Established in 1971 by Robert E. Dannenhold as a non-profit educational support facility for students with learning disabilities, The Hillside School has evolved into an interactive, participatory learning experience that focuses on the capabilities of each student and makes students aware of their ability to succeed.


The Hillside School and Learning Center utilizes four proven scholastic techniques to reach and empower its students. Our small class sizes, one-to-one teaching techniques, positive reinforcement and psychological services work together to reach students who have disengaged from learning–whether due to psychological, motivational or behavioral factors.


The proof of our success is the success of our students. Many have attended some of the country’s finest colleges. Others have enjoyed success at a wide range of business endeavors. For those students who attend The Hillside School or one of its innovative programs on an interim basis, they return to their classrooms better organized, more confident, and with greatly enhanced skills that help them excel.

Hillside Scholastics at-a-glance 2018

California High School Exit Exam Scores
100% Pass Rate


Hillside’s SAT average – 1061

National SAT average – 1060


College/Post High School

4-year college: 70%
2-year college: 15%
vocational: 15%

A Message from The Executive Director

For over 40 years now, The Hillside School has been providing support, education and social interaction for kids (and their parents) who’ve had problems in “the system.” Our unique position as a small private school helps us to focus on the needs of the individual student–and how to best bring forward the passion and opportunities that should brighten their future. In other words, we help families bridge the gap between what is and what is possible.


The Hillside School and Learning Center is a safe, positive and, yes, academically challenging place environment. We don’t believe in teaching less, we believe in motivating our students more. Art classes, special electives, proms and Poetry Night all add incalculable value to our curriculum. We know that creating a “whole student experience” not only opens doors to the future, but also often unlocks interests and possibilities that make a difference right away.


Parents and students at The Hillside School have told us that we’re making a real difference in many lives. We’re helping a kid find out that school is not a bad or frustrating experience. We’re comforting a parent who’s felt alone in dealing with a challenged child. We hope we’re encouraging entire families to find a calmer and more positive mode of daily interaction.


A child who’s unhappy at school and losing ground because of it can have real and lasting impact on his family and his future. But there are ways to turn this child around; and we’ve been perfecting the method for over 40 years.


Every year, we hold an annual Parent’s Night in September. Parent’s Night is an evening of low-key conversation. It gives everyone the chance to speak to one another in a social setting; there are no “speeches.” At the end of the evening, I simply thank everyone for their attendance and formally introduce The Hillside School faculty and staff. Sometimes there are questions from the parents, but more often than not, I hear comments like this,


“I want to thank The Hillside School,” the mom said. Her throat caught as she went on, “ Last year was the first year in my house where no one cried over going to school.”


Every year, I listen to worried, frustrated and anxious parents who are eager to place their children on the right path forward; and after finding The Hillside School, are grateful and relieved for the discovery.


So, if you’re asking yourself, “Why Hillside?” please know, we not only make a difference, we make all the difference in the world.

One-on-One Focus

The Hillside School and Learning Center utilizes four proven scholastic techniques to reach and empower students to achieve beyond their challenges. Small class sizes, one-to-one teaching, positive reinforcement and psychological services work together to help and motivate students who have disengaged from learning–whether due to psychological or educational factors.


Class sizes are limited to between 7 to 12 students throughout the year at The Hillside School. Smaller classes give teachers the ability to interact with each student on an individual basis and also ease the stress some students experience when asked to participate in larger classes.


While some students at The Hillside School require a state-approved IEP (Individual Educational Plan), all students at The Hillside School receive it’s equivalent.  Because classes are small and teachers are adept in focusing on the needs of the individual, all our students experience a personalized education. Each student moves at his or her own pace and receives the level of direction and guidance necessary to address their learning issues.


Sometimes, parents and students reach The Hillside School after several attempts at finding the right educational path. Their frustration is tangible–and can lead to a negative attitude towards the school experience in general and toward the student’s self-esteem in particular. At The Hillside School, we begin each student’s journey by tapping into their potential–so that each successive experience helps to build their self-esteem.


Carol Maskin, MFT leads our Psychological Services Department and is an 18-year veteran of The Hillside School and Learning Center. She plays an important role in the student experience and is a popular resource.

On-Site Presence: Carol maintains a regular presence on the campus during our morning sessions so that students get to know and feel comfortable with her. She is available to consult on disagreements, frustrations and other possible inappropriate reactions as they occur.


Individual Counseling: When The Hillside School has students who require individual counseling through their IEP, Carol Maskin is our go-to professional. While she is not available to see non-mandated students, she will refer students to appropriate professionals upon request.


Group Counseling: Carol frequently conducts small group classes on topics that have meaningful psychological aspects. Recently, she met with a group of students about the dangers of video gaming with a class on the latest version of “Grand Theft Auto.” Students frequently ask her to provide insight on specific topics through these classes.