of these experiences for children of all ages.

 

Mar 142018
 

This morning at 10 am, nearly the entire Middle School quietly and respectfully walked out of their classrooms and gathered in the amphitheater as part of a national walkout inspired by students across the country. The students stood silently for 17 minutes, one minute for each person who was killed at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Florida one month ago.

At Hillbrook, the students organized the walkout completely on their own. Unlike some schools where the adults coordinated the effort, we chose to remain true to our values as a school and allow students the time and space to decide how they wanted to manage this moment. We did not bring the event to the students, but we did respond to students who asked about it by saying we would respect their desire to participate in this event. I joined Head of Middle School Christina Pak, Director of Inclusivity & Diversity Jules Greene and several other teachers and staff members who were with the students during the vigil.

When I walked out of my office today at 9:55 am I had no idea what to expect. When students started coming in large numbers I was proud and humbled that they had, on their own, taken the initiative to mark this moment in time. It was truly a student event – organized by students in support of students. It was the quietest gathering of Middle Schoolers I have ever experienced. It was their time.

I found myself tearing up at one moment during the 17 minutes of silence, as I looked out at this hopeful and thoughtful sea of children’s faces. It is tragic that our children need to take this type of stand at a moment in their lives where they should be focused on the joys of childhood. It is tragic that 17 children lost their lives at Parkland, and that many, many more have lost their lives in school shootings during the past few decades.

Somewhat fittingly, the majority of 3rd and 4th graders continued to play on the 3rd/4th playground throughout the silent vigil. Some of them looked over and I could see them quietly talking to each other about what was happening, while others remained immersed in recess. At least two 3rd graders actually joined the event and stood silently with their Middle School classmates. I appreciated the sounds of joyful laughter for it reminded me of why students were doing this – to challenge us as a society to protect children and allow them to remain children a little bit longer.

As parents, I would encourage you to be thoughtful in entering a conversation with your child. If you have a middle school aged child, I would invite you to talk to them about this morning and about their thoughts about school shootings. Clearly, as evidenced this morning, they are aware of the situation and I imagine will be eager, in many cases, to talk with you about their thoughts and feelings. For younger children, I would not have the conversation unless your child brings it up. And, if your child does bring it up, I would encourage you to answer the questions they are asking, and not provide too much information. Follow their lead and keep your answers short and factual. As adults, we sometimes struggle to refrain from filtering the words and questions of a child through our perspective and years of experience. Sometimes the phrases “Tell me more” or “What makes you say that?” are the best way to listen. Often children are seeking connection more than they are seeking answers.

I also know that these events have created anxiety for parents. As a school, we reviewed our security procedures earlier this year with the Los Gatos Police Department. Our student’s safety and security remains our highest priority, and we will continue to work with experts to create the best possible emergency systems.

I am incredibly proud of our students and the community that has helped to shape them into the young people they are. While I am saddened that we are having these conversations, I am inspired to think that these children are growing into the leaders who will be able to solve these problems in the future.

Mar 092018
 

By Mark Silver, Head of School

It started at 12:45 PM exactly. There was no time to waste. The lights went down, the curtain went up, and the Middle School Student Council emerged on stage, enthusiastically singing and dancing. The Talent Show had begun.

Hillbrook’s Talent Show is a longstanding tradition. Students from ages 6-14 delight their peers with a broad range of talents, from musical performances to magic tricks, from short skits to original comedy routines. This year’s Talent Show with 55 acts was the largest ever, bringing more than 100 students onto stage. The show is created by students, run by students (with a heavy assist from some fabulous adult leaders), and is, most definitely, for students. Unlike many schools where the event is highly stage-managed and the focus is on production value, this event is about process – the process of taking a risk to sign up, the process of collaborating with others to prepare, the process of taking a deep breath, walking onto stage and being the best you that you can be in that moment. It is a powerful example of our students “showing their work,” one of the core pieces of the Hillbrook Way.

The Talent Show perfectly captures who we are as a school, the culture we have created. It’s a culture that puts student choice and engagement at the center of the learning experience, and that challenges learners of all ages to take risks, share their passions, and show their learning – and talents – with the community. Our culture is something that more and more schools and organizations want to understand. Like entrepreneurs eager to learn how organizations like Google, Apple, Microsoft, and Facebook shape culture, more and more educators are eager to understand how Hillbrook and other dynamic schools create a culture of intentional innovation.

This week, we were invited, along with a small group of schools from around the country, to share our innovation journey at the National Association of Independent Schools Annual Conference in Atlanta. The leaders of NAIS increasingly recognize that many independent schools are stuck, preparing children for a world of the past. They have invited Hillbrook and seven other schools from around the country to provide inspiration and concrete examples of how schools can provide an educational program that will prepare children for a future that we cannot yet imagine. We are sharing the Hillbrook Way, highlighting the myriad stories of how we are pushing ourselves to reimagine education so that we continue to achieve our vision – to inspire students to achieve their dreams and reach beyond themselves to make a difference in the world.

