Springside Chestnut Hill Academy
Springside Chestnut Hill Academy (SCH) was pretty impressive and will most likely check all your boxes. The biggest thing that sets SCH apart from the others is that they offer single sex education for boys and girls from Pre-K to 8th grade. Then from 9-12th grade students receive a co-ed education as they prepare for college.
The campus is on 62 acres and includes beautiful fields, access to an ice rink, an adventure challenge course in the woods, a ton of squash courts, a woodworking studio, a pottery studio, an art gallery (a real one), dance studio, indoor crew training room… I could keep going but I think you get the idea. I said it before and SCH is no exception… schools in our area, especially ones that go to the 12th grade, have more of a college campus feel then the high schools that the majority of us grew up going to. It’s impressive, it’s overwhelming, and it is the way things are now. The school really is phenomenal with what it can offer its students. Because of that I am going to skip over their playground, school garden, and amazing turf fields. Instead let’s talk about what makes them different.
- Single Sex Education grades Pre-K to 8th.
For me single sex education until 8th grade with a co-ed high school sound like the perfect combination. In Jr. High some of my guys friends went to The Hill School. At that time The Hill was an all boys school. I can tell you without any hesitation that they were so painfully awkward around girls especially in their 20’s that I would never consider an all boys school for my boys. However as a girl in Jr. High I was so nervous about getting the answer wrong in math class, because the boys would make fun of me, that my anxiety kept me from paying attention in class. To this day I actually have no idea if I really am “bad” at math.
What SCH has done is recognize that boys and girls learn differently but they also realize that we all have to deal with the opposite sex at some point. Let me tell you from being an experienced wingman… the time to learn how to work with the opposite sex are NOT in your 20’s. Making me a huge fan of how SCH structures their lower, middle, and upper school.
Yes, I was in awe of their robotics lab but I was right to be. I asked around and the SCH Robotics lab is the best in the area and clearly rivals any college level lab. On the day I arrived I got to see the beginning stages of two girls building an airplane. Yeah. The girls wrote the manufacturer of the airplane company and he sent them a complete kit to build. In exchange for the free 40K kit, the girls are testing and making their own changes to the kit as they build. Hopefully the weather warms up before the girls outgrow the lab and have to take their project outside.
Most of the equipment has been donated by the SCH families and yes they have 3D printers, but that is probably the least sophisticated thing in the lab. The SCH Robotics Lab truly is the definition of, if you can dream…you can make it.
- Stanford State of Mind
A few years ago the Stanford Design team came to SCH for an intense learning session with every single person that works at the school. From the crew that prepares the beautiful grounds to the Headmaster everyone learned the Stanford Design Process. Why? Schools like SCH have realized that their job is to educate kids for jobs that have not even been created yet. The only way to do that is to teach kids how to adapt, problem solve, and think for themselves. So from Pre-K up to 12th that is exactly what the students are conditioned to do. Outside the girl’s kindergarten room I was able to see their Stanford design process being applied to their annual project. Turns out the process is pretty identical to the one my boyfriend uses everyday working with fortune 500 companies. #goget’emgirls!
- Center for Entrepreneurial Leadership (CEL)
In 2012 SCH launched their Center for Entrepreneurial Leadership (CEL) and they describe it best:
“In grades 5-12, all students follow a CEL course of study that is integrated into the traditional curriculum. These classes teach technology, design, and entrepreneurship through hands-on, project-based lessons. Students interested in entrepreneurial experiences beyond the classroom may choose to participate in the CEL Venture Incubator, an after-school program for developing businesses and products under the supportive guidance of expert mentors.”
When I walked into CEL I was blown away by how much space and resources SCH has dedicated to instilling entrepreneurial values and skills in its students. Visually it is stunning and 50% fortune 500 boardroom and 50% makers space (one of the many maker spaces on campus).
Entrepreneurs are more born then created. In my experience you either are one or you’re not. So how does CEL apply to the non-entrepreneurial students? I had a ton of questions. Then I remembered they have been learning and utilizing the Stanford Design Process since they were in pre-school, and preparing for this. They have been learning how to adapt and adjust to accomplish a task. Although the process might come more natural to some students over others all SCH students have the ability to tackle their CEL courses.
- Adventure Obstacle Course
Not many schools have an obstacle course built-in the trees in their backyard but SCH does. SCH is deeply committed to outdoor education and the ropes course is one of the many tools the school uses to get kids climbing and moving outdoors. The high and the low ropes course are situated in the woods, giving participants the feeling of climbing in the trees. In 2nd grade, students start on the low ropes course and by 4th grade, they are ready to move onto a high course that is completely in the treetops. The courses are used all the way through high school and it’s loop of activities allows users to move at their own pace and continually take on new challenges. Outdoor challenges are presented multiple times a year, in every grade, from hikes, to climbs and boating trips. It is a program that is taken seriously. K students have “Friday in the Forest” and all 9th grader spend their 1st week of school on a 5 day outward bound trip in the woods.
Every time I leave a school I am blown away by the opportunities kids have. Go take a tour of SCH but be prepared to have things added to your “list” at a level you never knew existed.