The Pine Cobble Difference

What can a school do to help children become confident learners with strong social skills, intellectual curiosity, and a compassionate approach to the world at large? At Pine Cobble School, we know the answer is a lot. That’s the start of the Pine Cobble Difference.

Teaching respect, compassion, and community

Pine Cobble administrators, staff, and faculty know that children learn enthusiastically when some of the most common barriers to learning have been removed. That’s why you won’t find bullies on our campus, and you will find remarkably little peer pressure. What you will find is a genuine community — one where children of all ages support and encourage one another, and respect each others’ individual talents.

Sound too good to be true? It’s not; it’s simply an educational approach that values character as much as achievement.


  • While many schools talk about not tolerating bullying, Pine Cobble takes it further by actively teaching children – every single day – about kindness and strong character, about mutual respect and individual gifts.
  • Character is integrated into our very curricula, with a different character pillar for each month in the school year: responsibility, awareness, gratitude, compassion, respect, honesty, initiative, courage, and perseverance. Embracing these values, children know, is as important as mastering mathematical concepts or learning to read.
  • Equally important, faculty and administrators model character by treating each other, and every child, with respect. Our alumni/ae consistently report that the relationships they formed at Pine Cobble were some of the most influential of their lives.
  • Each day, children eat lunch family style in mixed-age groups, alongside a faculty member. Each month, students get a new table assignment which allows them to form real relationships with students and faculty members that they might not meet in the classroom.
  • School-wide assemblies and all-school occasions provide rich – and real – opportunities for community building.

Encouraging intellectual curiosity and academic rigor

Pine Cobble students meet the highest academic standards — and they do so with a sense of confidence, comfort, and self-esteem. Pine Cobble helps students thrive intellectually through:

  • Small classroom size; our faculty-student ratio is extremely low, at 5:1.
  • Emphasis on excellent communications. Writing is emphasized, as is public speaking. By second grade, students are writing reports and making presentations before the whole school. Alumni/ae report that by the time they entered high school they were unusually confident public speakers, researchers, and writers. Consider, as one small example, the fact that in the 2011-2012 school year, two of the four class presidents at Emma Willard School are Pine Cobble alumnae.
  • Strong language program. Spanish begins in the early childhood program, and Latin begins in fourth grade.
  • A rigorous science program, with a dedicated science classroom and specialist. From age three, students learn how to apply scientific reasoning to the world around them — how to form a hypothesis, create a control group, test a theory, observe results, and draw conclusions. Environmental education is a strong part of our science curricula, and our beautiful, 20-acre campus, originally designed as an estate by Olmsted Associates, is a living laboratory for learning.
  • Emphasis on excellence in mathematics — not merely memorizing mathematical facts, but understanding numbers and mathematical logic at a deep and meaningful level. By the upper school, students are doing independent study on mathematical concepts — from fractals to hyperbolic space to Pascal’s triangle.
  • Extraordinary faculty, many of whom were Pine Cobble students themselves. Our faculty is second to none; collectively, they create an academically-rich environment that is caring in tone and an outstanding preparation for the future.
  • A committed alumni/ae network. Not only do our alumni/ae  deepen Pine Cobble’s sense of community, they also provide extraordinary learning opportunities. In one recent school year, for example, upper school students had a private conference with a Supreme Court justice, arranged by alumna Eloise Pasachoff ’89, visitied the 8th & I Marine Corps barracks in Washington DC, arranged by Major Rush Filson ‘85, and planted organic broccoli sprouts with organic farmer and sustainable food advocate Michael Gallagher ’98.

The most important achievement of all: being themselves.

Pine Cobble students’ accomplishments are many, and they are impressive. In the last three years, five Pine Cobble fifth graders won honors from the Massachusetts Letters About Literature program, ranking them in the top 1% in the commonwealth among students their age. Nearly half of our sixth grade students received achievement awards for the National Latin Exam. Students were accepted at the finest high schools in the nation — Deerfield Academy, Emma Willard, Williston Northampton School, St. Paul’s Academy — and our alumni make impressive contributions at both public and private high schools, colleges and beyond.

Each day, however, all of our students excel at something equally extraordinary: simply being themselves. Because Pine Cobble provides such a close-knit, socially-safe environment, kids can be who they really are…and grow into the best they can be. Unfortunately, this is a rarity in education these days. We are proud to say that it is a common experience at Pine Cobble.

Visit an area coffee house, and you might find a couple of our students playing music for the crowds. At a local street fair, you might find a twelve-year old student selling greeting cards with detailed wildlife images of his own creation. You might see an eight-year old volunteering at the local food pantry, or a ten-year old helping plant flowers at the local Habitat for Humanity. You can find our students winning athletic competitions with grace and fairness, or leading young children on glorious backcountry hikes.

Surprised by how engaged, confident, and motivated these students are? Don’t be. They’re just being themselves – the very best of who they can be. And that, of course, is the point of a Pine Cobble education: to inspire students to engage in the world with confidence and curiosity, and to be prepared for the challenges that lie ahead. It’s the reason our faculty, staff, and administrators do what they do every day…and it’s the reason that we know, with certainty, that a good beginning never ends.

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