How Do We Love High Meadows? Let's Count the Ways!

It's February, the month that greeting card companies and florists have chosen for us to celebrate the beauty of love! Love is all around at High Meadows, all year long. 

As you will read in the pieces below, High Meadows is cherished by its students, parents, and teachers, and has also earned the deep respect (if not love) of organizations like the Progressive Education Network (PEN) and SAIS, our accrediting organization.

What do I love about High Meadows? What's NOT to love? But if I had to put it into one statement, here it is: High Meadows honors that children are capable of sophisticated thought and expression; paradoxically, we are exceptional at preserving the innocence and wonder of childhood.

Here's hoping that you will join us at High Meadows in sharing the love that abounds this February!

Much Love,
Jay's signature

Jay Underwood
Head of School
Joyful Kids Loving Learning
By Christine Ramsey, parent of William (4th) and Matthew (1st)

Students Running on the Meadow

I headed up the High Meadows driveway with my boys on this brisk, sunny February morning, and around the bend to the carpool drop-off, where they were greeted by a schoolmate and happily leapt out of the car. My first grader caught up with some friends and headed off to class, smiling and happily chatting away. My fourth grader, however, upon hearing the upbeat music that was playing at carpool, threw down his backpack and unabashedly began to dance. On this particular morning in the carpool line, I had a minute to pause and look out the window and just soak in my child's joy in this moment. I could not keep myself from smiling. The sun was shining, the music was loud, and his happiness was infectious. The teacher who was directing the carpool line greeted him by name and sidled up next to him to join in the dancing. Whatever stress we felt in the morning commute melted away in that moment. I thought, "Now this is how every child should begin their school day."
Fortunately, as a High Meadows parent, I know that this joyfulness will follow my children into their classrooms. Under the skillful and loving guidance of the teachers and staff at High Meadows, our children experience the joy and the love of learning: the excitement of intellectual discovery, the pleasure of pursuing their natural curiosities, and the satisfaction of bringing their plans, projects and ideas to fruition. They continue to experience this joy as they explore their natural world, make new discoveries and grow to know and love all the nooks and crannies of this beautiful forty-acre "classroom."
I recently heard a quote commonly attributed to poet W.B. Yeats: "Education is not the filling of a pail, but the lighting of a fire." This is an excellent metaphor for the magic that our children experience every day at High Meadows. Is this what we envisioned for our family when we drove up this tree-lined driveway to attend an open house seven years ago? It is everything we could have wished for and more.
It's All In the "Moments that Matter": Creating Confident and Critical Thinkers
By Wendy Schmitz, parent of Sandra (6th) and Davis (3rd)

The Schmitz Family--Davis, Wendy, Mark & Sandra

Our family joined the High Meadows community eight years ago when we moved abruptly from California to Georgia. During my first trip to scout our new environment, a friend referred me to High Meadows. As soon as I entered the campus, I felt the school was a special place that would positively impact our family.

Our daughter Sandra began at High Meadows in PreKindergarten and is now in Sixth Grade. Davis, our son, has grown up with High Meadows and is now in Third Grade. As new parents to the school, we wanted assurance that our children would receive everything they needed to be both a solid academic student and a positive contributor to the greater community. A High Meadows parent of older children shared her thoughts with me: All primary and elementary schools are focused on providing children with the "fundamentals." Of course, that's true at High Meadows as well, but the school also teaches the children much more critical functions--how to learn, how to love being a student, how to build confidence as learners and how to trust in their abilities. Now, as a parent of a Middle Years student, I know her counsel was spot on.

Looking back over both of my children's experiences, I have learned that the secret to their academic and personal growth lies in the multitude of "moments that matter," rather than one moment when everything clicked.  Here's how I know my children are thriving at High Meadows: the moment their confidence is displayed when it was previously masked; the moment I have to tell my children to STOP reading because it is time to do something else; the moment math is used to solve a problem at home, not because it is homework, but because it is part of the internalized problem-solving inherent in both of my kids.

Those "moments that matter" are also displayed in the teacher's interactions with my children. High Meadows teachers are truly involved in my children's well-being and are genuinely interested in their success and their participation in their learning. Sandra's Middle Years teachers engage with her and her peers on topics and at a depth that I don't recall having until high school, including politics and the election; robotics; reality projects such as running a storefront or a restaurant; conversational Spanish; Shakespeare, and more. To support the integrated learning experience, many of the projects span multiple subjects to drive home their real-life applicability.

