Frequently Asked Questions

Some thoughts to consider about HBW, and what it means to Arlington.  Also, some answers to questions about the program.

Key Messages for Talking about HBW

What defines the H-B Woodlawn Program?

The H-B Woodlawn Program is a highly successful, secondary choice school for Arlington students in middle and high school. The H-B Woodlawn program provides students with more control over their education than traditional comprehensive schools permit. The HBW community prizes self-motivation and self-discipline in its students, and the HBW staff embraces these characteristics as vital for success at HBW. The staff works hard to inculcate these habits in HBW’s students incrementally, increasing freedom and expectations of responsibility through the grades.

The central focus of HBW’s program is student choice.  As part of their overall experience at HBW, students make choices in three general areas: use of time and personal behavior, educational goals, and school governance. Personal freedom and tolerance, aided by self-regulation and community standards, shape student experiences on a daily basis.

Some unique “cultural” aspects of the HBW program enable students to be successful within a setting that is less structured than traditional comprehensive schools permit. These include:

Town Meeting:  Town Meeting is H-B Woodlawn’s policy-making forum. Throughout the year, Town Meeting participants, which include staff, students and other community members, decide on the allocation of staffing given to departments, hire teachers, allocate parent-raised funds, and determine general school rules. Because the school community is small, each student, teacher, and parent in attendance has an equal vote and all have an equal opportunity for participation.

Personal freedom and responsibility in behavior:  Community engagement and involvement takes the place of formal discipline programs at HBW. The small size of the student body means that students cannot be anonymous—they are surrounded by peers and staff they know well and who know them well. Students take seriously their participation in the HBW community. The close-knit student body is mostly self-regulating and non-punitive when it comes to discipline, whether it means acting appropriately when “off campus,” reminding a noisy student to “pipe down,” or supporting students who make more serious mistakes. The school motto tells all:  Verbum Sap Sat,  “A word to the wise is sufficient.”

The only 6th-12th grade secondary program in Arlington: A full secondary program, with both Middle and High School Students, is a uniquely successful APS model that supports learners throughout their secondary years. Most students attend HBW for seven years and benefit from close interaction with the same small community of peers and teachers during that time.

Partnerships with “co-housed” Shriver Program and EL:  Inclusion and tolerance defines HBW’s program, and as such HBW benefits from a number of co-enrolled students in the Shriver Program (secondary program for students with special needs) and the EL program (English Learners – secondary education and English for new immigrants, up to age 22).  Students in these two programs have opportunities to attend classes and participate in activities with other HBW students. In addition, HBW includes Arlington’s Secondary Program for Autism (AS), which fully integrates into the school a number of middle and high school students with Asperger’s Syndrome.

Teacher-Advisors:  As students are treated equally with adults in Town Meeting voting, so are they in other relations with adults. At HBW, students address their teachers by their first names and choose their own “teacher- advisor.” To the HBW community, this symbolizes an equal footing in the educational process, and it also stresses for students the need to make their own personal decisions, not by relying on school structure or on the power and authority of a teacher or administrator. For this reason, teacher resources are allocated differently at HBW than at other APS schools: teachers are free to take on extra classes, there is no formal school counselor program, and administrators also teach classes and have “teacher- advisor” groups.