[Note: At the time of my visit, Richard Truluck was admissions director. Recently Woodbury Reports learned that the new admissions director is Melissa Burroughs.]
When I pulled up to the Hyde campus, there was road construction in the area and I entered on the backside of the campus. I followed the directions and pulled up to a large building sitting on top of the hill, which I assumed was the "mansion." It was deserted. Having just talked with them on the phone, I thought to myself, "Ok, this is a little weird. Nothing like what I imagined Hyde would look or feel like." I walked inside and looked around; no one was there. So, I went back outside and called Richard Truluck, then Admissions Director, to make sure I was in the right place. Sure enough, I was in the wrong place and I have to admit that I felt a sense of relief as I drove further up the driveway and caught a glimpse of the real "mansion."
Driving up to the mansion felt very much like driving around a college campus. Students were busily changing classes or crossing the driveway to the student store. Some were studying in the yard, but all were dressed professionally in slacks or skirts and ironed dress shirts with sports jackets. Most of the kids were very friendly with me, some too busy studying to notice a visitor, but the feeling was definitely that of a small, elite university. The campus was beautiful, clean cut and very well kept with a Renewal Center, several large dorms, a student store, a huge gymnasium, the cafeteria building and the extravagant mansion.
The mansion is divided into classrooms and administration offices. There are a few common areas for students to gather for support meetings, and a student center where the children run a peer culture group. The students at Hyde implement most consequences and hold each other accountable for both appropriate and inappropriate behaviors.
The two students who took me on a tour of the campus delighted in sharing this prestigious environment. As we walked the campus, they proudly talked of their educational success at Hyde. They shared personal limits they'd overcome with their families while at the school and goals of what they still hoped to achieve. They explained the Hyde concept of "Brother's Keeper," where peers show commitment to their own welfare, but also to the welfare of other students.
Hyde School is a college preparatory, character development school; they don't consider themselves a "therapeutic" or "traditional" boarding school. Upon admission, the students are somewhat troubled underachievers and must be motivated to make a commitment to education and succeed. The behavioral changes happen as a by-product of building on students' strengths and academic success. Each student is required to participate in competitive team sports and performing arts, in addition to college prep classes. Class sizes range from 7-15 students per class, and many students participate in advanced level academics in the Hyde Scholars program.
Parent participation is also a required component of the Hyde process. Parents participate in monthly regional meetings in their home areas, a winter regional retreat, fall and spring family weekend, and one three-day family learning session, which takes place in the Renewal Center.
At lunch, Richard explained Hyde's Philosophy of Character and how the school differed from traditional or therapeutic boarding schools. Five words describe the Hyde students' experiences: Courage, Integrity, Leadership, Curiosity and Concern. The staff works to form the students ethically, and encourages each student to take advantage of the peer culture. They also focus on character development, college preparation and family renewal. The Hyde School considers their purpose as "preparing students for life, helping students learn, and embracing and adopting a character compass that will guide them for the rest of their lives."
After a busy lunch in a rather full cafeteria of students and staff, Richard walked me around the front of the mansion and down to the duck pond. It was a peaceful ending to my visit as several students gathered on the lawn to study. I took one last look at the elegant campus as I climbed into the car and drove out the front gate.