We don't just take the top students; we are a school of opportunity.
EDISON, NJ – At a time when parents are looking for different educational options for their children, Wardlaw+Hartridge offers small classes, a welcoming environment, and opportunities to do many different things.
The school prepared for COVID-19. The teachers have been trained to deliver academic rigor in class and virtually. They have extended their skills with extensive professional development to prepare for the unique challenges presented by the pandemic. The school invested in its staff, technology, and facilities to deliver in-person, remote, and blended learning to the school’s 465 students. A non-compromised education is the school’s top priority.
“We've been open since the beginning of the year,” said Dr. Bob Bowman, head of the Upper School (grades 9-12). “Parents can see we have serious COVID precautions: temperature checks, plexiglass screens, and we've made adaptations. We have smaller, shorter classes because of our use of Zoom.”
The school’s relatively small sizes and its flexibility are major advantages. Bowman says that students get to know their teachers better and can spend more time with them and thus learn more.
“We don't have the monopoly on great teachers. Here they have more time to work with students. Our teachers can spend more time to teach kids to write (because of smaller class sizes),” Bowman said. “Many in public school can't do this. We are a small school, so it's not that hard to keep socially distanced.”
“High school should be fun. Kids should be competitive against themselves, not against each other,” Bowman added. “We don't just take the top students; we are a school of opportunity.”
Bowman says that what they learn at Wardlaw+Hartridge helps them achieve success later in life. In pre-pandemic times, students went on excursions. Alumni come back and share their experiences. Students learn time management, how to talk to adults and, most importantly, they learn how to learn, Bowman says.
The Wardlaw School’s roots began 138 years ago as an all-boys’ school in Plainfield. Later, it merged with The Hartridge School for girls. From their earliest days, the schools developed a reputation for powerful preparation for college. The boys’ school was singled out by Yale and Harvard for providing fine preparation for their colleges. Hartridge earned a national reputation for pioneering science education to girls and young women. In 1976, the schools merged and became a coeducational Pre-Kindergarten through 12th grade school.
Today, the campus is located 1295 Inman Ave. in Edison, NJ. The teachers and staff continue to focus on the legacy of the past and draw strength from the academic excellence Wardlaw+Hartridge ensures for the future.
“We are proud to be a top choice in private and preparatory education for students throughout Middlesex County and the state of New Jersey,” Bowman said. “If you are serious about wanting to learn. If you want small class sizes and being able to meet your teachers, that’s what we offer. We do a great job in taking kids who are interested in learning and raise their level of learning. Here you are collaborating with your teachers.”
Although the school comes with a significant price tag, Bowman says that families shouldn’t be so intimidated that they don’t consider the school.
“We offer financial aid. If you want to come here, we work hard to make it happen,” Bowman explained. “In many other high schools, students excel at just one thing – whether it is sports or music or theater -- and shine at it. At Wardlaw+Hartridge you can shine at everything. You can grow in an area where you might not have made it in public school.”
“I went to public school, and I loved it,” Bowman explained. “I feel it does a great job at the top and bottom, but you can get lost in the middle. Independent schools fill a void for kids in the middle. One of our core values is opportunity. We have a student who is a varsity baseball player, a trumpet player and highly ranked academically. Here you can do multiple things well.”
The fact that the school is small has enabled it to continue this year with minimal disruption.
“Our teachers are doing a great job, but I'm not going to lie, it's hard,” Bowman said of hybrid teaching. “It's a challenge to have 2/3 of kids on Zoom. However, having the option to come to school or stay remote, for the most part, has worked.”
Students are tested every week or so, and athletes are tested weekly. The rate of COVID-19 is low, and Bowman was proud that Wardlaw+Hartridge families had no positive cases in the two weeks after Christmas break.
Recruitment is harder this year because everything is virtual. In normal times, prospective students could spend a day at the school.
“Our kids are the best recruiters; they are really very nice. We are not hyper competitive internally; you just don't see that here. Because it's smaller, it's not as cut-throat,” Bowman said.
“We give everyone an opportunity to have their moment in the sun,” said Rudy Brandl, a graduate of the school, who now oversees marketing and communications. “Not everyone will be admitted to Ivy League schools like Princeton, although we had two students accepted early decision there last month. Some go to colleges like RPI or Miami, and these are great victories for them. Everyone is celebrated.”
“They get themselves into better schools than they thought they could,” added Bowman, who previously taught at Colgate and at other private schools. “Our vision is realistic. Not every kid is going to Harvard.”
“I like that this school bets on kids being successful. You don't have to have a 1600 SAT as a 12-year-old," he said. “School should be fun.”
The Wardlaw+Hartridge School is offering Virtual Admission Information Sessions on the following dates:
- Thursday, Feb. 11, for Grades Pre-K (3)-5 at 7:00 p.m.
- Thursday, Feb. 18 for Grades 6-8 at 7:00 p.m.
- Thursday, Feb. 25 for Grades 9-12 at 7:00 p.m.
Anyone with questions can contact the Wardlaw+Hartridge Admission Office at (908) 754-1882, Ext. 155 or admission@WHschool.org.