At a Glance



Our School

Shady Hill is an independent, coeducational day school located in Cambridge, Massachusetts. 

  • Founded: 1915. There are over 3,500 alumni. 
  • Accreditation: Member of the National Association of Independent Schools (NAIS) and the Association of Independent Schools of New England (AISNE). 
  • Location: Eleven acres with tree-lined paths, wetlands, and grassy areas in a quiet Cambridge neighborhood. 
  • Campus: Eighteen buildings, including an art, woodshop, and music center; the Beehive, which houses our library, mathematics classrooms, world language classrooms, and our innovation lab; a gymnasium; science laboratories; an assembly hall; and a number of child-scaled classroom buildings.
  • Students: Approximately 515 boys and girls in pre-Kindergarten ("Beginners" or 4-year-olds) through Grade 8. Students come from about 40 different communities, the majority from Cambridge and Boston. 
  • Faculty: Full- and part-time faculty total over 100 people, and 91%.of Shady Hill teachers hold advanced degrees. 
  • Student/Teacher Ratio: 8/1 overall. Class sizes are limited. 
  • Students of Color: Students of color represent 35% of our enrollment.
  • Financial Aid: Shady Hill's financial aid budget totals over $2.7 million. Tuition grants range from a few hundred dollars to almost the entire tuition. All assistance is based on a family's need to pay. The number of families receiving aid has ranged from18% to 21% in recent years. 
  • Governance: Every parent is a member of the not-for-profit corporation, presided over by the Board of Trustees. The school’s director supervises the faculty and oversees the educational program. 

Our Program

  • Curriculum: We stress the relationships among many areas of learning and use original source materials, rather than textbooks. Central Subject, a distinctive method of teaching at Shady Hill, is an integrated approach to a people via their history, literature, geography, and arts. 
  • World Languages: French, Mandarin, and Spanish offered beginning in Grade 7. 
  • Sports: The program includes movement education and physical education, as well as a broad variety of intramural and interscholastic team sports. 
  • Afterschool Program: Available daily until 6:00 PM. 
  • Teacher Training Course: An on-site, certifying program that prepares graduate-level "apprentices" for teaching. 

Our Classes

Class Sizes:

Beginners (Pre-K): 2 classes with 18 students in each, with 2 gradehead teachers
Kindergarten: 2 classes with 22 students in each, with 2 gradehead teachers
Grade I: 2 classes with 22 students in each, with 2 gradehead teachers
Grade II: 2 classes with 22 students in each, with 2 gradehead teachers
Grade III: 3 classes with 16 students in each and 1 gradehead teacher
Grade IV: 3 classes with 16 students in each and 1 gradehead teacher
Grade V: 3 classes with 16 students in each and 1 gradehead teacher
Grade VI: 4 classes with 16-18 students in each and 1 gradehead teacher
Grade VII: 4 classes with 16-18 students in each and 1 gradehead teacher
Grade VIII: 4 classes with 16-18 students in each and 1 gradehead teacher

Department teachers in mathematics, science, music, the arts, and technology support the work of teachers in all grades, with students having specialized department classes.
The School admits qualified students of any race, color, national or ethnic origin, sex, religion, disability, gender identity or sexual orientation to all the rights, privileges, programs, and activities generally accorded or made available to students at the School. The School does not discriminate on the basis of race, color, national or ethnic origin, sex, religion, disability, gender identity or sexual orientation, or any other status protected by applicable law in the administration of its educational, admissions, financial aid, athletic and other policies and programs.
Shady Hill School History

In 1915, The Cooperative Open Air School opened at 16 Quincy Street in Cambridge, on the back porch of a home owned by Ernest and Agnes Hocking. The school was started by Harvard-affiliated parents whose children had attended the Agassiz School, a public school in Cambridge that was slated for renovation. The parents, joined by two or three "professional" teachers, instructed the children in arithmetic, history, geography, poetry, music, French, biology, carpentry and drawing. At the time it was the only independent, coeducational elementary school in the area.

By 1917, the enrollment had grown too large for the back porch; the school purchased a portion of the Charles Eliot Norton estate at the corner of Scott and Holden Streets in Cambridge. In this location — Shady Hill Square — the enrollment grew even further. In 1924, the parents purchased the school's present location on Coolidge Hill in Cambridge. The Cooperative Open Air School officially became Shady Hill School in 1925.

The school's progressive roots came from the founding families' enthusiasm for the writings of John Dewey and other leading educators of the time. The founders were committed to the use of original source materials, a "spirit of simplicity and devotion to learning," and the idea of freedom coupled with responsibility. The school's progressive teaching philosophy has attracted a succession of master-teachers to its faculty and generations of devoted parents to its constituency.

In 2015-2016, we celebrated Shady Hill's 100th birthday with a series of events that combined tradition and a look back at our past with a look ahead to our future.

Click here to access a timeline of our School's milestones, illustrated with photos of SHS luminaries, the campus, and the program.
617.520.5260        178 Coolidge Hill    Cambridge MA 02138