Highland is a democratic international boarding and day school founded in 1981. It operates using a similar democratic structure to Sudbury Valley School and other Sudbury Schools. Learning occurs through daily social interactions and self-directed experiences. Children develop personal responsibility through the process of making their own decisions. Students' individual rights are fundamental at The Highland School. These rights are described and protected by our School Constitution. Highland’s “Bill of Rights” can be found at the conclusion of our Constitution. By valuing individual rights the community at Highland creates a safe place for all school members. Each child no matter how small has the same rights as other children and adults.
Students choose what they will learn or what projects they will pursue. Staff members are available to provide support or help with resources if needed. Individual activities are wide ranging. For example activities may include unstructured play, preparing for a driver's test, or reading a book. Members often organize voluntary meetings to plan group activities. Special interest groups plan everything from trips to creating the school newsletter.
Each school member, students and staff, have a vote in the decision-making process. All meetings, events, activities, and field trips, are discussed and voted upon at General School Meetings. Proposed rule changes, community issues, and personal projects are also handled at the General School Meetings.
Transitioning into independence is a much less daunting task for Highland graduates who have spent their entire lives learning, planning, deciding, and pursuing their interests, goals, and passions. Participating in daily life at Highland is hard work, but the long term skills students develop help them succeed throughout their lives.
Each individual child is unique and intrinsically valuable. We believe a democratic community, where children are equal and their rights are protected, is the best environment for children to learn and grow.
Each school member has an equal vote in the decision-making process. The daily interactions of school members make up the heart of the school as we solve problems, create activities, and live our lives together.
Individual responsibility for decisions is at the core of our school life. In addition to making meaningful choices about their lives, children can pursure their interests in as much depth as they desire. They also have a wide range of opportunities in which to participate; including ongoing interest groups and activities, as well as governing the school.
We believe that students will learn to take responsibility for their decisions. Being willing to make mistakes and learn from them is critical to intelligent growth. In our democracy, students have the opportunity to develop the self-confidence to find out what they need to know, even if they are exploring a previouly unknown area. They gain the self-disipline to persevere in following through on personal and social commitments.
Learning is a continuous lifelong process. Children are born curious - ready to learn and explore. Children from the earliest age reach out and interact with the social and physical environment. As they grow, children pursue their interests and develop strategies for learning. Through self-directed activities, they reflect and learn from their interactions.
Most learning takes place informally - through sharing with others of various ages, by watching someone more skilled at an activity, or through experimenting with new interests and experiencing the consequences.
Time and trust are necessary elements in the learning process. Time is needed for us to reflect upon our experiences and choose ways to deepen our interests. School members can pursue their own interests for as much time as they desire. Students explore and discover their interests, talents, and passions by choosing what they do each day.
The trust of our community supports students in making their own decisions. Learning to be responsible, to make intelligent choices, and to make sense of our world takes commitment both from students and from other school members.