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The Hyde School

Berkeley Parents Network > Reviews > K-12 Schools > The Hyde School



April 2009

I'm wondering if anyone has experience with, or knowledge of, Hyde School's Summer Challenge summer camp? There are a few reviews of Hyde, an east coast boarding school, on BPN but I'm specifically interested in their summer camp experience as a stand-alone. (I know many families use it as a kind of orientation for kids that will go on to stay for the school year.) It's very expensive, but if it's potentially as transformative as it sounds, it could be worthwhile for my 14 year old son...I'm definitely open to other camp suggestions as well. Thanks! emily


We sent our daughter to Hyde last summer and were hugely disappointed. She reported that just about every kid there was battling drug addiction issues -- that wasn't what the school had told us and that wasn't her issue at all. She didn't find the experience transformative, and there was sort of a cult mentality among parents that I found very objectionable. Given the expense, we could have found a camp that was fun and enlightening or done travel that would have been more illuminating. Feel free to email me if you want to ask any further questions. ann
I'd like to speak in support of the Hyde Summer Challenge. My daughter (who was a real pistol, I have to admit) loathed the program until her last week, when she realized what extraordinary friends she had made in that short time. She attended Hyde for 4 years, and was a counselor at the Summer Challenge in her last year. She got into several excellent colleges and graduated with a double major. She is now a teacher, and is a loving, self- supporting, and hugely empathetic adult.

The main reason students don't do well at Hyde is they lack the support and commitment of their parents. I agree there is a kind of religious fervor to some of the long-time parents, but if your child -- intelligent, talented and from a good family, but somehow failing at life -- had, in just a few years, managed to turn their life around, and your whole family dynamic had dramatically changed for the better, you would probably be a little starry-eyed about Hyde, too.

Another interesting thing about Hyde is that about a third of the staff seems to be older siblings of kids who had attended Hyde -- young people who were so impressed by the change wrought not only in their sibling and in their whole family system that they actually take time out of their own lives to ''give back'' to Hyde.

I hear about kids who have complained about ''abusive'' punishments. My own daughter was so difficult that finally they just gave her a pair of manicure scissors and told her to cut the lawn. That gave her some time to think things over for sure. I hear about kids who complain about confrontation at Hyde. But what I saw was peer pressure being used in a positive way: older Hyde kids using the influence of their good example to get the newer students to shape up. It worked for my daughter is all I can say, and she speaks of Hyde with great affection and pride.

It sounds like the family that wrote in was a poor fit, and I'm sorry about that. It takes a lot of good character to see what Hyde is about, and that's what makes it such an amazing and special place. It changed our lives, all of us, and I'm deeply grateful to the committed and dedicated teachers and administrators that work 24/7 to help kids to see what an extraordinary person they could be if they would just dare to give themselves a chance. Another Mom


Could I respond with one last note to the parent who emailed in support of Hyde? She said, ''The main reason students don't do well at Hyde is they lack the support and commitment of their parents.'' I think this is unfair, uninformed and -- in our case -- untrue. If you are like most Hyde parents you visit the school once or twice a year and you really don't see or interact with the parents who are unhappy with Hyde. I don't think you are in a position to make this kind of over reaching statement and would hope that you speak just from your own experiences. Thanks for reconsidering. Supportive Mom Unhappy with Hyde
Sept 2008

Re: Chronically truant 17-year-old smoking weed, won't come home
Check out the Hyde School. It changed my teenager's life -- so much so that my daughter went there to teach for two years after graduating from college to ''give back'' in thanks for what the school did for not only my son but our whole family. www.hyde.edu. LP


May 2008

Re: Placement for smart, depressed 16-year-old?
Google the Hyde School in Bathe, Maine. I think they work wonders. In the same boat


I also suggest you contact the Hyde School in Maine. I know both programs personally. Hyde is at the other end of the spectrum. They do not have therapists on staff. It is an excellent, very supportive program but not a therapeutic one. The admissions directors are warm, caring people. Call them and talk to them about your son. If he is not right for them, Hyde will be the first to tell you. Hyde emphasizes character education, connection, responsibility, caring for oneself and others, family, and making good choices. Classes are small and faculty relationships with kids are close. Parent involvement is part of the program. Hyde is well structured but not the structure of a program like Heritage. At Heritage, your son cannot leave. Home visits will have to be earned. There are levels for privileges. And, kids are stripped search for contraband after home visits and parent visits. This will give you a feeling for how serious this program is.
April 2007

Re: 14-y-o has no social life, mostly TV & video games
Eight years ago we were in about the same situation as you with our son who was just passing 8th grade (with D's) and was about to merge with his bed and his screen activities. Us parents were going mad/crazy. Our other children were getting inadequate attention and parenting. If it persisted, our family would completely fall apart; we would likely end up divorced.

We told him he needed to go to summer school. We ended up sending him to the Hyde School Summer challenge program, in Bath Maine, which was not really a ''summer school.'' It was helpful. The Summer Challenge program, 5 weeks long, is a way for all parties to get to know the Hyde School and each other. In the middle of the Summer Challenge program, my son said he thought that maybe he should go to high school there.

He did end up going to high school there. In fact, he went for all 4 years. It really worked for him and for us. I can't say it works for everyone. It's not perfect. It's alot of money. But it helped all of us - enormously. All kids have to do sports, all year. This was huge and fabulous. We got him out of an environment we could not control. We made it through, one year at a time. Eight years later, this June, he's graduating from a UC.

You should check out the Parenting Teens Workshop the Hyde School is having on May 6 (which someone just posted) or any other events that they are likely to have around that time/weekend.

