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Shady Hill School dig deep

LET’S GET STARTED! 2 IT’S STICKY When students roll up their sleeves and have agency over their learning, the learning sticks. 4

UNPACK AND STAY A WHILE Central Subject and Thematic Study dive into the humanities, assuring deep-rooted mastery of skills, process, and content.


Integrated social and emotional curricula help students learn to appreciate difference, navigate conflict, and act with courage.


change - makers



BETTER TOGETHER Understanding each other helps build a community in which everyone belongs— at Shady Hill and around the globe.


IT’S IN OUR DNA Context fuels the habits of mind that make sense of the physical world and decode the beauty and meaning in numbers.


Flexible, responsive, varied, hands-on, and relevant… teachers make success look different in every classroom. 18 CHANGE-MAKERS

Shady Hill students make their mark here, at their next schools, and in the world.

aha! Every day opens wide. A clarion call for taking big steps... and little ones too—those that run with abandon and also those that linger with purpose. The intense focus of young minds at work and the spontaneous delight of children being children—these are the inextricable layers of the Shady Hill soundtrack.


Listen carefully and you’ll hear a kindergartner’s joyful realization that a puzzle piece fits and a classmate’s quiet awareness that words have power. You’ll hear the nuance of a third grader connecting a concrete skill to an abstract idea and a minor shift when a student validates a friend’s point of view. In the Hub, our STEAM center, a seventh grader realizes that there are many ways to solve a problem—and that there is satisfaction in taking time to solve the hard ones. Tough choices resonate too— like standing up for what’s right in a crowded room. And easy choices—like stopping to help a classmate open the door. Aha! signals a deeper understanding—of oneself, of others, of process, and of content. It’s knowing that you can be a spirited child, a serious student, and a thoughtful community member— that you don’t have to choose. Every Shady Hill day is punctuated with wonder as students fearlessly prepare to change their world. Dig Deep. Because the world needs change-makers.



Everything is connected— people, ideas, places, time. Real connectivity at Shady Hill is about weaving together strands of meaning. KEEPING UP BY SLOWING DOWN

Respecting a child’s pace means providing both time and space to explore possibilities, connect with others, and intentionally internalize new content.




A primary-source-based curriculum challenges students to be discriminating consumers of information. By adding originalsource perspectives, students construct their own revelatory body of knowledge.

it’s sticky “Knowing facts doesn’t separate you anymore; it’s what you do with the information that counts.” —MIDDLE SCHOOL MATH TEACHER

Deep learning can be a messy enterprise. It takes time and commitment to go beneath the surface, peel back the layers, make sense out of raw data, and convert knowledge to understanding. It might seem a little counter-intuitive to pause on a topic once we know the facts. But we are not passersby of information. We stop to ask “why;” we roll up our sleeves and engage in a collaborative struggle to discern meaning. That’s what makes the learning stick. And then we dig deeper to think about how we can turn our learning into action—to understand and affect an increasingly complex world that doesn’t come with an instruction manual.


When students are supported in both creative exploration and intellectual discipline, they benefit from the value in making mistakes on the path to proficiency.


Stay awhile “Shady Hill instills not only a love of learning but a love of thinking.” —LOWER SCHOOL PARENT


Central Subject and Thematic Study are the frameworks for collaborative exploration through which essential skills are honed and complex, interwoven understanding emerges. Central Subject’s yearlong investigation of a people, place, and period in history gives students in Grades 3–8 a vibrant humanities focus, while providing critical space for depth of inquiry. Thematic Study immerses younger students (Beginners–Grade 2) in targeted units of study—introducing meaningful context for emergent literacy skills and a growing sense of self. Every day we are pushing the content envelope around a big idea, intersecting new knowledge, and identifying connections well below the surface.



Thematic Study helps the youngest learners develop stick-to-itiveness, while laying the building blocks for academic and social-emotional growth.

When topics are developmentally relevant, they spark imagination, inspire both inward and outward reflection, and build communities of learners around common interests and goals.


Asking “why” and “why not” about one topic at a time helps reinforce listening, patience, and selfexpression. Kindergarten: All About Us

CENTRAL SUBJECT Grade 3: Whales & Whaling in the 19th Century

After studying the world’s largest mammals, third graders embark on a voyage to understand life, work, and nature at sea.

Understanding how we are different, but also the same, helps affirm a sense of self and connectedness to others.

Grade 4: Ancient Greece

Grade 1: Community

Grade 5: Modern & Ancient China

As first graders start to see themselves in a larger context, they explore what it means to belong. Grade 2: The Charles River

Second graders examine how surroundings affect society as they see the boundaries of their own world expanding.

