This is a safe place to share your honest opinions of a school, whether good or bad.
The Harker School Lower Division5
Posted September 13, 2014
- a parent
The Harker School is the most complete/well-rounded educational experience in the bay area. The head of school for K-3 is a smart, savvy administrator. The counselor that works hand-in-hand with academic head is beyond amazing. Excellent administration for K-3. We have not hit the later grades yet so can't speak beyond the early years. The school is incredibly well organized, they know each and every child and are laser focused on what is in the best interest of the child. Communication is very strong and parents are well informed. The parent community is incredibly warm. The children are respectful and kind. Staff set expectations high and children rise to meet expectations. My second grader is learning how to study and be a responsible, hard-working student yet I have to drag him out of school around 5:30 every day because he does not want to leave all the fun! The lunch options, snack bar and before/lunch/after school recent college graduate staff are all phenomenal. We have attended top 20 east coast prep, and other schools in the bay area and Harker is the most complete program. We are so thrilled to have found Harker!
Lots of bullying and the admin seemed to try very hard not to have to do anything about it (e.g., the behavior did not meet criteria for bullying, the other child apologized each time after physically harming my child, the incident was not witnessed by someone who could prove what the other child did). Teachers were really good and I wish my child did not end up so miserable. Won't be attending next year.
This school is just incredible! For K-5, students are "leveled" for Math and Language Arts. There are three levels - which are 6mo ahead, 12 mo ahead, and 18 mo ahead of grade level. In this way your kids get advanced instruction at their academic level which still with same-age classmates (i.e. - similar social skills). Further, many (like my kids) have different abilities for Math and Language Arts. My kids - all three at Harker - have moved between levels (both up and down) to find the right balance between struggle and challenge. After-school (BEST) activities are stellar! Athletics are inclusive and competitive and the coaching is great. Teachers are simply amazing, and the kids are really the academic rock stars of the future. This year, the high school kids at Harker claimed 11 of the 109 perfect AP test scores globally. That's more than 10% of the worldwide total at this one school. If my sons choose to focus on Math, they will have as much math by high school graduation as I had in my 4-yr BSEE (calc, diffEq, linear algebra, & signals and systems - not kidding). Absolutely amazing.
My child just completed the Harker lower school after starting from kindergarten and it was just an incredible experience! Most people have heard about Harker's exceptional academics...but it is the goal of the school to put your child where they are best suited academically, have quality learning, to challenge them slightly....without stress. I am a parent that let Harker do, what Harker does....and the end result: a confident, independent, well mannered, well rounded child with strong academics, strong moral character, exceptional study skills, and remarkable ethics. Friends and fun are plentiful. I cannot ask for anything better, than a child who LOVES the school, teachers, and classmates, and developed a strong love of learning! The one thing I wanted to offer as a parent is the best education that I would be able to provide and I have been completely satisfied over the years with no regrets. I was just lectured by my own 10 year old child that parents, teachers, and students cannot "slack" off the last few days of school because every day counts, and every day makes a difference! Fantastic!
This is a great school. The academics are successful due to meticulous attention to the details of what each child needs. Children are "challenged without being stressed". The teachers, staff, and facilities people are not only fabulous at their jobs, but they are warm and welcoming to the children and unfailingly courteous and receptive to the parents. The school has an entire separate staff (compare to really great adult camp counselors) whose job it is to make recess, lunch, before-school, and after-school fun - offering activities from music, art and science to all sorts of athletics, informal games, and unstructured playground time. Even the uniforms are well thought out. They look sharp, wear well, and are comfortable for the classroom and the playground. The children, if you see them in class or on the playground, look happy, natural, and comfortable. The reason I first looked at Harker was because a neighbor said "My friends kids went there and the kids loved it." My son loves it, too, and I can see that he is fully engaged and growing in so many different ways.
Excellent school! Couldn't be happier! Teachers are remarkable and are very well in tune to how your child is doing. Any time there appears to be even the slightest concern, I have been contacted before a true problem arises. My daughter loves the school and enjoys all that Harker has to offer. The curriculum and amazing extracurricular activities are unlike any other school can offer. The investment in her education is really worth it to me, as I truly feel that Harker is building a very strong educational foundation for her.
We picked Almaden because we believe children need to be in an environment that nurtures their creativity, instead of only teaching reading and math. Our world is changing so fast we can't possibly know what kinds of careers will be important in the future, so it's critical that children learn how to think (versus how to take a test). Almaden focuses on a love of learning that is geared specifically to her type of intelligence. We couldn't be happier.
What we like about Harker is that although they do an excellent job on academics, the school also has excellent facilities and programs for extracurricular activities. Unlike some other private schools in the Bay Area, Harker does more than just focus on academics alone.
I go to Harker and I love it. At public schools, and some private schools you have to learn exactly the same thing as others, and it was way too easy for me, but when I go here, it is challenging, and the teachers rock. Great Academics. Also, great after-school activities, sports, performing department (choir, drama, plays, shows, dance). I Jazz dance and am on the swim team!! Harker is the best!!!!!
Diversity of the student body is one of the strengths of the school. Students are warm and friendly. The school is extremely well managed and well-organized. Strong administration. Differentiated placement by achievement in math and language arts (versus by age) allows students to thrive in their 'zone of proximal development. This is a traditional, teacher directed curriculum in which parent involvement in their children's education is discouraged. Disciplined classrooms and organized teachers create strong environment for mastering of academic skills and exceptional achievment in standardized tests. However, the nurturing of creativity and leadership are not obviously apparent. Also, administration and faculty do not reach out to parents to create a sense of community.