Classroom and Campus Activities Foster Community

High Meadows families enjoyed the Fall campout on the upper meadow.
Promoting a sense of community at school and in the wider world has served as an important part of High Meadows' philosophy since our founding and continues today as one of our guiding principles.
"Community is about relationships," said Kate McElvaney, Director of Educational Advancement and Director of the Center for Progressive Learning. " We foster community through our classroom, campus, family, and community activities to help create invested and engaged learners and caring citizens of the world."
Fostering Student Community
At the beginning of the school year, students in each class work together to establish their Essential Agreements, a set of expectations everyone agrees to follow. Preschool, Lower Years, and Elementary Years classes also create jobs that rotate among students in each classroom. These roles serve as anchor point for students, helping them understand and feel part of their classroom community.
Middle Years students elect  a Student Council that meets weekly to vote on matters of interest to the that student body, run a school store, plan spirit week, and manage the student government budget. They also meet with members of the Board of Directors to maintain a connection between the students and the school's governing body.

All students enjoy multi-age play each day on the meadow, which cultivates friendships across grade levels. 
Buddy Program Promotes Connections Across Grade Levels
Younger and older students enjoy spending time together in the Buddy Program.
The Buddy Program pairs younger and older students together, which students in all grades love. They get to know each other and share in activities such as reading time, Earth Day activities, and writing letters to each other.  The program has been at the school for many years in different forms. Now,  each class determines what activities buddies do together, but all students eat lunch with their buddies every other week and enjoy sitting together at monthly Community Gatherings.

"The students love spending time with their buddies," said Lori Kennedy, Lower Years
Students in 4th/5th grade classes are paired with K/1st buddies.
Assistant Principal. "Older students take ownership of being role models and kind community members. Younger students are thrilled to make a connection with older kids and see them around campus or at Meadow time. Building these relationships strengthens our school and displays to students how to build a community."

Community Gatherings Offer Fun
Monthly school-wide Community Gatherings foster stronger connections among students.  This year, 8th grade students will lead the gatherings. Other new aspects include a walk-in song, student talent acts, a fun question students will discuss with their buddies, and  a 'Guess the teacher/staff member' segment in which students will listen to clues and try to guess who is being described. Once the person's identify is uncovered, he or she will read the Acknowledgements that have been submitted. Birthdays are noted at the gatherings, and the theme for the next meeting is announced so students and teachers can learn about the topic and take action related to it.
Getting Families Involved
High Meadows wants families involved on campus. Parents and grandparents are encouraged to volunteer as mystery readers and pony ride helpers in younger grades, help organize Fall Festival or Earth Day activities, drive teacher appreciation lunches, and participate in our parent organization, among other activities.
"We want families to feel part of the High Meadows community and invite them to join in their children's educational journey by sharing their knowledge and perspectives with students," McElvaney said. 

She noted that parents have previously shared their personal immigration stories with 4th and 5th graders, which is the current unit of study for those grades. Also, architects, designers, and builders are needed now to talk with Kindergarten/1st grade students.
Last school year, High Meadows grandmothers Pat Boren and Linda Lawson started an initiative to help grandparents learn about the school community and how they can get engaged on campus. Through their work, more grandparents have volunteered in classrooms, worked in the library, helped students during Secret Shop, and filled in on Grandparents Day for students whose family members couldn't attend.
Also, each Summer, High Meadows pairs families who will join the school in the Fall with a current family with a child in the same grade. This lets new students and their families get to know people and ask questions as they prepare for a new school and learning environment.
Community is One of High Meadows' Guiding Principles

'Community' is one of High Meadows' Guiding Principles:  We understand, respect, and appreciate differences within our community, enabling us to be compassionate, responsible members of our global society.
Six Factors to Consider When Visiting a Private School

There are few decisions families make that have greater impact than selecting a
HM Director of Admission Laura Nicholson
school. It's all about finding a fit - not just for each child, but for the whole family.  Laura Nicholson , Director of Admission, is often the first person that families connect with when exploring High Meadows as a school option for their children. She meets with families to showcase High Meadows' campus and learning philosophy and conducts school tours, open houses, and classroom visits. Off campus, Laura and her family love to spend time outdoors and can often be found hiking, fishing, and camping. Below, s he shares factors to consider when evaluating whether a private school fits your child and your family.  


How do a school's values match those of your family?

