This is a safe place to share your honest opinions of a school, whether good or bad.
Brandeis Hillel Day School2
Posted March 30, 2015
- a parent
I agree with the review prior to this. There is absolutely no consistency within or between the grades for academics and little differentiation. Overall it's academically very weak. There is a lot of attrition in the lower grades with people leaving left and right. The Jewish studies are strong, but otherwise it's not worth the money, not even close. We are out of here!
I am surprised that no one has stepped up yet to write about what is really going on at this school. While there are some positives -the great sense of community and a handful of really excellent teachers, the school is nothing short of a disaster. We are among several families who have or will be moving on to other schools. The most serious issue in my opinion is the weak academics -this is something acknowledged by almost every parent in the school yet nothing seems to be done about it. Humanities and Judaic studies are OK (though there is room for improvement there too). Math and science are extremely weak. My niece and nephew are at a public school and have a far greater understanding of these subjects than my kids do. They spend quite a lot of time "learning" Hebrew yet they don't seem to actually learn more than I remember learning in weekly Hebrew school as a kid (which is not much). There isn't much of a set curriculum for most subjects -teachers seem to do as they please with little consistency from grade to grade or even month to month. I hope that the new leadership can turn things around but I'm just not willing to take that risk with my children's education.
My second grader actually came home with an end of the year 2nd grade review math packet that included test prep problems for the PSLE, which is the national Singapore Primary School Leaving Exam administered to all sixth graders! I was so impressed that my second grader was given this review problem: A, B and C are three numbers. The average of B and C is 5 greater than the average of A and B. If C is 38, find the total of A, B and C. Even more so, I have been totally impressed with how many young children are reading books like Harry Potter, Percy Jackson and The Mysterious Benedict Society. What is even more impressive is how the school makes sure that the same children receive 30 minutes of phonics instruction every single day! I am very impressed with how my child spent five months of in-depth study on Solids, Liquids and Gases this year, too! I am very impressed that the school has such a rigorous general studies curriculum along side of 90 minutes of Hebrew/Judaic Studies, and seven weekly specials (3 periods of gym, and one period of each: Art, Music, Technology and Library) a week! And, the school makes sure the kids still receive two recess breaks and lunch time.
Love Brandeis! The head of the SF campus (started in 2008?) effected several changes to both the curriculum and staff, making an already wonderful school even stronger. My son has had amazing teachers who encourage students to think critically, participate actively, celebrate their own personal strengths and passions, and treat others with respect and kindness. As a non-observant Jew, I had my concerns about the time spent on Jewish studies but have been pleasantly surprised. More traditional academics have not suffered in the least. When alums visit, they report being extremely well-prepared for high school. Many in both independent and public schools are in leadership positions on Student Council, sports teams, clubs, etc. The high schools themselves report that Brandeis students are extremely well-prepared. Are the kids at Brandeis perfect and no one's feelings are ever hurt? No, of course not. That being said, I have a hard time believing that there are many places that compare to Brandeis in the camaraderie amongst students (both lower and upper grades) and the warmth of the school community. I am so thankful that our family is a part of Brandeis.
The great: The academics are rigorous but taught in a humane and caring way. Graduates excel - many go on to Lowell. My kids constantly impress me and others with what they know for their age. They have made close and lifelong friends here. Community is great (surprising comments below). The bad: The administration school is arrogant and price is high. That said, a new head of school this year seems to be improving things. Also, not ethnically diverse. And, and a glaring omission from a school that teaches a foreign language from Kindergarten (Hebrew) is the lack of any Spanish or other language curriculum in mid school. The neutral: The Hebrew and Judaica component is a burden unless the family is Jewish. If you are an observant Jew, the school's observance of holidays etc is a great benefit in scheduling and academics. Bar Mitzvah prep is built in.
I am startled by the two previous reviews. I am a middle school parent nearing the end of our time at Brandeis and my child has thrived at this school. This year the school hired a strong, effective principal. Jewish studies & Hebrew is not taking away from general studies. It is natural to establish close ties to those that share similar interests and lifestyles. I have witnessed the strong community at Brandeis come together, repeatedly. It is sincere and heartfelt. My child had a wonderful lower school experience & any concerns about the middle school proved unfounded. Middle school is better than ever. Alum report excelling in high school. The administration is very responsive to the vocal parent body and the faculty is typically very caring and available to the students. I couldn't ask for a better school for my child and family. It's all it claims to be.
The school now has the best facility in town. Much of the administration s energy and resources over the past decade have been focused in that direction. However the education, which the school stresses as superior falls short of the mark. Many graduates struggle in high school and often rely on tutors help. The school culture is snobbish. Some grades are OK others have cliques. The school faculty and administration are politically correct and often send mixed messages to the children. The nice and polite fa ade is all it is a pretense. I don t feel that the school genuinely fosters strong moral and family values or genuinely cares about students as individuals. It is a great school for some, but not for all. If you are interested in investing in their child s education consider this school, but make sure it is a right fit for you before you spend over $20,000.