High Meadows has offered us a unique experience and has provided my children with an academic foundation that broadens and deepens as they grow with their studies. The sense of community has been important to us as a family as well.  Knowing that our children are developing as learners and are challenged daily, along with their classmates, has further validated why High Meadows is such a critical component of our developing future.  
What Do Other Progressive Educators Say About High Meadows?

High Meadows recently hosted a group of educators participating in the National Institute for Progressive Education Network (NIPEN). What did they observe during their experience? In their own words, they saw:
  • a wonderful sense of comfort among the students
  • children sharing their favorite places in the garden
  • across PreK-8, engaged students and lots of discussion
  • ponies, chickens, sheep, goats, oh my!
  • the word autonomous used with young students
  • an example of the kind of rigor I want with my students
  • open, curious and polite students
  • children very comfortable engaging in critical thinking skills
Want to Learn Something New Everyday? Teach at High Meadows! 
By Gail Albert, Prekindergarten Teacher

Ms. Albert and a PreK student

Eight years ago, I began working at High Meadows. I remember coming back to campus after my first winter break, and on my walk to class that morning, thinking, "I'm excited to be back!" It went through my head that I couldn't possibly tell anyone that. It sounded crazy--even to me--but I felt so grateful to be working here. It's even more crazy to say that I continue to feel that way. 

At High Meadows, I'm learning something new everyday.  Everyone--faculty, students, parents--is a teacher here! The young children in my classroom are open to learning and want to experience something new every day. By following the children's questions, our learning together takes new shapes and forms. Their families are always part of our learning community. We support each other with the same goals in mind. 

Having a co-teacher is both the most challenging and the best part of my job.  It's like a marriage: the relationship takes work, but the rewards are always greater than the effort put in. Looking at a student through two sets of eyes results in our knowing the children as unique individuals with unique learning styles, which enables us to set goals for our students. When I need additional support, I can look to any teacher or administrator here. The experience and knowledge they have, and the dedication they show, continues to encourage me to give more. I am honored to teach with them.

I often feel like a salesperson when I am speaking about High Meadows because it seems too good to be true. However, my feelings are all based on my experiences here. I love teaching at High Meadows--it is truly how school should be! 
High Meadows Provides Acceptance and Community for Middle Years Students
By Genna Fidati, 8th Grader

I started at High Meadows five years ago, when I was in the Third Grade. Now I am in Eighth, my last year here, and I have had nothing but positive experiences. One of the best things about High Meadows is that it encourages individuality. My classmates and friends accept me for who I am, which I know doesn't always happen at other middle schools. High Meadows has many different types of people and is very open to diversity, which makes it a special place. 
I also love High Meadows because of the connection that students have with teachers. Our teachers understand that not all subjects come easily to all students, and they often present material in interesting and innovative ways so that we all can learn. Our teachers also respect students. They value our input and want us to participate in our learning. Even though we are learning from them, we students feel as if our teachers are our friends. We know we can count on them to support us and help us.
I love that High Meadows is open to and accepting of all types of people, regardless of race, religion, gender, sexual orientation, or anything else that may set someone apart from others. I have gotten a great education here, and although I will be sad when this year is over and I go on to high school, I know High Meadows has prepared me for that step.
Do You Heart High Meadows? Here's One Big Way to Show Your Love

With our emphasis on love this month, High Meadows School is inviting you to participate in the HMS "Show Your Love" fundraising campaign to support the High Meadows Fund. We are encouraging you to 'Show Your Love' for HMS by making an effort to make a pledge or donation to the High Meadows Fund in the month of February. We know your kind donation is truly from the heart and is greatly appreciated.

Your donation plays a critical role in being able to continue the important programs we have here at High Meadows School. Our students are enriched by the amazing faculty we are able to recruit, enhancement to the technology, and facility upgrades we are able to perform. Please "Show Your Love" by making a gift online. Donations may be paid immediately or pledged now and paid by May 1. Thank you in advance for "Showing Your Love" to the High Meadows Fund during the month of February!

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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High Meadows School | 1055 Willeo Road | Roswell | GA | 30075