This is a safe place to share your honest opinions of a school, whether good or bad.
Posted December 16, 2014
- a parent
We are very happy with Hillbrook school for our Kindergarten and Second Grade children. The school is warm and inviting, has a fabulous campus and facilities, and amazing teachers and staff. They focus on the whole child and do a great job of giving children a well rounded education.
The Kindergarten has a 1:8 teacher student ratio. Teachers implement a co-teaching model to teach and meet the needs of their students in a learning space spanning 3 physical classrooms. The students are not only learning academics but there is a strong emphasis on social emotional learning, which provides a solid foundation for children to succeed in the classroom and beyond.
We find the community of parents to be quite diverse and welcoming. There are parents with all different backgrounds, experiences, and careers. This is one of the things that as I parent I love about our school.
No school is perfect in every way, but Hillbrook is the right fit for our children and our family and we are so lucky to be a part of its wonderful community.
We have been at Hillbrook for many years and have two children attending. Our children have been thrilled being at Hillbrook - they love to learn and they are taught to think outside the box. They learn different ways to problem solve and are given opportunities to think for themselves every day. The ipad program is well thought out and managed. The teachers love to teach - they are innovative and caring while providing a strong well balanced education. I know that my children will thrive when they move on to high school and college because of the excellent foundation they have received at Hillbrook. I love the fact that they are also given the opportunity to learn about music, language and art at an in-depth level. We love Hillbrook - if you are looking for a strong well balanced independent school that fosters the love of learning, take a tour of Hillbrook.
We are feeling a bit lukewarm about this school at the moment. Of course there are a lot of really great things about Hillbrook.The grounds are lovely, the extra programs engaging, and most importantly our children don't have to deal with overt classroom disruptions all day long, because most of the kids are entitled, but well enough behaved. The teachers are good enough (mostly inexperienced and at the beck and call of the power-parents' demands). My concern is that our real values and background are not represented in this school. We didn't go to a small liberal arts college ,where our every thought was indulged as brilliant, so we don't fit in very well with the parent population at this school. Most of the parents seem to be trust funders themselves, so we often feel like the fish out of water at events. I would welcome a little more diversity in ideas, backgrounds, size, abilities etc at the school. Overall, it is a good enough school, just could work on a few things.
I had 2 children at Hillbrook, one was there for 5 years and the other for 7 years. We chose the school and stayed for many years because we liked the small class sizes, the great teachers, the beautiful campus, no standardized testing until 4th grade, no grades until 5th grade but it became apparent to us as our children got older that the school was not a good fit for them. Hillbrook thinks they are very different than Harker or Stratford because they offer classes with dedicated teachers in art, music, library, P.E., languages (Spanish and Mandarin) but as it turns out, they are the same as Harker and Stratford. All three are very traditional schools. Hillbrook is NOT a good school for children that have any learning differences or are gifted. I would also say that it is not a great school if your child is quiet and soft spoken. That said, children and parents that love a traditional classroom, traditional teaching, and hours of homework every night will love Hillbrook!
Hillbrook is the DREAM school for a child of Silicon Valley. Headmaster Mark Silver came in and kept what was working (rock star teachers with warmth and depth) made key changes in curriculum (Singapore Math, a new, excellent literacy program) and most importantly, innovated like crazy. The iPad program is a model for the country, not just because it was first, but because the iPads are used where and how it makes sense to use them. Resident Teachers bring down the teacher:student ratio and infuse the school with fresh ideas and leading-edge teaching techniques. Flexible learning spaces mean more interesting projects and fewer rote learning assignments. My kid retains way more from the Hillbrook way of teaching than our previous school. One other thing that might not sound like a big deal, but it is to me. The school places a value on funny. Kids tell jokes at Flag every week, for instance, and the best teachers have a funny, playful way about them that makes smaller children feel happy and older children stay engaged.
My son is in his fifth year at Hillbrook. He says he learns the most in science and likes to learn the most in art. The art, music, and science programs are excellent. The campus is beautiful. The social experience has been positive, and my son's class is well bonded. The reading and writing programs are strong and differentiated, but don't stand out over a good public school program. Singapore Math provides more depth in the math curriculum than traditional US curriculums, but the differentiation is limited and doesn't challenge the highest performing students. The lower school Spanish program is a waste of time, providing very basic vocabulary in a class with limited classroom management and organization, which stressed my son out. PE is almost every day, so the kids are active and fit. While there are occasional projects, I wouldn't call it project based learning. Technology use is mostly consumption based. Creative use of technology has been a stop motion video in art and a few video or slide presentations in social studies. There isn't any programming. Teacher quality varies from good to excellent, similar to public school. Class size is small. My son loves going to Hillbrook.
At first view, the setting at Hillbrook is breathtaking and it's quite easy to be taken in by the sites. But what we have come to love most about our school goes way beyond the scene; as you peel back the layers of Hillbrook, its the sense and strength of community & core principles which truly advocate living life to it's fullest through the promotion of being your best and taking risks while also encouraging the utmost in kindness & compassion; promoting our youth to critically think, question and DO while also making 'smart' choices. When it comes to making decisions on behalf of our kids, we receive incredible guidance from administrators and have found the overall communication between ourselves and our children's teachers to be outstanding to say the least. We simply love that our kids are learning the principles of science inside of a garden and chicken coup; that mathematics is being taught with an incredibly progressive approach; that instruments are being used in music class and that our children have the opportunity to partake in subjects including Spanish, PE and Art. Hillbrook is an amazing place and we feel blessed to be sending our children there.
We have two children at Hillbrook and we are in our third year at the school. We chose Hillbrook primarily because we share the school's vision for being a "life preparatory school" that is focused on the whole child. We love the small class size and that our children's learning styles are known within the school community. Additionally, it was important to us to find a school that offered art, music, language and science as a core part of the curriculum starting in Junior Kindergarten along with reading, writing and math. Another important component for us was the school's focus on social emotional learning and it's understanding that there is a lot of learning that happens outside of the classroom. We have watched our children thrive as both students and friends at the school and look forward to the years to come.
The campus is beautiful, the teachers are great. The administration is useless. When faced with relatively simple issues from long lunch lines, to traffic jams at drop off and pickup, to loud kids in class and bullying, this administration lacks foresight, pro-activeness and the ability to implement corrective actions in a timely manner. Had this been a non-tuition based school these issues might not be so glaring. But when one pays near college level tuition for pre-k, then one expects a better experience. Save your money, there's a reason why people pay a premium to live in Los Gatos, the public schools are actually quite good!