I have been a parent at Santiago Hills for 11 years. I have seen 4 principal come and go. Over the years the school has continuously improved. The leadership of the current principal is beyond compare. He puts the children first. This year has seen significant change and is taking some time for adjustment with many new staff members. However, the children are still thriving. The amount of new staff is due to retirement, illness, and significant school growth. Yes, the school has a great APPAS program. Acceptance to this program is done at the district level. The principal and APPAS teachers do not have a say in this matter. I have written this in response to the angry, disgruntled person who wrote the review below. I have been actively involved in the PTA at Santiago Hills and have never been shown favoritism and that includes my child not being accepted into the APPAS program. He simply did not get in because his test scores and grades were not as strong as the 34 students that were accepted into Santiago Hills 4th grade APPAS program.
To the parent below me. I just moved here from private school and I think you need to check your facts. The teachers are excellent and Mr. Pace is a wonderful principal. I had a terrible principal at the private school and he knew that and knows how I watch over everything and he is still easy to talk with and supportive.
Don't come to this school unless your child is accepted to APAAS. As the previous reviews, no academic advancement/challenge for advanced kids. The teacher and the principal don't care about them since they believe APAAS already covers smart children enough. Homework and projects in this school are not efficient since most teachers are lazy to think better for children. Even an APAAS teacher used the same questions with ones in previous years, so that my neighborhood made their child memorize several paragraphs for the test. Principal C, please check your writings with your children before you send them out to the parents. After reading several emails from you, my older one who used be in this school sincerely recommends you to attend Mrs. Manchester's class to learn how to write.
I have been a long time parent here. SH used to be great, but now it has one of the highest teacher turnover rate. New principal brought many new teachers who are nice but academically incompetent, and many good teachers, old and new, don't stay because principal is on power trip and acts like a dictator. Principal is so incompetent the district had to do a survey - not in other schools. API and STAR scores lowest in SH history and are sliding down a steep slope, while the school is going drastically downhill. School has strange policies not found in other schools, such as room reps needing teacher approval and school sends "supervisors" to supervise volunteer parents, who are in clear view of teachers. Many long-time PTA committee members quit due to low morale and because they can't stand the principal. PTA activities are virtually none compared to before. School culture is based on sycophantism and flattery, not merit system as it used to be. No academic advancement/challenge for smart kids but only praise for mediocrity. School is so problematic the district has already intervened on several occasions.
My school is great because of all of the teachers, PTA members, front office staff, nurse and principal. Everyone is very helpful & my children have been attending for 4 years. The after school day program Kids Stuff is also excellent.
I love this school!!!! This is our 4th year here and I can't sot loving the people here. The front office staff is awesome and so are the teachers. It's a close knit family and all 4 of my kids love it.
Minus points - 1. One of the office staff is very rude. 2. No good writing programs (Ask the principal! You will know what I mean) 3. The principle has no overall academic vision for the school. He's a just joker. If this school is strong academically, it is because of dedicated parents, not because of the principle or teachers. Besides, most families have tutors or put their children academic programs after school. 4. Strong favoritism to teacher's children. Last year, there were funny wishes among parents: Manchester should have one more child so some children could be pulled out from regular classes to his class for Math, as he did for his old son. This year, one girl whose mom is a teacher here got a priority to get in APAAS in this school after failing in the first place. 5. Useless GATE program. GATE children're usually abandoned with several worksheets for teachers' convenience to teach children who have troubles in Math. Plus points -1. Very involved parents. 2. Wonderful 1st grade teachers! Mrs. Walls and Mrs. Bates, you guys're wonderful teachers! 3. Great APAAS classes (I didn't like one of them, though.)
Santiago Hills Elementary School is a very friendly, low key school, with an age appropriate expectation placed on the kids. If you are looking for a cutthroat, competitive, academically demanding and overachieving elementary school - this isn't it (however, you may want to check out Turtle Rock Elementary or Bonita Canyon). I read a review that complained about the classes being taught at "the dumbest level to accommodate the special ed students" and claims the principal only gives "lip service" to parents. Perhaps that parent would do better at another school where only perfect looking and academically intelligent children attend and where the principal only accommodates the elitists at the school. I have found this principal does not bow down to over demanding parents and encourages the kids by a positive approach. He is pleasant and the kids like him.