It may not be right for you or your family but it's certainly worth investigating. karosel


April 2006

I am considering sending my 16 year old son to a ''character-based'' boarding school for his senior year. Any advice or suggestions? I have been reading about Hyde School- I read on this site that some parents had some positive things to say about this school. Please help- we have tried everything.
future boarding school mom?


Our son attended the Hyde School for four years and it was a transformative experience for our whole family -- so much so that his older sister decided to take two years out of her life to teach there in order to ''give back.'' This is not at all unusual at Hyde -- many teachers are former students, or siblings of former students.

Be aware that Hyde will take up a great deal of your life! Hyde is not someplace you send you kid to get fixed, but a place where the whole family comes together to examine its goals and relationships. A typical assignment going into one of the twice-yearly required family weekends is: evaluate yourself as off track, going through the motions, making progress or achieving excellence in these areas of your life: self as mother, self as daughter, physical self, emotional self, intellectual self, spiritual self, self at work, self at play, etc. A typical event at one of these same weekends would be: take a walk on the beach, blindfolded and and guided by your son or daughter. Say everything that you need to say. At the end of the beach, switch places.

Hyde works because of its astonishing and dedicated staff and administration, and because of peer pressure turned to positive effect. As the students change and grow, the older students set an example of character, courage and intellectual curiousity, and the students constantly challenge one another other to meet the high expectations they set for themselves. We all know how powerful peer pressure is, and at Hyde it provides a way of setting high standards across the board.

I cannot recommend this school highly enough. Please feel free to call me if you would like to hear more about this powerful experience.

Leela


Nov 2005

Re: Boarding school for unmotivated 14-year-old
I wanted to recommend The Hyde School, which has campuses in Woodstock, CT and Bath, ME. My son went there for four years and it was such a transformative experience -- for not only him but our whole family -- that my daughter decided to go and teach there for two years to ''give back'' some of what our family gotten out of the experience. You can reach them at www.hyde.edu. They also have a day school campus in Oakland. If you would like to talk to me in person about the Hyde experience, please feel free to call me at 415 420 2960. I can't recommend this school highly enough. Leela


March 2001

This is a response to advice solicited about boarding school.

My 16 year old son is in boarding school. This is his 2nd year at the Hyde School, which has campuses in Connecticut and Maine. He's a sophomore. The philosophy of the school is "character first," emphasizing effort over ability or achievement. Five values are particularly emphasized: courage, integrity, leadership, curiosity and concern.

People land there for different reasons. The school takes the point of view that it doesn't matter what natural skills or (dis)abilities you have, what matters is what you do, your effort.

Here's what led us there. My son attended public schools in Berkeley. In 6th grade, his grades, motivation and attitude slowly started deteriorating to all time lows in 8th grade. Though gifted, in 8th grade at King Middle School, he got D's. He did just the minimum he needed to do to get by.

King school faculty and staff kept saying he needed to take responsibility and that there was nothing that they or we could do. He couldn't care less. He had no interest in taking responsibility for anything.

It was clear from his behavior and attitude that entering Berkeley High School would be a disaster. Private schools would not take him because he was not interested in being there.

We did not get along. We argued alot about school and about his lack of motivation and responsibility. He was unhappy and he didn't know it. We were going crazy and we knew it. Everyone was suffering.

We heard about the school through 2 people, Betty Tharpe, a therapist in Albany, and Pam Brandau, an educational consultant in Oakland. We were able to test it out in the school's 5 week summer program, the 'Summer Challenge.' At the end of those 5 weeks, he volunteered that he wanted to continue but was unsure because he didn't know how much he would miss his family and home.

We made the decision that he continue. It was the best thing (a) for him, (b) for us parents, and (c) for our whole family, especially sibling relations.

The distance had initially put us off. However, at this school, there is intense parent involvement which bridged the distance between the East Coast and the East Bay. There are about 40 or more families from the Bay Area who have children at the school. These Bay Area families meet monthly in one of the 3 Bay Area regional groups. Furthermore, parents participate in family sessions on campus three times a year.

The school's curriculum emphasizes structure, discipline, accountability, character and doing one's best in all endeavors.

Sports are mandatory, emphasizing doing one's best. When he was younger, he was not interested in or could not handle sports, so as he got older, he couldn't join in any sport because of how far behind he was. At school now, he does football, wrestling and lacrosse. He didn't like sports before. Now he loves lacrosse and he's a JV football defense captain. He's in great shape.

Before he lived in his head. He used to spend too much time on video games and other screen activities. We argued about the limits we imposed. Now when he comes home from boarding school, he doesn't do much of them and he tells us that we should limit the amount of TV and video games his brothers can do.

Before he argued about doing any little chore we asked him to do, always thinking that he was being treated unfairly. Now he often helps out without being asked. He sees the same standards apply to all at school. He has experience with the fact that pissing and moaning will make things worse for him.

A traditional school would not have provided sufficient structure and challenge. He did not need a therapeutic environment. This boarding school has provided an ideal answer to our needs. Its a match for our family.

The 1 1/2 years that he has spent at boarding school have instilled in him, a sense of self-confidence, maturity and direction that had seemed impossible for him to achieve. His self-esteem has grown enormously. He's happy. We're happy. And we're a whole lot healthier. Good luck to you.


April 2000

Re: "Boot camp" for 16 year old who is endangering herself?
To the person looking for help for an out of control teen: We have friends who sent their son to the Hyde (spelling?) School in Maine. There is an additional campus elsewhere on the East coast. It has been an incredible experience for their son. The school is not a "teen bootcamp." It is a school with firm values around strong academics in a therapeutic environment. This opportunity has really been powerful for both the boy and the family. I just phoned them for information, but the family is currently away at "Family Weekend" at Hyde. Call me and I will get further information and/or put you in touch with the (local Berkeley) family.


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