Look to a school's mission statement to help you understand what matters most to them and evaluate how that fits with your family's priorities and beliefs. Consider a school's environmental emphasis, academic focus, religious curriculum (or lack thereof), diversity and inclusion programs, and global view, among other factors.

What indicates to you that your child is successful? Does that match the proposed "outcomes" of the schools you're exploring?

Think about what makes you feel your child is successful. Do you want your child to focus on academics, social-emotional growth or both? Do you want him or her to be curious intellectually as well as confident, compassionate and academically prepared? Evaluate what a school focuses on in its curriculum and overall program to determine if the proposed outcomes of an education there match your hopes expectations for your child.

If you're making a school change, think carefully about what dissatisfactions or disappointments drove your decision to look elsewhere.

If you are considering changing schools, evaluate WHY you are doing so and envision what you want your child's day to look like from an experiential standpoint. Do you want your child to have time outdoors each day? Is an art or music program important to your child? Do you want your child to learn to collaborate and problem-solve? As you explore schools, initiate conversations to clarify what to expect in the areas you deem important for you and your child.

Imagine how you would like to be involved at your child's school.

Do you want to volunteer in classrooms or share your talents in some way with the school? Make sure your expectations align with how prospective schools like to engage parents. Some schools encourage parents to be involved more than others do. Ask the Admission team about that and look around as you tour to see how parents are involved.

A school can feel perfect to you but, not be a right fit for your child.

You may love a school for many reasons, but how it suits your child's learning style and how your child feels about it matter most. Think about your child as an individual and as a learner, what he or she finds motivating, his or her areas for growth and the kind of environment he or she feels most successful in typically. You might feel drawn to a quiet, orderly classroom when your child thrives most in a program with more stimulation and movement (or vice versa). After all, your child is the person going to the school every day. Talk with your child how s/he felt about the school. Were children and teachers welcoming? Did they include your child in activities? Can your child imagine him/herself at the school?

What does your gut tell you?

The way you feel on a school campus as you interact with people and places is important. Your child's school is going to be a significant place for you as parents, too. Look at the relationships you observe during your visit. How are teachers and students interacting? How are administrators working with parents? Make sure the school is a place that feels comfortable and is somewhere you and your child can call home.
Application Process Open for 2019-2020 School Year

High Meadows has begun accepting applications for the 2019-2020 school year. For information about the school and the admission process, visit  or contact Director of Admission Laura Nicholson at  or 678-507-1170. 

Alumni Stories: The Lawson Family 

Linda Lawson, mom of Drew Lawson (class of 1989):
We heard about High Meadows from Drew's preschool teacher whose first child went to Kindergarten there. She really talked the school up, so we checked it out. Drew started Kindergarten at High Meadows in 1982. He absolutely loved it! We loved the High Meadows philosophy. The teachers knew that every child has a gift and capitalized on that.
Fall Festival was a High Meadows tradition in the early 1980s when Drew Lawson was a student.
It was great to be at High Meadows then and still is today. The school had animals and tipi, just like now. The school office was in Stone Cottage then, and there wasn't air conditioning in classrooms. The first hot lunches were on Fridays when Domino's Pizza was delivered to the kids who had ordered it earlier in the week.
Drew went to High Meadows through 6th grade, the last year the school went to at that time. When he transitioned to Dean Rusk Middle School in 7th grade, he missed outside time. At High Meadows, they played in the gully (now called the Ditch). He loved that. Another difference we saw was finding out how Drew was doing. High Meadows has always had conferences. I called the middle school to set up a conference, and they were shocked and said they'd let us know if problems came up. My husband and I insisted on a conference and had one regularly with his teachers after that.
Avery (standing second from right) plays on the High Meadows Ultimate Frisbee team.
Drew wanted his daughter Avery to go to High Meadows, so he and his wife Nicole visited the Farmer's Market the school hosted then. When Nicole saw the beautiful campus and the wholesome food, she was sold! On Avery's first day at High Meadows, Drew pulled up the driveway to pick her up and said it was one of the greatest days of his life. Avery adores High Meadows. She has lots of friends and is on the Ultimate Frisbee team.
Drew Lawson, Class of 1989 and Dad of 5th Grader Avery:
I loved being outside at High Meadows. Playing in the
Drew and mom Linda at his presentation about the Space Shuttle in preparation for the trip to space camp.
meadow and the woods was wonderful, and we also played basketball and soccer. We performed plays in the old barn theater and took fun trips to places like t he Space Center and Charleston where we stayed on the Yorktown aircraft carrier. We had lots of opportunities to do projects and learning that schools don't do now. 

