Best Schools 2009

When it comes to getting kids ready for the future, you never know where you’ll find great ideas. From writing to rocket-making, college counseling to cool cafeterias, here’s our roundup of local schools that are the best at what they do. (Feel free to crib their answers)

Student Techies
Springside School
Love the Apple Store’s Genius Bar? Then you’ll also love iSite, the student-run tech group at this all-girls private school in Chestnut Hill. iSiters guide teachers and other students through the ins and outs of technology with small group sessions and private tutorials. So far, they’ve taught faculty members about new software, created a listening library of storybook podcasts for lower-school students, and run a school film festival.

The Hill School
Sure, the navy blue blazer and khakis at this Pottstown prep school are staples, but the varsity sweater with the big, blocky H certainly deserved its own page in The Preppy Handbook.

Vince Cotter, Plymouth-Whitemarsh
A master at collecting data, implementing technology, training teachers, communicating with parents, and, to be honest, tooting his schools’ horn, Vince Cotter has led PWHS’s move from the bottom of the Montco barrel to the top of the state. His timing couldn’t be more perfect, since his district is now known as the “new Main Line,” and Main Liners new or old wouldn’t have it any other way.

Student Leadership Program
This four-year-long class teaches a diverse group of students to spot signs of depression, bullying, drug and alcohol abuse, and other unhealthful practices among their peers, and then how to help mediate or find assistance. The idea takes the popular “Students Need Assistance Program” a giant step further toward prevention, and includes its own podcast-filled website ( for schools who wanna copy.

Each year, this midsize Montco high’s student body of less than 2,000 logs in a whopping 90,000 hours of community service. Abington’s full-time facilitator guides each student along a three-year “service learning” path, a graduation requirement that’s taken as seriously as any other.