Wednesday, July 11, 2007

Getting Them Outside

My daughter attended The Hill School in Middleburg, Virginia for nine years. Hill has a 130 acre campus in Virginia Hunt Country and has some exciting things going on that bring children closer to nature. I recall simple things that they do, such as the mile run, which students in grades 4-8 run every day, but there's far more than that happening.

The Hill School Arboretum today consists of an apple orchard of antique varieties, a Colonial Native American garden, a butterfly garden, a tree circle where eight common native trees are arranged on the points of the compass, a maturing hedgerow of native species, and the new Cork Tree Garden, which showcases ornamental and prairie grasses. More than 700 trees and shrubs and 2,000 conifer seedlings have been planted during the past six years. The Arboretum enhances the school's curriculum and provides a community resource rich with alternative plant materials and ideas with a sensitivity to the environment, habitat development, species preservation, and natural beauty.

For the past several years, Hill has been working to use nature to enhance learning, build character and responsibly, and foster community. They accomplish this by integrating nature into the entire curriculum, K-8; by working to build a sustainable facilities operation; and by responsible stewardship of the land.

Hill has worked with Stephen Kellert of Yale, and others on this project, and as a Hill Parent, I can say that the work is paying off, and is a model for other independent schools with a land base, and at least partially, other schools as well.

We'll keep track of Hill's progress and report back.