Having a child at High Meadows is great! Experiential learning is so important. Kids connect what they are doing to the real world and see how they will use their knowledge. Avery loves it at High Meadows and has a ball there.
Drew's class visited the U.S. Space Camp in March 1987. His daughter Avery will go there in January 2019 on the HM 5th grade trip. 

My mom was a nurse working full time when I was in school, but she and Middle Year Principal Pat Wolf worked together to start S.H.A.R.E., the  parent-teacher organization. It's  great that my mom is so involved at the school now with Avery a nd is getting other grandparents involved. It's important for them to be a part of their grandchildren's education. High Meadows is such a great place!

Middle Years Small Engines Mini-Course Teaches Both Life and Problem-Solving Skills

The Small Engines mini-course is one of many STEAM classes in the Middle Years program.
Middle Years students enroll in mini-courses throughout the year to try something new or pursue a passion. Course offerings vary, but mainstays include debate, music/band ensembles, technology, life skills, theatre and production programs, philosophy, fine arts, product design, outdoor living skills, and yearbook staff. STEAM classes are part of the course rotation and include engineering challenges, metalsmithing, environmental project, 3D Maker, knitting, and cross-stitching.
Students explored 4 cycle lawnmowers, 2 cycle chainsaws, and small rototillers.
This year, some  students selected a new Small Engines course. They explored how a 4 cycle engine works and took apart 4 cycle law nmowers, 2 cycle chainsaws, and s mall rototillers. Their goal is to see what the engines look like, figure out how they work,  and try to fix them. Teach er David Engbritson said students learned how to use tools, gained a feel for which ones would work best in different situations, and had to use problem-solving skills. "A lot of experiences presented themselves in class that are life experiences. Students had to keep working to find a solution even if it wasn't fun anymore, and that certainly happens in real-life," he said. The course will be offered again later this school year.

Eighth-Graders Explore Roles and Set Goals

Each year, our eighth-grade class goes on a two-day, two-night retreat on the Lower Meadow. They set up camp, prepare meals, swim, go rock climbing, and play games - all designed to help them bond as a group. They also set goals for the school year, create essential agreements, and explore the roles they play in the broader school community: elder, leader, student, and peer. It's a powerful experience and treasured rite of passage for the students.
Upcoming Events
Family & Community Partnership Series Offers Conversations About Education Today

High Meadows encourages learning from everyone in our community and wants to be a beacon for conversation about what is important in education today. The school's Center for Progressive Learning offers many events to help families and members of the larger community learn together. "We invite current and prospective families and community members to come learn with us and about us," said Kate McElvaney, Director of Educational Advancement and Director of the Center for Progressive Learning. "Our Family and Community Partnership events originated from questions parents asked about High Meadows, such as 'How do I learn about High Meadows? How do I describe the school my kids go to?' Those are great jumping off points for discussions with our broader community."
Free Event: Parent Survival Guide to the Digital World

Join us Nov. 8 from 7:00 - 8:30 p.m. to learn what parents should know
about successful parenting in the Digital World. RSVP for this free event where Alan November, an international leader in education technology, w
ill present:
  • Critical Thinking on the Internet
  • Managing and Learning From Social Media
  • When Parents Should Say "No" and "Yes"
  • Turning Digital Fear and Anxiety Into Digital Hope and Excitement
  • Creating a Safe and Creative Digital Learning Environment
  • How the Digital World Improves Learning
November has been a director of an alternative high school, computer coordin ator, techno logy consultant, and university lecturer.  His areas of expertise include planni ng across curriculum, staff develop ment, new school design, community building , and leadership development. He was named one of the nation's 15 most influential thinkers of the decade by Technology and Learning Magazine. He has written numerous articles and best-selling books, includi ng his most recent book,  Who Owns the Learning?   He is most proud of being selected as one of the original five national Christa McAuliffe Educators.

The High Meadows community celebrates and perpetuates each individual's quest for knowledge and skill, sense of wonder, and connection to the natural environment. We empower each to be a compassionate, responsible, and active global citizen.

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