Hilltop's History

Hilltop was founded in 1971 by a group of parents at the Queen Anne Lutheran Church looking for after-school care for their children. There we grew to offer full-day preschool programs to the local Queen Anne community. Our curriculum went through several evolutions in our first 20 years, including influences from the Montessori Method, seasonal themes, a Folk Tale-based curriculum, and tenets from the HighScope model.

Reggio Emilia Influences

In the mid-1990s those influences were loosening and dissipating, due to the presence of educators who had visited the schools of Reggio Emilia, Italy and were interested in incorporating the Reggio philosophy into their teaching practice.

Through the efforts of educators advocating for change in their classroom, Hilltop began to further explore emergent curriculum, reflective teaching practice, and pedagogical documentation. We saw the children at Hilltop think critically about their world, connect in profound ways with each other, and experience great joy in their learning. As a faculty and family community, we continue to learn in relationship and grow as an organization.

The Institute

Over the next ten years, through books, articles, and videos, Hilltop’s visibility grew in the early childhood field both nationally and internationally. Early learning professionals began to visit our school to learn about our work with children.  Hilltop’s Institute for Professional Development was born out of our faculty’s desire to better our own teaching practice by collaborating with the early childhood education community, early learning professionals’ request for leadership from Hilltop, and the organization’s need to continue to grow and strengthen.

In 2008 Hilltop moved out of the church into our current space, designed by a parent and built through the work of many volunteers, to support the values, learning, and community of the school. On any given day, you might see children peering through the many windows in their classrooms or running their hands along the curved hallway. Through the ideas, imagination, and initiative of our whole community, Hilltop continues to be an organization of reflection, growth, collaboration, and community.