My child was bullied by two teachers, in back-to-back years, that left him head-down on his desk, unwilling to engage, and believing he was "stupid," to the level that he spent 18 months intermittently saying that he wanted to kill himself. I spent that time in a useless spiral of attempting to solve the problem, believing that the problem was within our home based on the exchanges I had with the principal and teachers. Finally, distressed, afraid, and out of ideas, I sought counseling support for my child. Two counselors and assessments later, both concluded that my child suffered from trauma induced by cruelty in the HEATHERWOOD ELEMENTARY classrooms by the TEACHERS. There were, in fact, no signs of educational impairments, and his verbal capacity was extraordinarily high. The after-care program located at Heatherwood is a zoo; the children who pour into the after-care environment are frazzled, edgy, and fighthing. Once provider told me that of all the schools she has worked in, Heatherwood kiddos come in from their school day in the worst shape. We moved my son to a different school, and EVERYTHING changed for the better... once he started to understand that to engage in the classroom would not be met with punitive action. I have since relocated my other child (as soon as I could open enroll) and both are socially and academically in healthier environments. Steer clear of Heatherwood's toxic, nasty environment.
Heatherwood's climate is one of good-luck-out-there, kids. The after care experienced physical fighting and name calling on a constant basis, and the playground was one of exclusion and competition. If those traits are the ones you embrace (and many Heatherwood parents do), see how your kid fares. Note that this question specifically cited integrity, compassion, and respect... I never experienced enhancement in my kids from Heatherwood on these traits. In fact, both of my kids showed a downturn in those traits from their preschool years as they completed first grade, and it continued to worsen.
I encountered 3 bad teacher experiences who left my children calling themselves "stupid" repeatedly. One induced math anxiety where it had never before existed in one of my kids, and the other 2 teachers bullied my other kid until he repeatedly stated he wanted to die based on their treatment of him. I have a special feeling of disgust toward Heatherwood teachers, now that I have transferred both of my kids, heard other stories, and experienced progress and kindness toward my children.
Heatherwood begins assigning homework to first graders. When homework hit a peak level of 40 minutes in a night in 2nd grade, I started speaking to other parents, and learned that MANY of us were in a struggle spiral with our kids regarding homework. We rebelled, and had the homework format changed for the entire grade level, but not because of teacher or administration enlightenment. In fact, before the change, the principal mocked me that his daughter did my son's whole week of homework in half the time (20 min) I spent with him in 1 night (40 min). Not only is this a terrible way to engage anyone, adult or child, but it was riddled with lies.... you see, there was a 20 minute writing assignment lodged in there as one of the many expectations of the week...
The neighborhood feel and community involvement is great. However, the class sizes are too large and communication regarding academic progress and behavior is poor. My child has had a couple wonderful engaging teachers, but has also had disengaged and unorganized teachers.
The open floor plan can make concentration difficult for some children. I volunteer in the classroom and find that I am anxious most of the time due to the noise and commotion going on.
Homework is a good way for a parent to track a child's progress throughout the year and intervene with additional help if needed. It also helps children gain a sense of personal accountability by completing it on time. I fear that the lack of homework is going to have negative effects in later years.
Heatherwood has a great neighborhood-school vibe and, rounding-out our second year there now, we have been pleased with the focus on academics. Having said that, we are thrilled that every week our son is experiencing art, music and a healthy amount of outdoor time. As parents, this school checks-off a lot of boxes on our education wish-list. It's not perfect – for example, we could use more foreign language studies – but it's a fantastic public school. We've met great people, our son is thriving and we are grateful that we find ourselves in such an engaged, invigorating community.