Hillcrest Heights School of Excellence was created and is run by homeschooling moms.
Cindy Lane, or Ms. Cindy, as she’s known to her students, grew up entirely in the public school system. She attended the Klein school district for grades 1-12, after which she pursued and earned her bachelor’s degree from Texas A&M University. All five of her children were homeschooled.
Natalie Clark, or Ms. Natalie, is a product of both homeschooling and the public school system. Her five children have attended public school, charter school, private school, and been homeschooled. Together, Ms. Cindy and Ms. Natalie have a depth of schooling experiences to glean from.
HHSE implements a mastery approach to education.
A mastery-based system is different than the traditional approach to academic learning. In a mastery-based classroom, front-of-the-room lectures are swapped for teacher-created instructional videos and other resources. This allows the students to learn at their own pace and move on when they are ready. The teacher is available for more personal one-on-one discussions and flexibility in how to effectively use their class time with their students. Students complete assessments designed to show mastery of the topic, not completion of assigned work. Mastery checks and summative assessments replace the standard quiz or test.
We love the mastery approach to learning! It substantially decreases the amount of stress often experienced by teachers and students in traditional classrooms. A mastery-based classroom provides a framework for students to become teachers to their peers; those who have mastered a concept are available to help guide other students who may be stuck on that concept. The small but frequent mastery checks allow teachers to give real-time, in-class feedback to students while removing the burden of grading large stacks of tests and quizzes outside of school. Absent students can simply pick up where they left off; no need for a stack of make-up work. The mastery approach is the antidote for the students who want their portfolios to reflect much more than just test scores and attendance days.
HHSE creates a holistic student experience.
The word ‘holistic’ is commonly used when referring to natural medicines and practices. In education, it simply means that instead of focusing largely on one part of a learning experience – academics – a student is provided an environment that focuses on the ‘bigger picture.’ The bigger picture is a conglomeration of life skills and personal experiences needed for success as a young adult.
What is truly necessary to build confidence, competence, and charity in a young adult? Through seeking answers to these questions we have become even more convinced it is not about a GPA or an SAT score. Students need outlets and opportunities that challenge them beyond the textbook. Our programs at HHSE are designed to create those outlets and provide those challenges.
Through the Transition Program, our students participate in a wide variety of life skill-building classes and projects, including time management, investing, buying a car, and home maintenance. They also attend Career Navigation events where professionals from a vast array of different careers and professions invite our students to their place of business and introduce them to all aspects of their job. Through our partnership with Lone Star College – Montgomery we can guide our students to enroll in dual credit courses, in either the academic or trade skill track.
Each of our students is provided opportunities to learn and practice leadership and problem-solving skills, as well as how to work with others in a group setting. Through experiences like student-led Physical Development classes or designing and planning Field Day, each student is heard and learns to hear others – both skills necessary for successfully navigating adulthood. Our Development courses, such as Drawing, Chess, and ASL introduce students to new interests and abilities they otherwise may not have discovered on their own. These are just a few examples of the types of experiences we create and combine to foster a holistic learning environment at HHSE.
HHSE is a private school.
This may seem obvious by now, but it is a common question we are asked. We are not a charter school, a boarding school, a parochial school, or some sort of homeschool co-op. We are K-12 private school that relies on tuition to support our programs.
We are located in Magnolia.
Well, ‘New Magnolia,’ to be exact. The dividing line between (new) Magnolia and (old) Magnolia is somewhere near Magnolia High School. HHSE is located near the intersection of 1488 and 2978.
Our campus is highly accessible to students who live in The Woodlands, Montgomery, Conroe, northern Tomball, northern Spring, and (old) Magnolia. We meet on campus in person, but have been kicking around the idea of offering online classes for distance learning. We also have plans to open additional campuses at other locations in the future.
HHSE is not a traditonal Christian school.
What does that mean? Simply, we are connected to or funded by any religious institution or organization, and we do not formally teach Bible classes. HOWEVER, we do practice Judeo-Christian values and principles in our school. The distinction is that while we do not formally preach the doctrines of Jesus Christ, the standards to which we hold ourselves and the way in which we treat others exemplifies Him. We welcome students from all religious backgrounds to visit and attend our school with open arms, just as we believe the Savior would.
We start each school day with a prayer before we recite the Pledge of Allegiance. Our students and staff agree to abide by a Code of Honor and Community code that are both based on Christ-like morals and standards. We feel that the strength found in the combination of Judeo-Christian, conservative, and patriotic values fosters an environment of morality and integrity much needed in the world today.
Innovation and independence are vitally important to us.
We love freedom and independence, especially when it comes to how we develop and run our programs. While this entire process of opening a school would be much easier and faster if we were simply another branch of an existing school, we weren’t looking for fast and easy; we are on a continuous quest for the BEST. Of course, we recognize that ‘best’ doesn’t exist when it comes to schools – there are so many good and effective ways for students to learn, especially when you account for the variety of learning styles, home life situations, and social-emotional challenges. What we’re really focused on is answering the question, “how can this be done BETTER?”
By creating HHSE independently, we have the freedom and flexibility to make changes how and when needed each time we discover a better way. This allows us to innovate and improve upon methods and practices that already exist, and fuse them into a more effective program. This is our ultimate goal for our Hillcrest Heights – to always provide the better experience for our students to learn and grow.
We're just getting started!
HHSE is nowhere near complete! Of course, it would be awesome if already our student body was filled to capacity, our programs were robust and running flawlessly, and our specially-designed campus was completed, but the reality is that all great things usually start from humble beginnings. We don’t mind reality; we know that in time Hillcrest Heights School of Excellence will be everything we described, and more.
We can’t wait to connect and build meaningful relationships within our community. We are constantly working on building and enhancing our student programs. A thriving athletics program, a whimsical drama program, and a grand musical program are just a few of the items on our working list. There’s much more to Hillcrest Heights than currently meets the eye, so stay tuned!