This fall marked my sixth visit to Dana Hall School and, as always, I most enjoyed my time there. (The sixty degree, sunny, and perfect New England day didn’t hurt, of course – especially in the wake of the recent freak October blizzard that struck the area.)
Dana Hall is one of the larger New England private boarding schools, with around 475 young women in attendance, but it still somehow manages to feel quite small and intimate in a way that I suppose is unique to a school of its nature. (An average class size of 13 doesn’t hurt either.) About one-third of the girls board and the other two-thirds are day students but there’s a definite sense of cohesiveness and community on campus and a perpetual enthusiasm with the faculty and staff that I enjoy immensely. It’s just a warm and friendly place with an idyllic campus that makes me smile whenever I drive up to the main entrance.
Dana Hall is situated in the town of Wellesley, Massachusetts (a city with a population of around 30,000 that is also home to Babson College and Wellesley College), which puts it in close proximity to Boston and gives it a unique combination of a small town feel mixed with a metropolitan air. (Like I said – it’s a unique setting and I firmly believe that you have to actually go there to get a true sense of what I’m talking about.)
And whether it’s the nearness of Boston or the educational level that the two esteemed local colleges bring to the members of the Wellesley community, there’s a sense of worldliness about Dana Hall that I haven’t felt at any other school I’ve ever visited. It isn’t connected with the amount of international students who attend the school (though there are plenty), but rather it seems that everyone – students, faculty, and staff – all take a significant effort to look outside of their surroundings and seize every opportunity to examine the outside world and relate it to their own lives. In that vein, Dana Hall students also have an opportunity to do School Year Abroad and study off-campus during their high school careers – a rare piece of programming for a high school.
Athletics are required at Dana Hall as part of the school’s commitment to wellness – but for riders, that’s not a concern, as the campus’s amazing equestrian center and riding program are considered part of the athletic program, allowing you to fulfill both your wishes and the school’s mandate. Sarah Summers is head of the Dana Hall riding program and, as an alumna of the school herself, she has a deep passion for all things Dana Hall and a wide ranging experience in the horse industry that makes her top-notch in her field. (Her contagious enthusiasm for her program doesn’t hurt either.)
My favorite thing about Sarah and the way she runs her program is that she has a fantastic staff working with her and knows not only how to use their best talents and abilities to fulfill the needs of the program, but she also allows the program itself to shift and change with the needs of the students. Not a lot of high school or college programs are like that; instead, they lean toward being very “cookie cutter” and give students a sense that they have to take or leave the services available to them. But at Dana Hall, the students definitely come first.
Could Dana Hall be a fit for you? Contact me and we can find out!