We have a second grader at this school who has attended since K. Our child is thriving well here, has made lots of friends, and is progressing well academically. He enjoys his classes and homework and the unfortunately minimal art and music that he gets during school time. The population here is very diverse ethnically and socioeconomically- an ideal environment for my child to grow up knowing how to relate to people from a variety of backgrounds. An incredibly supportive and active parent community and complementary city programs provide a ton of extra care and enrichment to supplement a poorly allocated school district budget. Parents get together to maintain facilities, put on events like the auction and carnival, and through their shared service form bonds that are invaluable to the overall experience at Harding. My personal experience as an active parent volunteer is that the principal and the PTA have a mutually supportive, pragmatically functioning relationship where necessary things get done despite resource issues with the district. I have neither experienced or have been privy to any of the negative issues mentioned in the spring 2015 posts here. We love Harding Elementary so far and are very happy we moved to this district.
Teachers handle conflicts by promoting polite discussion of the issues between conflicting parties. Students "buy in" to a code of conduct that is more or less self identified, ie. "be kind", "keep your hands to yourself", with guidance from the teachers. This code is reinforced daily. The need to cooperate and resolve conflicts peacefully is a strong value that is taught here, unlike the schools I went to in my childhood, where "survival of the fittest" would have been the motto, if there was one at all.
The Harding Elementary School continues to remind the students each year to be honest, have integrity, and to play fair. Each year the students work with the teachers and principal to develop an acronym that the students can remember which reinforces honesty, integrity, and fair play.
The Harding Elementary School is a neighborhood school. The school has an active PTA membership that has teachers and volunteers parents who work to enrich the children’s school experience. The PTA budget is made up of funder raisers and direct donations. The PTA continues to augment the West Contra Cost Unified School District curriculum with additional PTA sponsored Art, Music, Gardening, field trips, and more. There is a niche for each parent to find something in the school that they can help with from the Harding Aftercare School Enrichment Program (HASEP), to organizing and selling the Harding T-shirts and sweatshirts, working on the Spring Auction, helping in the Library, organizing the Chinook Book sale, volunteering as a room parent, to helping with the Fall Carnival. If you provide volunteer time or money, you have the opportunity to improve the environment at Harding for your child and those attending. There are some amazing teachers and some teachers that parents will find fault with. Principal Takimoto is doing a decent job. She inherited a staff of teachers that she is working with to embrace the Common Core Curriculum. She sets expectations, and if you don’t meet them she works with the teachers on improving. There have long term substitute teachers that have thrived with the opportunities and now are teaching full or part time. Harding Elementary School is what you make of it, it is and can continue to be a vibrant local neighborhood public school with involved parents working together to improve the school’s experience for all the children.
I agree with the other parents who have posted concerns about the oppressive administrative climate despite many positives that are present at the school. We too had an experience with the principal who initially acted sympathetic when we shared concerns about our child but her approach ended up being mostly bureaucratic and overall unhelpful. It might be her personality and lack of ability to acknowledge real problems out of anxiety over losing control. She appears to be more concerned about covering up the problem than actually solving it. We were discouraged from speaking up for the sake of our child. We did not want our child to fall out of favor because of our disagreement with the principal, but did not feel good about being quieted. However, I have to disagree with the other parents that the problem is with the principal only. For whatever reason, the overall culture of the school is divisive. Kids are taught to prove themselves in ways that promote negative competition among them. Children do find their own groups but form cliques, which are not friendly to others. I am still trying to figure out what causes this place to be as unfriendly. Bad mojo?
Harding had a tradition of being a happy neighborhood school with great teachers, wonderful kids and involved parents. Now the divisive atmosphere caused by the principal has changed that. WCCUSD, the board and the union are failing the teachers by not addressing the issues that are continually brought to them regarding the principal. When a student is bullied what do you do? Blame the student?
This is our 7th year at the school and we still have a couple more to go with our younger child.We started at the school with high hopes and we have been fortunate with the teachers so far. Positives:amazing Carnival,fun auction night,successfull jazz and art night several nice functions throughout the year,the garden lady is the best,my kids have made very good friends from all backgrounds Negatives:not much music and art though fundraising is plenty for that, Biggest negative:the principal,has very poor people skills and should really not be working in a position where she encounters many people,she is biased towards her friend teachers even if they mistreat students,poor decision making that negatively effects the students,rude to very rude,not able to work cooperatively with anyone,parent community is looking the other way as long as it is not their family targeted,she promotes programs that personally benefit her or her family members, All in all ok school with some caring teachers and some good kids.My kids love their friends and that counts for something,just know concerns might not be dealt with at all
We are happy with Harding; my child is thriving in their 4th year. The best part isn't the school itself but its community. The active pta and dad's clubs are natural extensions of the neighborhood that surrounds the school, and the camaraderie on campus is real. It's a public school with the usual problems. Limited resources, and local/district/state/union bureaucracy limiting change and accountability. There are great teachers and average teachers there like most places. Principal Takimoto seems to be doing a decent job. A staff member quit recently and she is being called a bully here; It does take a strong will to make headway in 'the system' but she is not a bully. She sets expectations, and if you dont meet them she (oh my!) holds you to account. There have been long term sub situations but despite the obstacles out of her control she has filled the gaps with good teachers. Is it Prospect Sierra or Bentley? No. Does it cost 25k? No. It's an above average public school that is very safe and has been steadily improving for many years, with an outstanding community.
When the Principal bullies the teachers, a climate of bullying will reign. This used to be a lovely neighborhood school with excellent caring teachers but since the current Principal, good teachers have fled, others have given up because if they do not obey her ( she takes any feedback or different ideas as a personal attack) or if they don't actively curry favor , they will be punished in room or class assignment or public rude treatment. She has brought in a few teachers that were old colleagues of hers it seems. They are terrible teachers who yell at kids, leave them untended and bully - like she does. She defends them ( one in particular) agains t the parents' legitimate concerns and requests - because they are her favorites. My child still suffers from that year. Why is the District letting her ruin a good school?