Heard so many good things about this school, only to be sadly disappointed by the teachers and poor leadership. As a volunteer in several of my child's classes, I can vouch for "teaching to the test" and the endless pages of worksheets in lieu of any actual teaching. High test scores, but do the kids actually learn anything? PTA runs the school, ensuring their children get the best teachers. Kindergarten teachers were an awesome group, but half no longer teach there or this level. Fit team has good intentions.
The worst school in SCV. PTA...parties only.
Does not inspire students to learn. Teachers leave much to be desire and teach to test. Endless worksheets...substitute for teaching. Poor excuse for a school.
Trust the negative reviews about this school. Teachers: Don't get me wrong, there are some decent and good teachers here, but this school has enough of the bad teachers (some are known to be lazy, and even worse some just yell at the students daily and some bully their students, some are absent often due to district meetings, etc.). Even though parents & students complain to the District, not much is done. Academics: It's a lot of busy work filling out worksheets. Not much of actual passionate & engaged learning or diversified learning. The exceptional student doesn't get much in the way of enrichment or propelling that student forward. If the child has special needs student, expect denial & minimizing of the needs and even intimidation if you don't agree with their minimal services. Other Parents/ Students: There are some nice parents & students, but I don't know why but some parents & students think it's fine to exclude others and act "haughty" (without a reason). Also, some of the students can be a "bully" to others. The parents & students who have close ties to school are treated much differently than others.
Unfortunately, we felt that the teachers my son had were not motivated and passionate about teaching. We had our son attend this school for two years (Kinder and 1st), and both teachers lacked enthusiam in the classrom and failed to regularly communicate to parents so that parents had the opportunity to get involved with their children's education. My son's 1st grade teacher was even known to yell at the children and told parents that their children needed medical attention because they couldn't sit still in the classroom. I heard from multiple parents that this had been going on for years, and parents even complained to the district but nothing was done. As a result, we decided this year to take our children out of Helmers along with other parents that are are disappointed with how the school is being run.
Yes, the school is mostly modular trailers. It was scheduled to be rebuilt, but then CA decided education wasn't important. But the modulars don't make the school, the teachers do. The principal is very committed, but constrained by the district. The teachers are like teachers everywhere, some are great, some mediocre. The homework is ridiculous, worksheet after worksheet, (let them spend 30 more minutes in class). The after/before school care is adequate but inflexible (full time is the only option) and can't really help with homework. There are no frills here, a few after school programs for 6-8 weeks that cost. Teachers don't teach daily PE, it's "desk-ercize" and "Fit Team Fridays"; no one teaches the skills and rules of sports. As a double-income educated family, Helmer's and SUSD does little to help us reach a balance. We all need to take responsibility for the situation - when we vote, when asked to donate time/money. These are our children and the future isn't cheap.
If you want teaching to the test & running every Friday for necklace charms then this is your school. The PTA, while very involved, is focused on party planning. Do not try to suggest anything new, progressive or academically inclined. They say their "high API scores" are reason enough to maintain the status quo. The administration shifts parents' concerns back on the teachers, as if no vision is required from the top! (Want more science and projects? Ask your teacher to do it!) If you want your child spending 95% of their day doing worksheets, you'll be thrilled. And for a school in a relatively affluent area, a shocking number of parents couldn't bother to crack open their wallets for the direct donation drive. To top it off, the principal honored someone on "Heroes' Day" (9/11) for CHANGING A FORM. That alone should tell you all you need to know. Safety is lacking -- they've got "volunteer" stickers (which ANYONE can just walk right up, sign any name, grab a sticker and you're good to go--no one behind the counter looks up to see who's signing in!) And the teachers, well, they just fall in line behind the administration -- if test scores are OK, that's all that matters!
Oh, Helmers... where to begin. Uninspiring campus. Mostly mobile trailers. My daughter has attended three other elementary schools in the area (we moved a lot), and she loved school. Until she got to Helmers. Sucked the joy out of learning. Her teacher was not very good. The PTA is a clique, closed to new ideas and modern ways of doing things. We are pulling my daughter out and trying home schooling. By the way, don't believe the positive reviews on this site. Want proof? Look at the posted dates. See six reviews posted on Sept 20, 2009? Think that just happened? Or was it orchestrated by the PTA?