Letter from Our CAO

Dear Colleague:

I am pleased to introduce you to The Hague School, a new independent high school in Norfolk, Virginia which welcomed its inaugural ninth grade class this fall. Our school is designed around The Hague Approach, a focused way of learning through collaboration and conference style discussion. Research shows that this method of teaching cultivates a love of learning while developing critical thinking, problem solving, and communication skills.  At The Hague School, there are no rows of desks!  The conference method of instruction sits at the center of The Hague Approach, which evolved from other conference methods and incorporates research into psychology, systems theory, and innovative pedagogies while integrating non-invasive digital technology.

Conference method instruction places student inquiry and engagement first. Rather than a teacher lecturing to students seated in rows of desks, students and their teachers all participate in a round table discussion, offering one another new perspectives and ideas. This peer-led emphasis inspired our group of educators to bring this valuable pedagogy to Hampton Roads, incorporating “Harkness Method Discussion” from Phillips Exeter Academy in Exeter, New Hampshire (where it has been utilized since 1930) and combining it with the International Baccalaureate curriculum.  

Who are the luckiest students in Hampton Roads? We believe they are the students at The Hague School. Our entire faculty and staff ensure they receive an education which will prepare them for the college of their choice, through a curriculum that focuses on the how of learning, rather than the what. The underlying premise of The Hague Approach is that learning how to learn is of utmost importance.  By combining conference method instruction with the International Baccalaureate Programme and interdisciplinary themes, e.g., plastic pollution, climate change, gender studies, innovation, entrepreneurship, etc., The Hague School prepares its students to prepare for a collegiate environment around the table.

We foster a positive relationship with each student, a partnership with every parent, and a fellowship with our entire community.

Our mission is to develop a culture of learning, a community of inquiry, and a character that contributes to the betterment of our society. More than just words, this is our commitment to our students and their families. Our society urgently needs responsible citizens who can discern credible sources, articulate their ideas and bring positive change to the world. We hope our approach, as outlined in the accompanying booklet, inspires you – please join us in creating this exciting educational venture!


Paul Warren, Provost & CAO

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