Rolling Hills Prep, REACH and Renaissance Schools
Rolling Hills Prep, REACH and Renaissance Schools serve students in grades 1–12. The schools are situated on 24 acres that feature plenty of outdoor space and a state-of-the-art beach volleyball facility. Their outdoor education program offers a weeklong outdoor adventure to students from every grade level, and students enjoy a variety of clubs, arts groups and athletics facilitated by the teaching faculty. In 1994, Rolling Hills Prep adopted four pillars as guiding principles that the schools still emphasize today: Disciplined Minds, Sound Character, Healthy Bodies and Creative Spirits.
Tell us about your three schools.
The REACH program was founded in 2019 to provide a specialized learning environment for students facing academic or social challenges. Utilizing a small classroom approach, REACH offers an inclusive and supportive community for every student to thrive.
The Renaissance program, founded in 2004, provides innovative educational approaches for students with learning differences such as ADHD and dyslexia. Each student is equipped with a learning support team focused on supporting executive functioning and self-advocacy. Renaissance cultivates a culture of inclusivity, curiosity and creativity.
Founded in 1981, the Rolling Hills Prep (RHP) program provides a rigorous academic curriculum in a stimulating learning environment where all teachers integrate multiple learning approaches and emphasize hands-on educational experiences. RHP challenges students to explore their strengths as they realize their limitless potential—prepare them for success in college and in their future careers and life endeavors.
All of the programs prepare students for success in college and beyond.
What’s the most important thing students learn at your school?
Our alumni often cite that beyond being well prepared academically for college, they are also well prepared to advocate for themselves. We work with students to help them uncover their potential. Part of that process is supporting students in learning how they learn best and what tools they need to be successful. Many of our alums report that they feel comfortable talking to their college professors about how they learn and advocating for what they need.
How do you encourage a student who is frustrated?
It’s all about building and having a great relationship with the student and their family. Small schools offer the advantage of stronger relationships. When a student is frustrated, we work with them to uncover the source of the frustration. Ultimately we see this as a learning opportunity or “growth” moment for both the student and the school. We help them identify the real issue, work on potential solutions and allow the student agency in determining which solution they want to try.
Tell us about your leaders.
Our school leaders are highly competent and have strong backgrounds in the areas they lead. They lead with compassion and curiosity and hold our community accountable for the high standards that we set for ourselves and our students.
What’s the best way to encourage a lifelong love of learning?
Teaching students and their families that making mistakes is a big part of the learning process. Too often in independent schools, there is a “pressure cooker” mentality where work is piled on students and the culture supports competition and getting the right answer. While there is a place for competition, it has to be supported by the understanding that making mistakes is part of the process. This understanding leads students to take more risks with their learning and ultimately leads to a passion for lifelong learning.
How do health and wellness play a role in what you offer students and their families?
Health and wellness are so important to us, we have a director of counseling and wellness on our senior leadership team. We understand that you cannot learn if you don’t understand the connection that health and wellness play in being successful. We offer opportunities for parents to connect in ways that promote their own wellness and help them understand how to support their student’s health as well.
What are some ways parents can enhance their child’s educational experience?
By working in partnership with the school. Staying involved in ways that support the school—such as being an active member of the family association, participating in annual giving and attending school events—enhances their child’s experience.
What schools do your students attend post-graduation?
We are a prep school, so our outcome for our students is always college. Our graduates attend the University of Southern California, the University of California, Los Angeles, and Stanford University, as well as small liberal arts schools like Goucher College and the University of Puget Sound. We focus our college placement process around the “right fit” for the student. Not every prep school student should go to Stanford, but if that is their true fit, we strive to make it happen.
Photographed by Kassandra Vergara