THE HILLSIDE STORY-Fall 2000---In 1991 I became the Director of Studies at Hillside School, an all boys middle school, in Marlboro, MA. It quickly became apparent that many of our students needed help in two areas, study skills and organizational skills. To address the first of these concerns, I began to teach a class called “study skills” to every grade in the school. We have since dispensed with that class and now incorporate the study skills curriculum into all other parts of the curriculum.

Developing a plan to address students’ organizational needs was a much longer process. We tried a number of different notebook systems and a number of different plans to train our students in how to put papers in the right place and same them after a unit was completed. We saw some improvement in those early years, but still felt that we lacked the proper tools to really do the job right.

Then in 1994, I was introduced to David Schwartz who introduced me to what was then the Hyperflow Notebook System. This system had all the parts I was looking for, color-coded cocoons with multiple pockets each labeled for a specific purpose, a strong durable binder to hold them all together, a separate pocket for the student’s calendar and class schedule, and archiving binders to hold his work for future reference, once he had finished a unit.

This was a system that we could use throughout the school, that we could train the faculty in how to implement in their classrooms, that we could train the students in how to use, and that we could easily explain to parents. The concept was well accepted. It became a part of the school culture. The admissions office took one to show all incoming families, and indeed, the teaching of organizational skills became a marketing piece of the school. Feedback from parents and students was very positive.

The specifics of the system have changed over the years. It is now called the Workcenter Organizer. The big bulky binder has been replaced with a smaller version. The older students now use a spiral bound notebook with the tri-pocket attached. The old archive binders have been replaced by a crate and hanging file system. The basic principles, however, have stayed in tact. A color-coded system with a specific type of use for each pocket and a method to store and retrieve old papers.

Many of our students still have organizational issues. With this system we are able to train them to organize themselves much more independently.

Rich Meyer, Dean of Students and FacultyReturn Home->