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SAIS Featured School: Highlands School

Wednesday, October 19, 2016  
Posted by: Christina Mimms
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Enrolling 300 students from 4-year-old Kindergarten to grade 8, Highlands School is an independent day school offering a well-rounded educational experience in a nurturing academic environment. Highlands approach to instruction includes STEM, project based learning, social-emotional education, differentiated instruction, and health & wellness. School culture is designed to support and encourage the social-emotional development of Highlands students and prepare them to be leaders who will make a positive difference in the world. The program emphasizes the core subjects of math, language arts, science, music, art, and social studies, as well as global education. Every child in grades 4K through 8th grade studies world language and each year, the school integrates a new country of study into the existing curriculum.

A robust extended day program, summer camp, and The Family Center further enrich the educational experience for Highlands families. Located in the verdant Birmingham suburb of Mountain Brook on 12.5 wooded acres, Highlands is known for its attractive, intimate campus. The school consists of seven buildings, three playgrounds, an athletic field, greenhouse, multiple gardens, an outdoor classroom, and a tree-lined walking trail.

Highlands School’s educational philosophy is focused on promoting academic achievement, educating the whole child, and developing leadership skills. The school promotes “A Higher Degree of Learning,” which emphasizes a strong foundation in the traditional academic disciplines, while helping students develop a positive self-image and a mutual respect with their classmates. Committed to excellence across the disciplines while maintaining a nurturing environment, Highlands strives to provide a highly individualized approach to teaching and learning. Teachers seek opportunities to challenge students academically while supporting their physical, social, emotional, and creative development. Through differentiated instruction, the school aims to help each child become a creative, confident, healthy, caring leader with a strong foundation for future success in the classroom and in his/her communities.

The celebration of academics at Highlands has led to the creation of a rigorous and challenging curriculum. The academic program at Highlands emphasizes intellectual rigor, creativity, problem-solving, critical thinking, health and wellness, character development, and community service. In addition to the high value placed on academic excellence, the program encourages creative expression and leadership development. Highlands is committed to preparing students to thrive in an ever-changing, global world.


Teachers motivate and challenge students through high expectations and a focus on the individual learning potential of each child. The school environment encourages acceptance, appreciation, respect, and tolerance for all. Highlands School sets clear learning standards for its students — standards that teachers hope will reflect what students have learned by the school year’s end. A standards-based report card allows teachers to express where a student is in reference to the standards; to show a student’s progress and growth; and to represent the level a student is working at in each subject area.

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