While a full exploration of Hillbrook’s innovation journey this past decade can be read here, at its core, we have focused on creating a culture of collegiality and collaboration that honors our past, and ensures we are continually reimagine our future. The topics we will present about include reimagining learning spaces, redesigning adult learning, unleashing student-directed learning, reimagining our use of time, and engaging in real-world learning beyond our campus. Within these categories are specific examples – the creation of the Resident Teacher Program, the development of our first-ever Middle School Reach Beyond Week this April, and the launch of the Scott Center for Social Entrepreneurship – that highlight our school’s approach to change.

How have we managed to do all this? The Hillbrook Way, a culture that guides everyone from our youngest learners to our most seasoned faculty members. The Hillbrook Way captures our conviction that the creation and continual renewal of culture—not just the implementation of specific strategic initiatives is what enables us to continually find innovative ways to better meet our vision and mission. While two ambitious and successful strategic plans have guided our actions, the commitment to the Hillbrook Way creates the environment in which innovation emerges from throughout our community, as adults and students embrace the opportunity to ask, start, collaborate, and show.

Returning to the Talent Show, a few of our 8th graders this year have performed in every – or nearly every – Talent Show since 1st grade. We have had the joy of seeing them grow up on stage these past 8 years, both literally and figuratively. Watching them this year, I marveled at their poise, their confidence, and their talent.

And, I realized, this is just one of the many ways in which Hillbrook students are given the space to grow, thrive and show their work. Other 8th graders are shining on our playing fields and basketball courts, in our classrooms, and in our community. 8th grade speeches at Flag, capstone presentations in May, and, of course, the 8th grade play, will provide other opportunities this Spring to see these students share who they are and how they have grown as learners and people. These experiences highlight what we know about learning – that an essential part of the learning process is the creation of spaces for children to show who they are, what they know, and what they are still striving to learn.

And, we know, this also applies to adults. Our adult learners share at conferences around the Bay Area and across the country and world, knowing that showing our work in conversation with other educators is a critical component of our lifelong learning cycle. Whether you are 5 years old, 15 years old, 45 years old, or, like Hillbrook itself, nearly 85 years old, we know that meaningful learning involves choice and engagement and provides ample opportunity for each person to ask, start, collaborate, and show.

Jan 102018
 

The inspiration board in the main office faculty and staff kitchen lines up with this resolution for 2018 – and Hillbrook’s theme of the year!

I was talking with a parent a little over a month ago, right after drop off. She was a bit harried, having just launched each child into the day. She sighed, and said, “I’m glad people don’t see me at home with my children. I’m nowhere near the parent that I want to be.” She went on to describe the conflicts she was having with her elementary-aged children, the controlled chaos of morning and bedtime routines, the difficulty of getting to school on time, the desire to be patient and present for her children and yet the challenge, in the moment, to achieve that goal.

I reassured her that she was not alone, and added that, on a personal level, I often felt the same way. “Be kind to yourself,” I noted, “You are doing the best you can. That counts for a lot.” She smiled and, later in the day, actually thanked me for my comment. She noted that she often feels like she is not doing enough, and it was helpful to have her feelings validated and to know that she was not alone in facing these challenges.

I thought of the conversation this past week as I was reflecting on the start of the new year. While I’m not someone who typically generates a lengthy list of resolutions, I do find myself each year thinking about what one or two things I hope to focus on in the year ahead. Thinking back on this conversation, I found myself drawn to the interrelated themes of judgment and empathy.

Contemporary society is awash with judgment. While judgmental impulses are nothing new (the term Puritanical exists for a reason!), social media has created a space that exacerbates this human tendency. Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and other platforms all too often use likes and retweets to reward vindictiveness, clever retorts, and the celebration of people’s mistakes, inadequacies, failures, and downfalls. The tone can be nasty and mean-spirited, and there is a re-creation of the worst of classic playground behavior. Just like with the playground bully, the rush to judge and taunt often seems to be driven by fear and insecurity.

Judgmental behaviors, particularly snap judgments, are often in opposition to the empathy we encourage our children to practice. Walking in another person’s shoes requires us to withhold judgment and to strive to understand what a person is thinking, feeling, and experiencing. Unlike the fear and insecurity underlying judgment, empathy is driven by hope and possibility. Empathy is usually harder than judgment, it requires us to slow down, to stop making assumptions, to listen, and to seek understanding.

Returning to the conversation I had with the parent, I was struck by how judgmental behavior impacts how we think about ourselves as parents. Our fear of other people’s opinions, particularly around something that feels as personal as parenting, can lead us to a place of self-doubt. Furthermore, our fear and insecurity about what our children will be like when they grow up, the classic, “How will my failure to do _____ ruin my child’s life,” can leave us feeling overwhelmed and discouraged.  

