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Harker School, The5
Posted June 14, 2014
- a parent
Based on my 15-year recent experience with Harker where my two children attended kindergarten through high school, Harker is a rewarding investment toward academic, extracurricular, and social excellence and toward admission in top colleges. Based on any metric, Harker is undoubtedly the best school in the Bay Area and is one of the best schools in the nation. The results speak for themselves.
When we were looking at schools, our goal was to find a community that would take a whole child approach to education -- nurturing their character and curiosity as well as their intellect. We're grateful to have found that at Harker. As parents I believe we all have the same dreams for our children For them to grow to be creative, independent thinkers who regard learning not only as a core strength but as a life-long passion. For them to be continually inspired, and in turn, inspire those around them. And most importantly, for our children to be happy and resilient as they grow to pursue their own path.. Every year, we watch our children realize a little more and more of those dreams with a sense of awe and profound gratitude. We are grateful for the teachers who carefully nurture their curiosity and encourage their out-of-the-box questions; the athletic, performing arts, and journalism departments that foster their spirit and sense of team; and their peer group who serve as uniquely caring allies. We have 3 kids with very different personalities/learning styles. One of Harker's internal mantras is "Challenged, not stressed" and we have found that to be true.
What I have been amazed by is how well my child's teachers really know her. For example, at parent teacher conferences, a few mentioned my reserved kid's sense of humor which is rather subtle. Teachers are quick to respond to parent emails and always go the extra mile to make sure my child is happy and confident. I love that she gets four days a week of PE where they really teach skills, and art instruction and music every week and a SEL component. The curriculum has age appropriate performing arts and public speaking opportunities starting in Kindergarten so the kids become confident in front of an audience. Finally, I was a little nervous about over intense academics and competition and cannot be more pleasantly surprised that it isn't the pressure cooker at all that I imagined. Harker stresses "challenge without stress" and there are three levels of language arts and math to meet their needs starting in K. My child started at the lowest level and has moved up after she learned to read (did not come in reading) and shown the ability to take on more challenge. Even at the first level, she was at least .5-1 year ahead of her public school friends. We are very pleased with Harker!
Having graduated, I realize that Harker really is a special place. It has prepared me so well for college that all the classes I have taken at university so far have been easy. The details and facts every student learns in school don t matter, but rather, the way students think and analyze determines their success. When you get a job, your boss will not care about your GPA, but rather he will care about how you think. If I prize anything that Harker has taught me, it is that I know how to think. None of my friends at college understand how special Harker is, because in truth, nowhere really compares. Treasure every moment of your Harker experience, because sooner than later, you will graduate and you will be expected to live your own life, perhaps even to make a difference in the lives of others. I used to think that the Harker moto, K through Life was a little exaggerated, but now I see that we alumni will carry a bit of Harker within ourselves forever, and everything we do will reflect back on the school. That s something that can only be realized once you leave, so I urge all remaining students, make the most of Harker, because you will truly never be in a place like it again.
If you want your kids to grow up with a love for learning, send them here. The "cool" kids here are the smart ones, and students legitimately enjoy helping each other and watching each other succeed. I attended Harker for many years, and I can confidently say that the classroom experiences and lifelong friendships I picked up instilled in me not only a passion for knowledge, but also a closely-knit network of amazing friends who are going on to do great things. Watch out in 10-20 years--many of our country's leaders will count themselves as Harker alumni!
Harker's learning environment is something unique. While I was a student, I always felt surrounded by creative, quirky, and passionate classmates and faculty. It was a great place to learn, challenge assumptions, and be challenged. The school offers quite a range of classes, and very thorough college counseling.
I feel so lucky to have attended Harker. My experiences at the school helped me see that I am capable of so much more than I would have ever believed--academically, athletically, personally. I cannot adequately express in words how deep my gratitude is to the many teachers, coaches, and mentors who genuinely cared about me, listened to me, and made me believe that I can actually contribute and make the world a better place. I graduated from the high school five years ago and am happy to still be in touch with some of the faculty and many classmates. I hope to be friends with these people for many more years to come. They inspire me to be the best that I can be!
I went to Harker from 7th thru 12th grade, and I wouldn't trade my time here for any other middle/high school. Here are a couple reasons why: - CLASSROOM SIZE: Small class sizes w/ extremely dedicated teachers - CLUBS: So many choices - everyone is welcome. - STUDENT COUNCIL: I landed a scholarship at Santa Clara University for my leadership experience in high school. - SPORTS: Never would have played all these sports at a big public school. - COMMUNITY: I don't know anyone that has as much communication with their high school alumni class as I do. The Harker Family is no joke. - COLLEGE READY: Most importantly, college was a breeze for me. We were academically challenged at Harker and it really paiid off. - INTERNSHIP/JOB READY: Landed internships easily during and after college and into my first job once finishing undergraduate school. High school is an important step. I can rave all day long about how much I appreciate the teachers, faculty, and friends that I have made about Harker.
My Harker education (middle school through high school) provided access to the best teachers, incredible extracurricular opportunities and resources, and inspiring peers. The opportunity to customize much of my learning helped me focus on subjects of strength and interest, taught by teachers who are truly passionate about their subjects and are incredibly caring, highly-qualified people. I can't overemphasize how valuable it was to be around people who pushed themselves academically as well as in their extracurricular passions--music, art, dance, athletics, student government, debate, entrepreneurship, engineering, etc. Being at Harker may not be right for everyone, as expectations ARE high, but you can't find a more challenging, yet primarily supportive environment in the area.