Client Spotlight: Sand Hill School

picture of the author, Lynn Bagwan by Lynn Bagwan, April 25th 2017

At Torsh, we believe that great academic outcomes should be within the reach of every student. We also acknowledge that some kids face greater challenges in the education process. That’s why we are so proud of one particular client, Sand Hill School, which serves students with language-based learning differences, such as dyslexia. Located in Palo Alto in the heart of California’s Silicon Valley, Sand Hill School’s unique approach makes them a perfect subject for this week’s Client Spotlight. We are so proud that this amazing school is using Torsh TALENT, our teacher professional development platform, to help reach kids whose needs were not being met in a traditional classroom. 

Back in 2011, Sand Hill School opened its doors thanks to a combination of vision and philanthropy. The vision was provided in part by Rosalie Whitlock, the Executive Director of the Children’s Health Council (CHC). CHC, a non-profit that specializes in ADHD, Learning Differences, Anxiety/Depression and Autism, has been serving kids and families in the greater San Francisco area for over 60 years. Ms. Whitlock, together with Cindy Lopez, who currently serves as Head of School, recognized the need within the community for a school like Sand Hill. Their idea required initial funding, which fortunately came from philanthropists, education advocates and long-time CHC supporters, John and Betsy Kriewall. 

The initial student body consisted of seven students. By 2013, the school was serving 47 students in K-5. Today, it serves about 70 students in grades 1-8. 

Many kids arrive at Sand Hill frustrated and disillusioned. Their learning differences, often combined with attention and social challenges and other conditions such as anxiety, are inhibiting their success in the classroom and squelching their excitement about school. Sand Hill offers these bright and highly capable kids a unique, specialized program, which addresses their individual needs in ways that traditional schools do not. Instructors are trained in best practices for educating kids with conditions such as dyslexia. A six to one student ratio and access to skilled occupational therapists, speech and language pathologists and psychologists also contribute to student success. 

The school has developed what they call the “Sand Hill Approach.” A research-based curriculum, focus on social and emotional skills and the development of executive function, access to technology, and an emphasis on family partnerships are all important facets. The goals of the program include instilling kids with self-confidence, reigniting a love of learning, and ultimately preparing each student to return to a traditional classroom, where they can not just survive, but truly thrive. 

And, the program is working. Last year,  85% of students at Sand Hill School met their personalized academic goals in mathematics problem-solving, while 90% of students met their goals in reading comprehension. 

We especially love Sand Hill’s unwavering belief in their students’ potential. As the school’s website puts it, “Sand Hill students are the future visionaries, entrepreneurs and creative thinkers of the next generation who will shape the future of the Silicon Valley and beyond.” Such an empowering message helps fuel student growth and achievement. Students at Sand Hill learn to expect great things from themselves. We are so proud to play a role in this vibrant and transformative school community, and we look forward to seeing how Sand Hill alumni will ultimately contribute to society at large. 


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