So, for 2018, I encourage each of you to stop judging yourself. Give yourself credit for being the best version of you that you can be at any given moment. Our children are resilient, and they will survive our imperfect parenting.

Then, apply this same thinking to those around you. Fight the urge to judge another child’s behavior, to criticize someone else’s parenting style, to become exasperated with your child’s inability to get something done. Take a deep breath, ask questions, seek to understand.

Choose hope and possibility, not fear and judgment. That’s my resolution for 2018.

Nov 172017
 

Walking on campus this week, I have found myself pausing to look. The dramatic color of the leaves in combination with the changing light of late Fall make for a tableaux that is consistently stunning. It is a period of time that I anticipate each year, a campus experience that I never take for granted.

Friday afternoon our students will gather together on the amphitheater stage, underneath the colorful canopy of trees, to sing a series of songs as part of Grandparents & Special Friends Day. It is essentially the same set of songs that we have sung for as long as most people can remember. I have several favorites – “Simple Gifts,” “Turkey Trot,” “The Leaves Turn Gold in the Fall,” but there is one – “Home is the Place” – that always strikes a particularly resonant chord.

“Home is the place where somebody loves you, I’m going there,

Home is the same old streets and people, yet I know they care,

I’ve traveled far, and I will travel more,

But my heart longs for my own front door.”

The words, to me, beautifully capture the place that Hillbrook holds in the lives of our children, employees, and families. There is a palpable sense of calm that I feel each day that I step on campus, a sense of coming home to a place where each person is known and valued for who they are. It’s a sense of the familiar and the predictable, of knowing that you’ll know the routines, that you will understand what is happening. It’s the feeling that comes from traditions, from having songs, shared values, and experiences that continue across generations.  It is the feeling of childhood joy and memories. It’s the feeling that draws alumni of all ages back to campus throughout the year.

At the same time, we are a school that is known for being innovative, for asking big questions and challenging ourselves to rethink the possible. We are not, typically, a school that does the same thing every year, that pulls out last year’s notes and repeats lessons from generations ago. We take risks, try new things, and continually strive to better meet our vision and mission as a school.

This past Monday, CFO Margaret Randazzo, Finance Committee Chair Vlado Herman, and I shared highlights of the initiatives that have emerged from Vision 2020 at the State of the School address. We highlighted how we are striving to reimagine the student experience, make Hillbrook a destination workplace for educators, create an increasingly diverse and inclusive community, and ensure the school’s long-term financial health. Initiatives shared included:

  • The creation of a new schedule for the 2018-19 school year that will enhance our ability to individualize the student experience and reach beyond campus to make a difference in the world.
  • Programs designed to extend learning beyond our campus, including Reach Beyond Week for all 6th-8th graders this Spring, and the newly launched Scott Center for Social Entrepreneurship, the only JK-8 center of its kind in the world.
  • The launch of our Flexible Tuition Model, which has allowed us to broaden the support we are able to provide to students and ensured we are accessible to families from diverse economic backgrounds.
  • Tangible evidence of our commitment to provide competitive compensation and benefits for our employees, as well as a dynamic and innovative environment, that ensures we remain able to attract and retain top educators to our community.
  • The launch of the community phase of the “Be Your Best” Capital Campaign and the incredible momentum that is developing to ensure we can complete the campaign and build the Hub

Clearly, we are not a school that is resting on our laurels.

So how do these two things coexist? How can we be both a place where children and adults feel a grounded sense of belonging AND a place where they are challenged to ask big questions and dream? How do you balance the tension between tradition and innovation?

The answer ties directly back to our history. The Village of Friendly Relations sits at the heart of our campus, an exemplar of the Hillbrook Way since the mid-1930s. The Village represented a leading edge innovative educational model, something that garnered us attention in a national magazine. It was an innovation that placed student choice and engagement at the center. It was an innovation that reflected our deep understanding of children and learning. It was an innovation that preserved and honored childhood. At Hillbrook, tradition and innovation are not in tension, they are forever intertwined.

In “As the Twig is Bent,” the school’s award-winning 75th anniversary video created by Paul DiMarco and alumni parent Felice Leeds, Richerd Cancilla, Hillbrook’s first graduate, describes the school this way, “Coming back to Hillbrook is like coming home. It feels so good to me that sometimes I just like to stay here and take it all in and just pretend that I never left.” Whether you are in your first year at Hillbrook or have been here for generations, I suspect you recognize that sentiment.

At this time of year of thanksgiving, I am grateful that my family and I are privileged enough to be part of this community, a place where innovation and tradition strengthen each other and where our vision – to inspire children to achieve their dreams and reach beyond themselves to make a difference in the world – remains as compelling today as it did in the 1930s.

Enjoy these videos: