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 in 2019.  Since then, the school has grown – adding one class per year – with these original ninth graders now enrolled in the IB Diploma Programme!  Our school uniquely combines Harkness conference method learning with the IB curriculum.  Research shows that this process-focused approach cultivates a love of learning while developing critical thinking, problem solving, and communication skills.

At The Hague School, there are no rows of desks!

Harkness discussion occurs around oval conference tables, which places student inquiry and engagement first. Rather than a teacher lecturing to students seated in rows of desks, students and their instructors 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 from Phillips Exeter Academy in Exeter, New Hampshire, where it has been utilized since 1930.

IB Diploma Programme students develop continued curiosity and thinking throughout their lives.  These traits prepare them for the future, as universities can attest:  Over 2,500 colleges and universities recognize the IB Diploma and grant college credit for Diploma Programme courses. 

At The Hague School, “worldview” and “international mindedness” are lively terms that immediately connect with our students, not as places on a map, but with faces and names.  Our school’s partnership with the Harkness Institute’s schools in San Luis Potosi and Puerto Vallarta, Mexico bring our schools’ students together in Harkness discussions of global issues and differing societal perspectives  through weekly joint classes.  The digital world has made cross-cultural exchanges a regular part of our students’ educational experience and, as an IB World School, will remain a part of the school’s mission.

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 pedagogy and curriculum that focus 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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