With the oh-so-many options for school, it can be overwhelming to pick the best fit for your kids. We love schools that foster community both in and out of the classroom, so when we came across Stuart Hall School in the Shenandoah Valley of Virginia, we knew we had to share! Stuart Hall School is an Episcopal day and boarding school providing a college preparatory education for day students in grades 3-12 and boarding students from around the world in grades 8-12. Stuart Hall is well known for its stellar reputation with a rich 177-year history.
Considering sending your NYC kids to boarding school but not sure what the experience will be like? Ask a recent graduate of Stuart Hall about being a boarding student and they’ll immediately start telling you about the unplanned moments of their lives: sharing a pizza late on a Saturday night, lingering after dinner to finish a conversation, or decorating a friend’s room for their birthday. Because of its location in a safe downtown, these spontaneous dorm experiences are augmented by forays into independence, like sharing a banana split with roommates at the local gelateria, competing in a chess match with day students at a coffee shop, or bingeing on fresh cider donuts with dorm parents at the farmers’ market. The residential life program at Stuart Hall is designed to foster these moments, because they believe that the unplanned moments are the best part of boarding school, and we agree!
This is not to say that the Residential Life program is without structure and support, though. Dorm parents look out for their students as if they were their own children, choosing to work with each student as an individual rather than take a one-size-fits-all approach. Students have a proctored, two-hour study hall every evening, during which dorm parents visit with students, help with homework, or become the sympathetic ear students sometimes need. Your kids will have a required lights out time, room cleanliness checks, and parents, you’ll love this one: lessons on doing laundry!
Day students and boarders alike experience the Student Life program as they pursue existing passions and explore new interests. Our favorite part about this program is that learning happens well beyond the classroom. Your kids will develop confidence as they build relationships, take on leadership roles, and contribute to the community.
So what else is special about Stuart Hall beyond their Residential and Student Life programs? We’re obsessed with their Mastery Learning Program, which is an approach to education that focuses on truly learning a concept, rather than just memorizing and moving on. Teachers and advisors support your young scholars and create individualized plans for the pace of learning and form of assessment. Mastery learning provides students the opportunity to reach their highest potential, and better prepares them for the challenges of today’s world.
Finally, we want to highlight Stuart Hall’s six Graduate Goals. Grades are important, but mastering the skills takes priority. The goals focus on critical thinking, creativity, communication, citizenship, collaboration, and well-being.