My kid attended Brywood Elementary and Santiago Hills Elementary. Both are fine schools, and the academic rigor level and homework amount depend on which teacher you have, but in general my kid (who attends regular class and is in GATE group getting mostly As) told me that: 1. Santiago Hills is more difficult academically than Brywood. 2. Santiago gives more work in form of many projects. 3. Kids in his Santiago class appear to be "smarter" than kids in his class in Brywood. That's my kid's impression, but often, kids' impression is more accurate. Many people say Canyon View Elementary school is the best elementary school in Irvine, while Santiago Hills is 2nd; and I have no reason to disagree with this assessment. Anyway, my kid likes Santiago Hills better, but he also liked Brywood. One good thing about Irvine school seems to be that there are no bully kids. My impression is that all Irvine schools seem to be pretty good, so the most important thing to me is that we live close enough to elementary, Middle School and High School, so our kid can walk or ride bike to school. Other than that, I really care less which school in Irvine or Tustin he goes to.
We just moved our kid to Santiago Hill and love this school. Every one in the school including the Principal is so welcoming. My kid's teacher is excellent and the Principal is nice and very caring for his students.
I love the school my teachers are the best, parents and the community support is great!!
I am fairly new to the neighborhood and have one child in this school. My early impression is that the teachers and the administration overly-depend on very active parent involvement. The principle seems to be really engaged and active, but he needs to focus on improving teacher performance, changing the culture to one of greater teacher accountability and on winning a blue ribbon award or a distinguished school designation to re-instill pride and to support continued parent involvement. The PTA is very active, but focused almost exclusively on helping teachers do their jobs and raising money. What is really needed is to support and challenge the teachers and administrators to achieve academic excellence. The site council and the PTA is no substitute for strong administrative leadership and teacher excellence and accountability. Overall, it is safe and inviting place, and with an API of 927 is an good performing school, but I worry that the school culture is ok with their existing performance and that academic excellence is not central to its strategy and activities.
We are very impressed by Santiago Hills. Our children have done very well at the school. While some of the teachers are older and a bit old fashioned - the school is safe and inviting. The atmosphere at the school has greatly changed with the arival of a new principal. The teachers seem warmer and the front office is very inviting.
We have had an outstanding experience at Santiago Hills with the exception of Kindergarten. I frequently tell incoming parents that once their kids get past Kindergarten it is great from there. We were blessed with terrific teachers for both of our daughters. Some parents have complained about lack of discipline, but that appears to be pretty common in schools today with their philosophies. It's a different world today and it's up to parents to address the issues at home.
This school is the worst school in Irvine. My kids went there for a 2 years and I finally pulled them out. The teachers are mostly old and unwilling to change old ways of teaching. I often times worked there as a helper and have heard teachers scream at kids! This school has already gone through 3 principals in I think 5 years! Principals let the kids walk all over them, there is absolutly no discipline at this school. Horrible school.
This school is over rated. It does well due to overwhelming parental involvement. Some teachers are very lazy and totally unwilling to go the extra mile for your child. They rely entirely too much on parent volunteers. There is a huge lack of dicipline in this school....for the kids and the teachers. Curriculum is only geared to the middle of the road, and could really use some vision to teach kids to think outside of the box. If the parents didn't dedicate so much time and care, this school would be fall apart. Too bad the teachers and administration can't put this much effort and responsibility into Santiago Hills, what a great place this could be.
I have had 3 kids go through Santiago hills and the Principal there now is clearly the worst in the 16 years we have lived in the neighborhood. The school is good but it is hit or miss with the teachers.They vary from good to bad so cross your fingers at the start of the school year.Unfortunately it is virtually impossible to switch your child out of a bad teachers class. The teachers union runs the show and ther is little accountability.There are a ridiculious number of short weeks, early dismissals, late starts, and teacher absenteeism.Really the school is over rated and only rated as high as it is because of tremendous parental involvement.The after school day care however is excellent and has a caring qualified staff.
Our experience with this school was overall positive. The kindergarten teachers were great, the principal is involved and responsible. The pta works very hard, they did wonderful projects and activities for the students throughout the school. My concern, however, is that students who are above average don't seem to have opportunities to advance more. The curriculum is strictly applied, and the students who have the skills to go beyond the curriculum are not motivated in this environment. Also, I think that the level of math in kindergarten was too low. Most kids at that age are ready to go beyond just counting.
This school is wonderful. The teachers are friendly and nice, as well as the student. The curriculum is amazing. Any child is lucky to attend Santiago Hills.
Excellent school! The principal is very fair. Our two boys attended this school last year before moving out of state. Excellent teachers and curriculum.
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