Tried and True Education

For decades, Hillsdale College has led a return to excellence in K-12 education. Beginning with the founding of Hillsdale Academy in 1990, and continuing with the Hoogland Center for Teacher Excellence, the Classical School Job Fair, the Barney Charter School Initiative, and the Diana Davis Spencer Graduate School of Classical Education, Hillsdale College teaches school leaders, board members, teachers, and friends about the principles of excellent K-12 education and forms undergraduate and graduate students for careers in teaching and school leadership, focusing on governance, leadership, curriculum, pedagogy, and school culture. 

Hillsdale College’s network of affiliated schools and other friends gather each February on the beautiful Hillsdale College campus to learn, connect, and prepare for the coming academic year by meeting some of the most promising future teachers in the country. The Classical Education Forum opens this conversation to a larger audience, and, we hope, gives all those pursuing a return to excellence in K-12 education a place to gather, to deliberate, and to learn.  

The Hillsdale College Classical Education Forum is an invite-only event. Only schools invited to attend the job fair are invited to the Forum.

A Premier Gathering for Classical Educators

The K-12 Classical Education Forum will bring together those leading the charge to preserve the foundation of a classical approach to education.


Expect to learn from scholars and experienced school leaders who will discuss, debate, and share their knowledge about the state of the classical education world and its future.


Gather with school leaders, teachers, and Hillsdale College graduate and undergraduate students pursuing careers in K-12 education. 


Hillsdale College provides free resources to K-12 schools, including curriculum, online courses, teacher resources, and seminars. Prepare for the coming year and learn about ways to enhance your school’s current offerings. 

Featured Speakers

Kathleen O'Toole, Ph.D.

Assistant Provost for K-12 Education

Dr. Kathleen O’Toole is the assistant provost for K-12 Education at Hillsdale College, where she leads Hillsdale’s work in K-12 education, including the K-12 Education Office and Hillsdale Academy. Prior to joining Hillsdale, she was the founding headmaster of Founders Classical Academy of Leander, a classical charter school serving 700 students in grades K-12. She has taught at the college and high school levels at Claremont McKenna College, Morehead State University, and Founders Classical Academy of Leander. Dr. O’Toole was an editor for the Claremont Review of Books, a Publius Fellow at the Claremont Institute, and serves on the board of the Classic Learning Test. ‚Äč

Dr. O’Toole has presented academic papers on Aristotle, Cicero, St. Augustine, Shakespeare, and Alexis de Tocqueville, and her doctoral dissertation, on Aristotle’s Nicomachean Ethics and Politics, examines the place of moral virtue in the happy life, focusing on magnanimity, justice, and prudence. Her career in higher education showed her how important good moral and intellectual formation is before college and before adulthood. She lives in Hillsdale, Michigan with her husband Daniel and their children Charlotte and William. 

Wilfred McClay, Ph.D.

Professor of History

Wilfred M. McClay holds the Victor Davis Hanson Chair in Classical History and Western Civilization at Hillsdale College. Before coming to Hillsdale in the fall of 2021, he was the G.T. and Libby Blankenship Chair in the History of Liberty at the University of Oklahoma, and the Director of the Center for the History of Liberty. His book, The Masterless: Self and Society in Modern America, received the 1995 Merle Curti Award of the Organization of American Historians for the best book in American intellectual history. Among his other books is The Student’s Guide to U.S. HistoryReligion Returns to the Public Square: Faith and Policy in AmericaFigures in the Carpet: Finding the Human Person in the American PastWhy Place Matters: Geography, Identity, and Public Life in Modern America, and Land of Hope: An Invitation to the Great American Story. He served for eleven years on the National Council on the Humanities, the advisory board for the National Endowment for the Humanities, and is currently a member of the U.S. Commission on the Semiquincentennial, which has been charged with planning the celebration of the nation’s 250th birthday in 2026. He has been the recipient of fellowships from the Woodrow Wilson International Center for Scholars, the National Endowment for the Humanities, and the National Academy of Education, and served as a Fulbright Senior Lecturer in American History at the University of Rome. He is a graduate of St. John’s College (Annapolis) and received his Ph.D. in History from Johns Hopkins University.

Panel Speakers

Soren Schwab

VP of Partnerships at Classic Learning Test


Jessica Hooten Wilson, Ph.D.

Fletcher Jones Endowed Chair of Great Books at
Pepperdine University


Brian Williams, Ph.D.

Dean of the Templeton Honors College
at Eastern University


Mark Bauerlein, Ph.D.

English professor
at Emory University


Carol McNamara, Ph.D.

Director at the Great Hearts Institute for Classical Education



The week begins with our School Leader Conference—an exclusive gathering for school leaders at Hillsdale Member Schools. The larger classical school world will join us on Wednesday night. See below for the schedule of events.

Wednesday, February 14

7:00 p.m. - Research presentations by students of the Graduate School of Classical Education
8:00 p.m. - Reception

Thursday, February 15

8:45 a.m. - Liberal and Civic Education in America (Dr. Kathleen O'Toole)
9:30 a.m. - Panel presentation on Classical Education (Soren Schwab, Dr. Jessica Hooten Wilson, Dr. Brian Williams, Dr. Mark Bauerlein, and Dr. Carol McNamara)
11:00 a.m. - 4:00 p.m. - Classical School Job Fair
5:30 p.m. - VIP Reception with Hillsdale College graduating seniors
6:30 p.m. - Dinner and lecture: The Future of Classical Education (Dr. Wilfred McClay)

Friday, February 16

All day - Interviews with students

About Us

Hillsdale College K-12 Education Office

The Hillsdale College K-12 Education Office's mission is to promote the founding of classical schools, and excellence in their teaching and operations, so that American students may be educated in the liberal arts and sciences and receive instruction in the principles of moral character and civic virtue. In pursuit of this mission, the K-12 Education Office focuses on five areas: board governance, school leadership, curriculum, classroom instruction, and school culture. We collaborate with parents, teachers, school leaders, board members, and policy makers to found and support a nationwide network of classical schools that revive the American tradition of K-12 education.

Diana Davis Spencer Graduate School of Classical Education

The Hillsdale College Master of Arts Degree in Classical Education is a professional program for those who wish to teach in, administer, or found classical schools, as well as those who seek to deepen their understanding of the principles and practices of classical education. 

This program provides students with a broad philosophical, historical, literary, curricular, and pedagogical perspective on classical education. Elective options include courses in educational leadership, the seven classical liberal arts, and other special topics courses. While this program does not presume to exhaust the subject of classical education or its relevant content, it does build a thorough, extensive, and foundational understanding upon which a lifetime of experience in classical education can be based.

Hillsdale College Education Department

Hillsdale College's Education Department collaborates with a wide variety of internal and external partners in the classical education movement and forms future teachers and administrators for classical schools through departmental courses. These courses encourage students to grow in wisdom and virtue, and impart a rich vision of the whole of classical education and knowledge of certain key facets of it. Moreover, the department’s liberal arts teacher apprenticeship and related classes challenge students to develop a vision for teaching that is grounded in the time-tested curriculum and pedagogy of the liberal arts tradition.

Hillsdale Academy

Hillsdale Academy was founded in 1990 with 45 students. The Academy started with a program for Kindergarten through 8th Grade students and expanded to include high school students in 1998. It now serves over 300 students. In addition to serving local families, the Academy has aided thousands of classical schools and educators through its curriculum reference guides and consulting.

Hillsdale Academy develops within its students the intellectual and personal habits and skills upon which responsible, independent, and productive lives are built, in the firm belief that such lives are the basis of a free and just society.