Fourth graders connect with the heroes of Ancient Greece as they start to recognize their own courage and bravery. China’s narrative is vast, vibrant, and constantly evolving—balancing tradition with change—and mirrors the expanding horizons of freshly minted middle schoolers. Grade 6: Africa

The rich stories and diverse identities of Africa captivate students experiencing their own rites of passage. Grade 7: The Early American Experience

Seventh graders grapple with the complexities of colonization and growth, while developing their own sense of independence. Grade 8: United States Democracy & Immigration

As students prepare to move beyond Shady Hill, they are motivated by determined seekers of new beginnings.

Creating individual masks connects a yearlong study of Africa to self.

knowing O U R S E LV E S

“The first three rules for every day are be kind, be kind, and be kind.” —3RD GRADE STUDENT


A sixth grader reads to his lower school partner. Literary explorations in a Central Subject classroom consider impact versus intent. And a middle school math class calculates the percentage of people throughout the world experiencing food shortages as a result of drought. Shady Hill’s community and curriculum are overtly bound by abiding priorities of empathy and action. Through an integrated social and emotional curriculum in all grades, students develop a strong sense of self and learn to walk a mile in someone else’s shoes.




“I’ve learned how to hear other people’s opinions and that my opinion matters.” —8TH GRADE STUDENT

We are all partners (students, teachers, administrators, parents, and alumni) working together to serve one another here, and around the world. We value the diversity—in ethnicity, family structure, gender, gender identity, race, religion, sexual orientation, and socio-economic background—that makes us wiser as individuals and stronger as a whole. Through empowering affinity groups, an intentional multicultural curriculum, and collaborations with public schools, we challenge prejudice and honor the difference that informs human experience.



“Yes, you will learn how to get to the expected answer, but by thinking creatively you also generate other solutions that are just as valid— answers no one else has thought of. —ALUMNA ’09


Math and science, technology and engineering…these are the languages of our physical world. Through the discipline and methodologies that attend them, we fill a toolbox with portable skills that help students tackle unanswered questions. As students develop their analytical reasoning and design thinking abilities, they focus more on understanding how things work, how they are connected, and where patterns appear, than on memorizing facts and formulas. Students observe, analyze, practice, try, fail, and try again. Because they learn essential foundational content in relatable contexts, students also learn how to apply their knowledge in unscripted ways.


When you learn how to multiply negative numbers by rewinding videos of swimming pools filling and emptying, the concept takes on new and discernible meaning.

“The teachers know my child as well as I do.” —LOWER SCHOOL PARENT


World Language is taught through immersive listening, speaking, reading, and writing throughout the seventh and eighth grade years.

WORLD VIEW If we are going to change the world we need to understand it. That premise is our True North and guides all aspects of Shady Hill’s curriculum. Through the study of world languages, beginning in seventh grade, students continue to advance their understanding of world cultures—cultivating a sense of global kinship and an appreciation for difference. World languages are purposefully introduced in early adolescence with a sheltered immersion approach. When primary language learning foundations are deeply rooted, second language acquisition is not only more efficient, it is also more meaningful. French, Spanish, and Mandarin language arts become part of a more sophisticated body of knowledge when taught within a rich cultural context.


experience We are all partners in active discovery—thinking and questioning together. Teachers are the navigators in our side-by-side explorations—always innovating to make new knowledge real and meaningful, to go deeper, to engage students as individuals and also as a team of learners. Tackling topics with each other helps us value different perspectives. We are nimble learners at every nuanced juncture—fueling the curiosity in the room.

“No amount of technique or scholarship can make a good teacher out of a person who is afraid of experience.” — KATHARINE TAYLOR, FIRST SHADY HILL HEAD OF SCHOOL

TEACHING TEACHERS The world-renowned Teacher Training Center is an incubator for teaching innovation. Created in 1928 by Katharine Taylor, this groundbreaking program develops the skills and sensibilities of aspiring teachers through the experience of collaborating with Shady Hill’s master practitioners. The Center was the first institution of its kind and has inspired thousands of gifted teachers throughout the world. Learning at Shady Hill is a two-way street and every day the classrooms are illuminated by these collaborative and creative thought partners.


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room T O T H I N K

Less than a mile from Harvard Square is a uniquely child-sized 11-acre learning sanctuary—a liberating oasis in the heart of the city. Here, children run joyfully from the classroom to the gym; from the Hub to the library; from the art studio to the playground; from inside to outside and back in again—with time and space to breathe deeply, connect easily, and think literally

O U T S I D E T H E B OX .





