Road Trip Discussions, Part 1

DSC_0170Road Trip Discussions, Part 1

Just got back from a 2-1/2 week road trip, one that found me on all three of our nation’s coasts and enabled me to meet with all sorts of cool folks and experience a range of emotions from happy to sad, from serious to fun.

During some meetings with educational consultants – professional counsellors who place about a third of Hyde’s students – I was asked some timeless questions, timeless in the sense that they have been on the scene ever since I can remember and my memory as  Hyde person goes back to 1968 when I enrolled as a freshman. So, I thought I’d post some slices of the Q & A.

Q: So, what’s the Hyde mission these days?
A: Our cardinal belief has been constant from the very beginning: Every individual is gifted with a unique potential that defines a destiny.

Sadly, fifty years later, many of the national educational and familial problems that gave rise to that statement also remain unchanged.

If given a 15-second sound bite to summarize THE problem, I would say: We (as a nation) care more about what they (American kids) can do than about who they are… and they know it.  As a result, American kids and families are alienated from their own schools.

If I had another 15-second sound bite for the solution, I would say: Let’s change our emphasis from aptitude to attitude, from ability to effort, and from talent to character.  That’s what we try to do at Hyde.

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Q: OK, Describe Hyde’s unique slant on doing that?
A: Decades ago, we carved out our very own genre: family-based character education.  We are all about three emphases:

1.   Character – Character is not an “add-on” at Hyde.  It permeates everything we do.  I’ve never encountered a school that makes a bigger deal about it than we do.  Each one of us – students, teachers, and parents – must regard our own character development as a lifelong pursuit.  We like to say, “Use it or lose it.”

2.   Family renewal resulting from real parent participation – While parents begin Hyde with an enrolled child, we are determined that they will depart with a stronger family than they ever could have imagined.  However effective I might be as a teacher, years ago, I learned a very important lesson: Put bad parenting up against great teaching, bad parenting wins.  We like to say, “School is for kids; Hyde is for families.”

3.   College Preparation – over 95% of Hyde’s graduates attend four-year colleges.  Hyde graduates of the past five years have been studying at such schools as Bowdoin, Clark, Colorado College, Dickinson, Elon, George Washington U, Gettysburg, Hampden-Sydney, Kenyon, Lake Forest, Lehigh, McGill, Mt. Holyoke, Northeastern, NYU, Occidental, Skidmore, SMU, Stanford, Syracuse, Tulane, Union, Virginia Tech, Villanova, Wheaton; and the Universities of Arizona, California (Berkeley, Santa Barbara, San Diego, Santa Cruz), Colorado, Denver, Indiana, Massachusetts, Michigan, Montana, New Hampshire, Oregon, Redlands, Richmond, San Francisco, and Washington.

We’re not merely “all about” these three objectives, we’re the only school that is.  Some schools might enjoy benchmark status when it comes to one of these emphases singularly, but Hyde is the only choice for prospective families who seek to accept the challenge of all of them collectively.

More to come. Onward, Malcolm