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Posted March 25, 2003 

Eagle Hill School
Hardwick, Massachusetts
Erin Winn, Admissions

Visit November 20, 2002
By Claire Law, M.S., IECA, CEP

[C. Claire Law, M.S. IECA, is a Certified Educational Planner (C.E.P.) She helps families find the right college and boarding school for their child.If you have any questions or comments you may e-mail her directly.]

[This article is reprinted from the January 2003, #101 edition of Woodbury Reports, to correct inaccuracies. – Loi Eberle, editor]

I just returned from Eagle Hill School in Hardwick, MA and discovered that they no longer offer 6th and 7th grade. This information is still in the literature because they are waiting for the Board to approve the change. Apparently the school does not have a peer group for 6th and 7th graders and has not been successful in the past, in mainstreaming them with the rest of the students in the higher grades. Thus, Eagle Hill will focus on grades 8-12, which does not help me in placing an NLD girl who will be entering 7th grade next September. She has a sweet personality, a sparkle and better social skills than would be anticipated from reading her evaluation. Well, she’ll have to wait one more year before going to this wonderful school.

Eagle Hill has excellent support for students with learning disabilities as well as non-verbal learning disabilities. It offers very small classes with teacher-student ratios of 4:1. They use whatever method of instruction is best for the child, such as Orton-Gillinham, Linda Mood Bell and multi-sensory teaching approaches for NLD students. Thus the instruction is very individualized to the child's needs.

This is a school for the student with the usual organizational and executive function deficits and is kind-natured, cooperative, polite, funny and "preppy". You will not find hyperactive or destructive kids at this school.

The tests required for admission are the WISC III and some other academic testing such as the Woodcock Johnson. Eagle Hill School accepts students with an average to above average IQ. They will take students with skills within two to three years of grade level. The school makes sure that there is a peer group for the incoming students so that newcomers make friends and fit into the system easily without disrupting the routines of the students already enrolled.

This school is on a four-year attendance philosophy because the belief is that these students are best served by staying in one consistent place the entire length of high school. Eighth graders are accepted so that they may better prepare themselves for the transition to high school. The summer program also facilitates this transition since students are making friends with teachers and other students while they are exposed to an introductory academic program and many fun-filled extra-curricular activities such as swimming and soccer. In the fall, student life and academics start off in a structured manner and gradually give students more rein to make their own decisions and develop their independence. By the time students graduate they are able to be more independent and make their own decisions.

The social aspects that are so important in adolescence are not ignored here. The teachers and staff observe the students and write their comments into a technologically private computer program. This way, the teachers and staff know what is happening to each student daily, by sharing observations, all teachers are on the same page and understand how a student is behaving today, and so they can address social and developmental issues as they happen. This feedback is given to the student and provides a way for them to understand how they come across to adults and can improve their behavior as the day goes on.

The Pragmatics program is offered to all students. The school found that all students, regardless of their type of learning disability, benefit from learning to practice better social skills, understanding social cues and conventions, balancing checkbooks and keeping budgets.

Eagle Hill School looks great. One side of the campus is where all the classrooms are located. They have a new graphic arts building and a longer, single-story classroom building. Four more houses will be built for the Faculty and teachers. The dorms have been renovated and look fresh and functional, and have clean and cheerful common lounges on each floor. EHS offers lots of extracurricular activities for these students, from private voice and guitar lessons to the regular list of sports (soccer, basketball, track/cross country, wresting and tennis). There was snow on the ground today but the sun was shining on this school so it was picture perfect. I found it rather convoluted to drive up there, especially if you try to take any short cuts. It's only 100 miles from my home but it took me 2.5 hours to get there. It’s best to take the Mass Pike rather than to take 190 North and then try to weave through Worcester MA.

The tuition is $38,575. They have no financial aid. Students deposit about $2,800 in the student bank for laundry services and other allowances. There is a school store that sells snacks and such items that is manned by students and is open after study hall hours.

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