Unlocking Potential at Sage Hill School

A Sage Hill education is much more than college prep. It’s about unlocking our students’ potential. President Gordon McNeill explains in this month’s blog post.
High school is obviously an essential stepping stone to college. But at Sage Hill, college prep is just one of the key aspects of each student’s educational experience. Every curricular and co-curricular opportunity at Sage Hill is designed to unlock our students’ potential, instill key skills, and prepare them for success in life. I recently read a fascinating article by Denison University’s president about a couple of studies on the aspects of a college education that result in the most positive lasting impact on graduates. What struck me is that a transformational Sage Hill education encompasses these very same factors, albeit at the high school level. They include:
  • Connections and mentoring between students and faculty members
  • Sustained involvement in at least one co-curricular activity that builds leadership and life skills
  • Experiential opportunities that pull together what students have learned
These three factors are completely interwoven in the day-in, day-out experience of being a Sage Hill student. Here’s how.
Connections and mentoring between students and faculty
Our remarkable faculty are expert in their fields and passionate about sharing their knowledge with students. They are equally excited about taking the high achiever above and beyond the curriculum as they are about inspiring a student to overcome struggles and succeed in their classes. In all cases, they help students develop the critical thinking skills they will need not only for college, but to solve the issues they’ll encounter throughout their lives. Furthermore, our teachers are able to give each student personalized attention because of our small class size. In this setting, students know their teachers genuinely care. Our small classes also allow for creative in-depth projects, student collaboration, and meaningful class discussions. Through their participation in class and direct engagement with teachers, our students develop confidence and essential communication skills.
One of the studies also pointed out the positive influence of peer-to-peer relationships, and I’d concur that this is equally important at Sage Hill. I’m not just talking about students who hang out together outside of school. I’m talking about students inspiring one another to learn and grow and participate. A prospective parent recently told me this was the very reason she was considering Sage Hill for her child. Our students set examples for one another by participating in class discussions, by trying a new sport or club, by taking the risk to go overseas or develop a new skill during Spring at Sage, by forming a service learning group, and so much more. Our supportive and inclusive school culture is one where it’s cool to try anything and everything. It’s an environment where each student’s potential is more likely to be unleashed because they aren’t inhibited from trying.  
Another key aspect of peer relationships at Sage Hill is how they advance our mission of promoting diversity, inclusivity and cross-cultural competency. Our students come from diverse racial, ethnic, cultural, and socioeconomic backgrounds, yet every day I see how fluidly they interact. I see a student body getting the opportunity to see how they fit in the world and how they can make the change they want to see. These are young people with character who, upon arriving at college and meeting their classmates from all over the world, welcome the unique perspective each individual brings to the table.
Sustained Involvement in Co-curricular Experiences
There is no “typical” Sage Hill student, other than to say the typical student is engaged. Our students are welcome to try all kinds of clubs and activities, and that includes using their creativity to form their own clubs. We encourage students to try new things, but we also encourage them to go deep within their interests. A long-term commitment over several years at Sage Hill builds myriad skills and, in many cases, inspires a future career. The freshman with no speaking role in the play might have the lead by senior year and go on to be an actor. Our award-winning debaters might go on to be attorneys. Our competitive robotics team members may be future engineers. Or not—but they’ve grown in their competencies in these areas, become leaders in these groups, and had a lot of fun along the way.
Experiential Opportunities
Sage Hill’s signature programs provide our students with unique experiential opportunities they cannot get at many other schools. Students gain hands-on experience through the Sage Hill Internship Program (SHIP), Service Learning, and Spring at Sage, as well as through unique curricular offerings in scientific research, global markets and financial analysis, engineering and more. We offer students the chance to explore established passions, but also to discover new ones.
A Continuum of Experiences
I’m pleased to know we are providing, at the high school level, what’s been proven to breed career and life success beyond college. And I think one of the reasons it works so well is because a Sage Hill experience is more than the sum of its parts. That’s because we have quite intentionally taken steps to make each student’s education a continuum of experiences, so we develop the whole student, focusing not only on what they are taught but how to apply that knowledge. It’s the reason we established the Sage Center to coordinate our academic and co-curricular programs, including Spring at Sage, Service Learning, SHIP, and our wellness, diversity and inclusion programs. We are consciously ensuring that each Sage Hill course and program integrates the core competencies known as the “6C’s.” It is no coincidence that I already mentioned each of the 6Cs— character, collaboration, communication, creativity, critical thinking and cross-cultural competency—in this blog post and put each mention in bold. These are skills found to be lacking in the workforce, but they aren’t lacking in Sage Hill students. Our graduates are differentiated not just by the knowledge they’ve gained, but by their ability to articulate that knowledge. Not just by their academic foundation, but through the skills they’ve developed to apply it. Sage Hill fosters strong faculty and peer relationships and offers meaningful co-curricular and experiential opportunities, with the core competencies woven throughout. This transformational experience sets up our graduates to reach their own greatest potential and have a positive impact on our world.
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    • <strong>Welcome to my blog!</strong> It’s easy to get caught up in the day-to-day business of the school -- this blog is an opportunity to share my perspective on Sage Hill School.  I invite you share your thoughts and suggestions for future posts. Feel free to email me at <a href="mailto:McNeillG@sagehillschool.org">McNeillG@sagehillschool.org</a>.
      Mr. McNeill's Blog

      Welcome to my blog! It’s easy to get caught up in the day-to-day business of the school -- this blog is an opportunity to share my perspective on Sage Hill School. I invite you share your thoughts and suggestions for future posts. Feel free to email me at McNeillG@sagehillschool.org.

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