What is a charter school?
Charter schools are public schools, free and open to all students in the districts in which they operate. A charter school is organized differently than a traditional district public school; it is governed by an independent school board whose only focus and responsibility is that particular school. This allows charter schools to be highly responsive to the needs of their students and families. Charter schools operate under contracts that allow them to be closed or replaced for failing to reach specific academic and non-academic goals, or for failing to operate in a responsible manner.
How are charter public schools accountable?
Charter public schools in Missouri must have a sponsor in order to operate; charter school sponsors are typically four-year colleges or universities. A Missouri charter school is accountable to its sponsor for specific academic and non-academic outcomes outlined in the school “charter” (or contract). Charter schools are also accountable to the Missouri Department of Elementary and Secondary Education. Washington University serves as the sponsor for Hawthorn Leadership School for Girls.
Can my student attend Hawthorn Leadership School for Girls?
Girls eligible to attend public school in the City of St. Louis are eligible for enrollment at Hawthorn. Students who live in school districts participating in the VICC program are also eligible to attend Hawthorn.
Hawthorn enrolls students in 6th, 7th, 8th and 9th grades. In order to enroll, families must complete the enrollment packet and provide all the required records. Enrollment is on a first-come first-served basis, organized into three enrollment windows, and we continue to enroll students as space permits up to October 31. Enrollment for the following school year opens November 1.
What is unique about Hawthorn Leadership School for Girls?
Hawthorn is the only all-girls’ public school in Missouri. The single-sex environment allows girls to focus on academics and to grow their leadership skills while being part of a nurturing environment that supports their specific needs. It is girls, and only girls, who lead class discussions, clubs, and other student-driven initiatives. Girls at Hawthorn are free to be themselves and we celebrate each girl’s unique personality. Our students form lasting friendships and care deeply about their relationships with each other that form the "Hawthorn Sisterhood."
All Hawthorn students are members of an Advisory - small group of students and a faculty member who form a unique bond within the context of the broader school community. Advisors serve as the primary touch point for students, providing regular academic check-ins, celebrating student achievement, and looking out for their advisees' overall success. Advisories join together for fun activities in "Sisterhood Fridays" throughout the year.
Hawthorn girls are encouraged and supported to reach their full potential through our Leadership Curriculum, grade level adventures, Advisory, Capstone Projects, community service initiatives, athletic and other co-curricular programs. Hawthorn's Student Support Specialists and School Social Workers support our girls’ growth as people, not just as students. Hawthorn’s joyful school spirit permeates the halls.
Hawthorn students are required to wear the school uniform.
What is Hawthorn’s curriculum?
Hawthorn Leadership School for Girls is a rigorous college preparatory school with a focus on Science, Technology, Engineering and Math (STEM). Middle school students take the following courses daily: Science, Math, Math Lab, PE or Dance, Engineering or Computer Coding, Humanities (language arts and social studies in one block), and Writing Seminar. In high school, students take Biology, Chemistry, Physics, Algebra, Geometry, Algebra II, Pre-Calculus, Literature and Composition, History and Government, PE/ Health and Wellness, World Language (Spanish), Personal Finance, and Advisory (College and Career Prep). High school students learn computer science through a partnership with Microsoft TEALS.
Hawthorn teachers are specialists in their fields. They incorporate Project-Based Learning ("PBL") into the curriculum to provide hands-on learning with a real-world application. In their PBL units, students present their work to a panel of “judges” for feedback, learning important skills of collaboration and public speaking alongside academic proficiencies.
Students and teachers use technology in all of their courses, integrating computer skills into humanities as well as science and math. In addition, Hawthorn works with Washington University’s Institute for School Partnership to design our science and engineering curriculum.
We review and react to student assessment data in order to meet each student’s needs and to ensure that each student is working to her full potential. As a small school, we are able to respond quickly and effectively to student data in order to meet our students where they are and design innovative curriculum that engages them and moves them toward mastery.
How is Hawthorn Preparing Students for College?
Hawthorn offers a college-bound curriculum and academic support to ensure that each student is successful and meets her full academic potential. Highly qualified teachers, small class sizes, differentiated instruction and Advisory provide the structure and support students need to thrive. Students have short, mid and long-term assignments and work independently and in groups – all skills that prepare them for college. Our STEM curriculum and integrated use of technology equips and empowers girls with the skills necessary to succeed in the 21st century workplace.
Hawthorn also enables students to exercise their voice, take on a variety of leadership roles and explore careers through internships and career fairs. Hawthorn students have an array of experiences beyond the classroom that encourage them to dream big and expose them to opportunities and community partners as resources to actualize those dreams. We visit college campuses for interactive academic experiences and to participate in prospective student tours.
