For many young people who have struggled in school, the issue is not their capacity to learn but rather a negative relationship to school.
Holden fosters a deep sense of community where every student is seen, heard, and understood. For over 50 years, Holden has radically changed our students’ notion of school.
Our small class sizes and personalized environment cultivates trust and encourages students to open up to the full range of their abilities and interests.
Kate, Kristin, Abby, Jenn
For over 40 years, we have successfully provided an educational environment based on mutual respect between staff and students that fosters self-esteem, creativity, personal growth, and a love of learning. We offer a fresh start for kids who have experienced failure or have had few experiences of success at traditional high schools. We see your teen for who they are and who they can become. We do not label our students. We view our students holistically and do not focus primarily on their learning disability or past difficult school experiences. Students who have disliked going to school in the past love coming to school at Holden. Our students come from diverse cultural, social, and economic backgrounds.
Yes. Holden is fully accredited by the Schools Commission of the Western Association of Schools and Colleges (WASC).
Holden students are curious, creative, independent, and bright. Many of our students possess significant academic potential that is often left untapped while receiving a mainstream school education.
Our students often need social-emotional support, have learning differences, and thrive in a small, nurturing environment where they receive weekly 1-on-1 counseling. Our teens reside all over the Bay Area (Oakland, Walnut Creek, Antioch, Richmond, and more!)
Our student body is comprised of students with diverse cultural, social, and economic backgrounds.
Yes, there is both visible and invisible diversity at Holden. The student body reflects the racial, socio-economic, and cultural diversity of the Bay Area. Students of color represent approximately 35% of our population, about 70% of families receive some tuition reduction, and 33% have diagnosed learning disabilities. About 56% of students come from Alameda County, 41% come from Contra Costa County, and less than 3% from Marin and San Francisco Counties.
Because social/emotional growth is a core aspect of our curriculum, we cultivate consciousness, appreciation, tolerance, and knowledge of all kinds of diversity.
Students have ample opportunities within the classroom and during community-building events to discuss issues of diversity.
Each student works with a Transition Counselor to map out their post-high school paths, including help with applying to colleges, conducting job searches, or applying to vocational programs. Life after Holden is also the focus of students’ 75-hour senior grade-level project. (See also Transition Program.)
Students graduate from Holden with healthy self-esteem, a love of learning, communication skills, and the initiative and tools to fulfill academic and personal goals. Most continue to college or vocational school or begin a working career. (See also After Holden.)
Research has shown that biological clocks change during puberty, so teenagers often have trouble falling asleep until late at night. Sleep deprivation makes early morning learning difficult. Our average school day is almost an hour longer than what the state requires.
Holden works well for students diagnosed with:
Holden has also successfully served students who have emotional blocks to learning. (See also Learning Support Program.)
A credentialed Learning Specialist trains our teaching staff to work with students with specific learning disabilities and learning styles. We equip our Teachers with information about individual students’ educational backgrounds and experiences, including appropriate accommodations, modifications, and supports.
Our low student-to-teacher ratio allows teachers to pay special attention to students’ individual needs, skills, and interests.
We utilize differentiated instruction, an approach to teaching and learning that provides students with multiple options for taking in information and making sense of ideas.
Co-Director Abby Tuttle is a credentialed Education Specialist. Abby also has a Master’s degree in Special Education with an emphasis in mild-to-moderate disabilities.
Holden participates in IEP meetings on-site with district staff for students funded by their school districts.
Every family participates in an annual end-of-year conference where staff, students, and parents discuss student progress, strengths, accomplishments, and goals related to their academic and social growth.
While these are not formal IEP meetings, they address similar issues. All students work with our Transition Counselor to plan and prepare for post-high school goals.
Holden provides appropriate accommodations, modifications, and supports for students with disabilities with input from students, parents, staff, educational testing, and prior student records.
Holden accommodates various learning styles, including:
Academic and counseling staff members work together to identify strengths and areas for social, emotional, and academic growth.
Students are empowered to work within their preferred learning styles. We also address their needs through monthly teacher evaluations, after-school homework labs, and behavioral support meetings (all included in the cost of tuition), as well as individual tutoring interventions (for an additional cost).
Holden’s Counselors, Directors, and Academic Teachers meet weekly and work collaboratively to support all students.
Our philosophy honors that students develop and learn in social, creative, and emotional ways that are just as important as academic growth.
Some students have had difficult or even shaming educational experiences from the one learning style accommodated at most mainstream schools.
We work with our students, including those with learning disabilities, to meet their needs and interests and to help them regain their love of learning.
We provide a fully integrated range of teaching styles that work successfully with a broad range of learners. Our small class sizes offer a unique, personalized learning environment, allowing trust to develop within the community; this opens students to the full range of their abilities and interests.
We provide an engaging and stimulating curriculum tailored to each student’s individual needs, abilities, and interests. We differentiate instruction, which allows us to teach the same content through multiple modalities.
Students are grouped by interest and ability, not by grade level. We give multiple opportunities for students to achieve success and gain individual recognition. Each year students in the 10th, 11th, and 12th grades complete a Grade Level Project. These are interest-based projects of their choosing through support by the staff.
Projects include creative or logical inquiry, jobs, internships, applying for colleges, and career exploration.
The reasons that families choose Holden are as unique and varied as each family. However, most families choose Holden for our:
Most of our students describe Holden as a welcoming, accepting, and supportive learning environment.
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A generous and flexible tuition reduction program and two funded scholarships allow Holden High School to admit talented, motivated students from across the economic spectrum.
We cannot give you a specific tuition quote until you have submitted your tuition reduction application and supporting tax documents.
Tuition may be paid annually, bi-annually, or monthly.
No, but some school districts have contracted with us to place students here. More commonly, school districts reimburse parents for paying private tuition for students with disabilities.
Holden students travel to school from various Bay Area cities. Most arrive via BART, and others carpool or get dropped off by a parent.
In addition to several other school-specific requirements, Holden students must complete 240 credits to graduate.
Both 4-year and 2-year colleges and universities recognize a Holden diploma.