Where the World is their Classroom

Where the World is their Classroom

by Susan Neuhalfen

When the Selwyn School started in 1957, it was founded by parents who were looking for a more balanced educational curriculum for their college-bound children. Nothing about that has changed.

What has changed is that Selwyn School, which was originally a boarding school in the NW corner of Denton, is now moving closer to Argyle in order to better serve those same families looking to send their children to a smaller, more student-focused college prep school.

“We are moving from a 90 acre campus to a 10 acre campus because we’re now a day school and we don’t use dorms,” said Deborah Hof, Head of School. “We want to be closer to the community and the families and we’re looking forward to our new facilities.”

Selwyn School is the only independent school north of Dallas. They are a member of the National Association of Independent Schools. They are non-profit and run by a private board of trustees. They still value parental input and focus on quality teacher to student relationships that allows for a more personal education.

“When you have 10 kids in a class, it’s easier to focus one-on-one with the students when needed,” pointed out Hof. “Not only do the kids better understand the curriculum, we can work on what interests them specifically so that they may expand their knowledge.”

From kindergarten through 12th grade, every student must study art, drama, physical education, music and Spanish. Hof emphasized that they are not tied to standardized tests so they have flexibility with their studies.

“100% of our students go to college,” said Hof. “We do everything possible to make sure these kids are academically and independently prepared.”

Grades 3-5 science and social studies teacher Connie Miller has the unique perspective of being both a teacher and the parent of one of the students. She is quick to point out that every school has its great teachers and unique classes and for the Selwyn School, it’s the perspectives program that sets them apart.

“We believe in getting the kids into the world to experience the things they are learning,” said Miller. “We start them on overnight trips when they’re young to make sure they develop independence early on.”

Miller talked about her daughter who has since graduated from Selwyn and how she came home after one of her trips when she was much younger and offered to make breakfast
for her mother.

“They cook and clean up after themselves when they are out on these trips,” said Miller. “We help them to become self-sufficient very quickly.”

Through the perspectives program all of the kids travel from day trip as a kindergartener to a science/social studies camp for three days as a 3rd grader and then in high school they have a real opportunity for independent studies. The point is to take them out of the classroom and give them the opportunity to learn as well as to tackle problems on their own.

“My daughter traveled to Key West to study marine biology which was life changing for her,” said Miller. “They also went to museums and other places which encompassed the arts, sciences and social studies. She grew so much.”

Miller and Hof talked about how the high schoolers have a choice in where they travel for their independent studies citing one student who went to England to study Shakespeare as well as the history of the country. Their passion will lead them and the teachers are there to help them develop their further study.

They are also working with their high school students on global leadership. They are spending a great deal of time studying the middle east competing in the Model Arab League, a multi-regional competition where students learn about politics and history. They also have history bowls and spelling bees as well as some competitive sports.

Despite the wide range in classes, Hof said that the students also look for opportunities for college credits. Students can take advantage of the opportunity for dual credit. Selwyn works with both TWU and UNT in areas of interest for individual students.

There are roughly 50 students on campus right now but that number is expected to grow once they reach their new facility in January. Anyone interested in applying may go to
www.selwynschool.com and go to the admissions tab. The staff is happy to have parents and potential students spend a day on campus to see if it fits for them.

The best part of the school, according to Miller, is the real sense of community they have on campus.

“The staff and students are very close,” said Miller. “We all help each other
to be successful.”

They would especially like for people to take a tour of their new campus on Old Alton Road now that the structure is almost complete.

“We graduate bright, well-mannered and curious students,” said Hof. “We hope people in the area will give us a chance to introduce ourselves. We want everyone to get to know us.”

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