Hawthorn's full-time College Counselor works with the students individually beginning in ninth grade, preparing them for standardized testing, essay writing, and financial aid applications. The College Counselor supports families, as well, through the college inquiry, application, and financial aid process. As a small school, Hawthorn’s team of counselors, advisors, and faculty is able to provide individualized care and support to each student to help her identify curricular and co-curricular areas of focus to best prepare her for post-secondary success. We organize college tours for each grade level, ensuring that our students have exposure to a variety of schools as they begin to determine their own goals for post-secondary success.
What is Hawthorn’s daily/yearly schedule?
Hawthorn has a longer day and longer year than many public schools. Breakfast is available each day at 7:40. The school day begins at 8:00 and goes until 3:39. We have several programs that meet/practice after school, and students enrolled in those activities are supervised. Many of our students who are not participating in Hawthorn’s after-school activities and who need supervision after school hours participate in programs at Matthew's Dickey, Girls Inc, or the Wohl Recreation Center.
The school year begins mid-August and runs through the end of May. Hawthorn’s winter and spring breaks align with St. Louis Public School breaks. We have 8 - 10 Early Release Fridays during the year to allow for our teachers’ professional development planning time. See school calendar here.
Summer orientation for incoming students is required; dates and times vary depending on grade level.
What extracurricular activities does Hawthorn offer?
Hawthorn offers a variety of activities outside of academics. Middle school students may participate in track, yearbook, chess, basketball, Girls Who Code, Girls On The Run, culinary arts, and others. High school students have the opportunity to compete in basketball, volleyball and track. Our choir, spoken word poetry club, entrepreneur club and step team span middle and high school grades. Tutors through Washington University’s Each One Teach One and Hawthorn faculty provide additional academic support after school as well.
Community service is an integral part of the Hawthorn experience and each grade level has a special focus on service to others.
Read more about our activities here.
Does the school require uniforms?
Yes. Hawthorn girls come to school each day in the school uniform. Special dress uniform days will occur throughout the year. Occasional dress down and theme days provide fun variety to the standard uniform. For more information and to view images of the uniform, go here.
Does the school provide transportation?
No. Students’ families are responsible for their children getting to and from school on time. Several Hawthorn students take public transportation to and from school and those who live close by walk.
How can Hawthorn parents get involved in the school?
Hawthorn parents/guardians sign a commitment form during the enrollment process in which they pledge to serve as partners in their student’s education. This partnership with Hawthorn includes supporting the girls in their efforts to meet Hawthorn’s academic requirements, encouraging their girls to become active members of the Hawthorn community, and holding their girls accountable for following all school rules.
Hawthorn parents and guardians are invited to volunteer in a number of capacities at the school and to attend programs and events specifically for parents at the school. They will also be expected to attend all parent-teacher conferences. Hawthorn’s Parent Engagement Team organizes events such as VIP Breakfast, Field Day and Teacher Appreciation Day which are fun ways for parents to contribute to the positive school culture.
In addition, Hawthorn seeks parent input regularly through focus groups, surveys and informal conversation. This input is essential to the development and growth of this new school.
Is Hawthorn part of a larger charter school network?
Hawthorn is an affiliate of the Young Women’s Leadership Network (“YWLN”). YWLN supports five highly successful all-girls’ public schools in New York City and 15 affiliate schools around the country. As an affiliate school, Hawthorn receives support from YWLN on curriculum design, programming, professional development and best practices for educating urban, adolescent girls. YWLN is not a network of charter schools, but a group of affiliated schools that support each other in these ways. Hawthorn does not belong to a charter school network.
Why is the school called Hawthorn Leadership School for Girls?
The Hawthorn is the Missouri state flower. The flower blooms on a tree – the image of an exquisite bloom coming from a base that is a straight and strong foundation captures the vision of Hawthorn Leadership School for Girls. The Hawthorn tree also bears thorns at certain times of the year, a sometimes appropriate metaphor for adolescent girls. Finally, the Hawthorn is a living thing, a plant, thus the image incorporates the school’s focus on science and the importance of plant science in the St. Louis region. The leadership component of our curriculum is also reflected in the name of the school and our affiliation with the Young Women’s Leadership Network is referenced as well.
Is Hawthorn the right school for you?
Do you like to be challenged by new ideas and feel a sense of pride and accomplishment when you have mastered a new skill or answered a difficult question?
Do you enjoy the close bonds of friendship you share with other girls?
Do you enjoy forming relationships with teachers and letting them get to know you?
Do you like traditions and a sense of belonging to a place or a group?
Can you get to school on time, in uniform, ready to have a good day?
Do you like to take on leadership roles – in class, in clubs and activities?
Do you like to try new things, to have interesting experiences?
Do you want to go to a school where you can be yourself?
Will you contribute to the school community, participating in class and in clubs or sports with positive energy?
Will you take advantage of opportunities to learn and grow outside of school?
Do you want to go to college?