Accolades

Here’s what people are saying about our approach to instruction, faculty and staff, and the opportunities given to students while attending The Hague School… 

Community

“I recently observed an Environmental Science class at The Hague School and witnessed firsthand the effectiveness of conference-style learning.  With annotated materials and their laptops in hand, students gathered around the table with their teacher where they engaged in what quickly became an in-depth exploration of the subject of water pollution.  Except for the teacher’s clarifications and directed questions, the students were front and center in the conversation.  They discussed.  They posed questions.  They searched for answers.  They shared the information their research unearthed and considered the veracity of their findings.  They developed a list of relevant terms and definitions.  They created a concise list of key points.  Their enthusiasm was palpable.  They were engaged!  Best of all, they were most definitely learning.”  – Susan Motley, M.A., Retired Secondary Teacher
“I am very excited and supportive of the innovative approach to learning underway at The Hague School.  Students are engaged in unique critical thinking tasks that will prepare them for the challenges of the 21st Century.” – Dr. Stephen C. Jones, Former Norfolk Superintendent of Schools  
“An opportunity to change the process of existing institutions like secondary education comes along once in lifetime, but that is exactly what is happening right now at The Hague School in Ghent, Norfolk.  Paul and Jennifer Warren, along with Head of School Michael Spencer, have introduced the Harkness Method of teaching high school students in groups of no more than 10-12 students sitting literally around a conference-type table with the instructors teaching as facilitators rather than lecturing.  But if you doubt the Norfolk area needs another private school, put that concept out of your mind; in the case of The Hague School, seeing and hearing is believing!  Make an appointment to come and sit with the students and their instructors as they learn a traditional curriculum – in fact based on that of the International Baccalaureate Programme – in a brand new way.  You’ll end up confirmed that there is another way to teach high school students…that’s real learning!” – Alan Flanders, Ph.D, Former columnist, author, and university professor
Working with students at The Hague School on the processes of doing and reporting textual research, I was very impressed to see how engaged they were and with school’s approach to education.  I do not always get this level of engagement with my college students, so these ninth graders are building a strong foundation for standing out in higher education. Likewise, I was pleased to see that these students have a good working knowledge of quantitative and qualitative research, as well how to distinguish between primary sources and secondary sources.”  – Kevin E. DePew, Ph.D., Associate Professor of Writing Pedagogy, Old Dominion University 
“I had the pleasure of leading a program on marine debris awareness with ten wonderful 9th grade students from The Hague School.  We learned about decomposition rates for different types of pollution in the water and cleaned out our three Seabins located in our Nauticus marina to remove marine debris from our Elizabeth River.  I was truly impressed at the level of knowledge they shared about our environment being affected, from plastic pollution in our waters to excess CO2 in our atmosphere, as well as ways they can help resolve the issues of marine pollution.  The world is definitely going to be a better place to live in because of these amazing students!” – Susie Hill, Nauticus Special Programs Manager
“This is what Hampton Roads has been waiting for…a REAL college preparatory high school!  It’s learning for knowledge and not memorizing for an SOL exam.  Visit an Open House and learn more about the Harkness Method teaching style being offered at The Hague School and how it will help render young leaders ready for college and beyond.  It’s flat out incredible.” – Brenda Reid, Vice President and Southside Manager of Howard Hanna Realty
The conference method of instruction is every teacher’s dream.  You’re working as one of a group.  You’re not on the spot; you’re part of a team, a learning team.  You’re prepared, you’re engaged, and you’re responsible.  It’s not one person benefiting, everyone benefits.  The conference method of instruction is particularly important in science as it teaches students how to communicate their knowledge, allowing them to move people, move policy, and influence the world.” – David Engel, Ph.D, Environmental Science Teacher – Fairfax County Schools
“What they say about life is so true – you remember people for how they made you feel.  Mr. Spencer always made me feel important and seen, which meant a lot to me as an awkward high school student.  He was a no-nonsense administrator, but he had a heart of gold and a great personality.  I’m excited to see that another generation of students will be benefiting from his leadership!  -Lucy Hundley, Marketing Project Manager, Tidewater Community College

Parents

“When our daughter was in eighth grade and toured all of the local high schools, her perspective and feedback was simply that: “they were all boring; everyone just sat at desks and stared at the front of the classroom; the teacher just lectured and no one talked.”  When she found The Hague School she was immediately impressed by the inclusive, discussion-style learning model, and recognized the positive impact it would have on her personal growth.  We supported her interest in The Hague School, saw for ourselves that the learning model was a well-established and proven concept with a long history of success, and were very interested to see how our daughter responded to her new high school as the academic year started.  We have been incredibly impressed with The Hague School and its impact on our daughter’s attitude, maturity, and self confidence. She is developing the ability to think critically, to engage in debate and discussion, and she is happy. After seeing her progress this year, we absolutely recommend The Hague School to any future families. – Brian Hogan
“We just moved to Norfolk from New York City, where our daughter had visited and applied to 20 different selective high schools.  After all of this, how surprising for us that the best choice of all was in Norfolk, VA, where we unexpectedly moved for my husband’s job.  The Hague School has a level of personalization, rigor, and warmth that is made possible by its small size and dedication to the Harkness method of instruction. Our daughter is already becoming better at thinking, debating, and crafting ideas of her own with supporting evidence.  We feel very lucky to be a part of this new education community.”  – Jennifer Stillman
“We gave The Hague School a chance, and I’m so glad we did.  My daughter has blossomed there academically, and we credit much of that to the conference method of teaching.  The students sit at conference tables, much like in the business world, and discuss the different points of each subject while supporting their ideas with the material.  This has proven to be much more effective for her than sitting at a desk and listening to a teacher lecture.  She interacts with the other students and teachers, resulting in a much deeper understanding of each subject.  The teachers, by the way, are fantastic – much more akin to college professors, but in a small group setting.  In the months since school has started, it has become very obvious that the teachers and administrators alike genuinely care about my child’s progress and wellbeing.  I can’t say enough good things about this school.”  – Parke Brinkley 
“The Hague School has proven itself to be a breath of fresh air educationally for my son.  The Harkness Method ensures that each student has an opportunity to fully engage in class discussion and be valued for his/her respective point of view.  In an environment where his ideas are valued and no child is overlooked, he is learning to think critically and substantiate his opinions with supporting facts.  We believe this method of teaching will give him the skill set needed to be an effective global leader and  fully blossom in preparation for college. ”  – Dawne Brown El
“Our daughter is a very quiet student who is is being challenged in new ways at The Hague School.  She is being encouraged to research, investigate, and question as she brings her thoughts and ideas to the conference table to share and discuss.  As parents, we are so excited that she is a part of this new high school and love the academic philosophy and small classes.  Our daughter is being exposed to amazing adventures and lessons that we feel will have a great impact on her learning and her life. – Jacqueline Drotar 

Students

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