When we give a child tools and the skills to use them, we awaken reserves of creativity that are primed for discovery and self-expression. We can stand back and let the magic unfold. Whether using a voice, a violin, a mound of clay, a paint brush, or a table saw, the arts at Shady Hill call for both inward reflection and outward courage. With studios and performance spaces always ready for art-making, there are daily opportunities to connect the abstract to the concrete and give form to imagination.


Physical Education activities energize every child in Grades 3–5 and are essential components of the complete lower school experience—with emphasis on social, conceptual, and physical skill development.


activate Students grab their cleats and head out to the playing field, or lace up their sneakers in the gym. They pick up a racquet, a ball, a foil. They become a striker, a forward, a server; and still they are the thoughtful learners they were in the classroom just 15 minutes before. Individual and collective goals go beyond running faster and jumping higher in the Shady Hill physical education and athletics program. A sequential game plan addresses developmental needs in order to advance physical, cognitive, and affective growth. Every spirited contest and instructional class helps students up their game individually and as members of a team.

Movement Education is an intentional framework for children in Beginners–Grade 2 whose emergent physical and emotional awareness flourishes with increasingly focused play.

Three seasons of competitive NEPSAC sports and 25 separate teams ensure that every student in Grades 6–8 will find a place to compete. Students can also choose one of many non-competitive PE electives.


“At Shady Hill, I never felt like I had to choose between my love of the arts and my love of math and science.” —Charlie Ann Jarvis ’11, Andover, Stanford, Co-founder FairPlay! using computer science to make the art market more inclusive and equitable

“As a life-long educator, I now see that Shady Hill always understood that progressive education and rigorous academic expectation can and do play well together.”

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A Shady Hill graduate is more than ready. Ready for next schools—absolutely. But also confidently and humbly eager to continue the work of becoming; to tackle new challenges; to embrace a world that is both beautiful and flawed; and to accept responsibility for making it better.

P A S T, P R E S E N T, A N D F U T U R E

—Christopher Barnes ’82, Putney School, Colorado College, Co-Founder of the High Mountain Institute and current Head of School, Midland School

“Physics by Design and Solar Car Club ignited my love for engineering. In both instances I was able to apply what I was learning on paper to something tangible. I was encouraged to ask “why” and given the tools to—in most cases—find the answers.” —Emma Sagan ’06, BB&N, Stanford, Co-Head of Product Management at Alloy, building data tools and infrastructure for the progressive ecosystem

“My eighth grade Central Subject teacher imbued in me a love for words and for history. I learned that history often depends where you sit and that the words you use can affect your interpretation of it. As a lawyer, one of the most important tools of my trade is language.” —Tim Steinert ’75, St. Paul’s, Yale, Columbia Law School, General Counsel, Alibaba

“When people ask—and they do—when I decided to become an archaeologist, the answer is always: Miss Eliot’s fourth grade at Shady Hill School. My older sister, Margot, also had her and also became an archaeologist. Fifty years after she taught us, Mary Eliot visited our excavations in Athens.Talk about influence!” —John Camp ’61, Brooks School, Harvard, Princeton, Director, Agora Excavations, ASCS, Athens, and Stavros Niarchos Foundation Professor of Classics, Randolph-Macon College

“At Shady Hill, I learned that a vibrant community is essential for fostering individuality. The Shady Hill community served as a social safety net, allowing me to take greater risks in discovering who I am and what I can do. I’ve used what I learned to help empower others all across the country in their civic and professional lives.” —Pratt Wiley ’91, Brookline High School, Georgetown University, Boston College Law School, President & CEO, The Partnership, Inc.


dig deeper We invite you to explore more and start discovering what kind of change-maker your child can become.

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The traditional all-school May Day celebration is a joyful, musical culmination of the year’s hard work.

617.520.5200 178 Coolidge Hill, Cambridge, Massachusetts 02138


M MIISSSSIIO ON N Shady Shady Hill Hill wants children children to be joyful, active active learners who develop develop the the intellectual discipline discipline necessary to to become become contributing, contributing, ethical ethical citizens. To To accomplish accomplish these ends, we we believe believe in in the primacy of of exploration exploration and discovery, discovery, we we advance advance the the mastery of skills, and we we help help students shape meaning meaning from knowledge.

Profile for Shady Hill School

Shady Hill School Viewbook  

Shady Hill is a private, coeducational day school in Cambridge for children in Pre-K — Grade 8. Considered one of the best elementary and mi...

Shady Hill School Viewbook  

Shady Hill is a private, coeducational day school in Cambridge for children in Pre-K — Grade 8. Considered one of the best elementary and mi...