We are in our second year at GHES (this year with a third grader and kindergartner) and we come all the way from SE Atlanta via admin transfer. Why? This school is a hidden gem and carries the banner for elementary International Baccalaureate in Atlanta. Parents and the community are super involved and invested. It is majority Hispanic / ESOL but those challenges are met by an amazing amount of resources and the best teachers and administrators in APS. In return, my children get real-world diversity in a challenging educational setting, and my kindergartner is in a dual-language immersion program that will render her fluently bilingual if she stays the course throughout her school years. (I'm a bit jealous of that.)
I love the teachers at Garden Hills and feel many of them work very hard with the children. My student will be graduating from this school soon and I have had very few complaints! I have seen administration come and go, and I can say from my experience, that some used to be more concerned with the general population of the school, and not only the "neighborhood" kids and parents. Also they were more approachable and knowledgeable about what was actually going on in the classrooms. But overall, I have been happy with my child's experience.
I'd venture to say that if teaching was a juggling contest with each ball representing a different reading or math level, Garden Hills teachers could juggle the most balls without dropping a single one! GHES is in an urban area, and as with most public schools in this setting, there is a wide range of socio-economic conditions among the student body. It's an absolute necessity that the teachers at GHES have the skills to work with this broad range of abilities. They use tools such as Star Math and Accelerated Reader to take frequent assessments throughout the year, and these help identify the course of action for EACH STUDENT. Some are great at math, but struggle in reading, and vice-versa. Our teachers are trained to identify learning disabilities and take a firm course of action that suits EACH STUDENT. That ability to differentiate is mastered by every teacher at Garden Hills and administered with dedication to success.
In talking with friends who have children in other local schools, I feel like Garden Hills teachers give a little more homework than most. That being said, I think it's important to teach the children good time-management skills at a young age, because the amount of work students do in middle school and high school these days requires a stamina that can't be developed overnight. The amount is not overbearing, and for the most part there is no homework given over school vacations except for extra credit packets. I've been happy with the homework aspect at GHES.
This is our sixth year at Garden Hills with our two daughters. There has not been a single day in those six years that our children have wanted to stay home from school! The teachers at the school are highly-trained and skilled to teach at all levels, and equally as important to me, they "see" each and every child. They know the children's names, they celebrate in their successes, they push them to do their best, and support them when they struggle. The teachers are very accessible, and are happy to get together with you and make a plan if there are concerns. I've been active with the PTA for several years, and it is a thrill to be part of the energy our Principal Tommy Usher brings- he is proactive, and has an incredibly positive, tireless spirit that the parents and teachers rally around. We have made great friends in the other GHES parents that share our dedication to seeing Mr. Usher's vision through, with our children's success and sense of well-being at the center of it all. It has just been a great pleasure to be a part of the school family and watch our girls grow into confident, happy, well-educated individuals! We'll be forever grateful for this time in our lives!
My son is a 3rd grader at Garden HIlls Elementary. I am blown away by how welcoming the teachers, parents, and administration was to me and my son since day one. The school is very diverse with over 39 nationalities represented. Garden HIlls was the first IB school in Atlanta Public Schools and is still used as a model for other IB schools. Tommy Usher, school principal is very approachable and welcoming. He truly loves the school and the kids in it. Any parent that attends this school should get involved and get to know the parents and the teachers and you will find a world full of love and compassion. The school has just implemented a dual immersion program this school year. My son comes home every day excited about his teachers and his gifted class. He is very happy here. I believe that Garden Hills is reflective of the global community in which we live. Teachers have been trained in the Orton Gillingham method and Saxon math is used as well. I am also very happy with the student teacher ratio. My son's foreign language teacher Ms. Delgado is amazing and his 3rd grade teacher Ms. J. Brooks is phenomenal. I couldn't be happier. I can't believe this is a public school. The school has a foundation that raises additional money to support curriculum and instruction for teachers and students that the stretched school system cannot provide. 5 stars for Garden Hills!! I went to a brick laying ceremony today. Additional funds were raised to support the learning gardens on campus. Garden HIlls represents what all schools should endeavor to be: inclusive, diverse, and progressive with involved parents and a caring community.
Our daughter is now in 4th grade and has been attending Garden Hills since she was in Kindergarten. We have been exceptionally pleased with every teacher she has had since Kindergarten. They have been able to challenge her when she needs more, and they have been able to identify areas of weakness and given the enrichment she has needed to excel in those areas. Our daughter is confident and has developed a love of learning which is a direct result of the investment relationally. emotionally and academically by her teachers.
We have a fourth grade daughter at Garden Hills. We also have older children. We have been very pleased with our experience at Garden Hills because the teachers and staff are truly amazing. The families at our school are authentically invested in our school and work to support our teachers and staff making it a rich environment for children to learn. Our administration is the best I have experienced in any of our schools. They work to provide quality programming and training for our teachers and they also stay on top of the best practices for learning environments. We have not only been approved for a state funded PreK program at Garden Hills, but we have also been approved to offer the highly acclaimed Dual Language Immersion program. Garden Hills offers it in Spanish, and we have begun our new 2015/2016 school year with two Kindergarten classes of DLI students. I wish I had a Kindergartner! These students will move up each year and remain in the program while a new Kindergarten class will start each year in the DLI program. Studies show such positive results in students who matriculate in a DLI program. It also works very well with our International Baccalaureate curriculum. We have Eureka Math and many teachers are now trained in the Orton Gillingham reading program. These are just a few examples of how our principal has enriched the teaching and learning at Garden Hills to make it one of the leaders in education. Our teachers are very happy, which means our children are happy, which means our families are happy. I am so thankful to have such an excellent choice for schools right here in our neighborhood!
This year my daughter entered kindergarten at GHES and I can say it has been the best year of her life and our lives. Her teacher is amazing- everyday she comes home excited and happy telling me about something new she learned that day. The principal and faculty are accessible, warm and caring. I have found many new friends within the active, caring parents of this school. The staff and parents help make this school a place I literally have to hold my daughter from running out the door to every morning- weekends included. We are excited for 1st grade and my son cannot wait to join his sister in the future! A place of many friends and caring adults- all in a beautiful building and an amazing neighborhood! thank you, Garden Hills!!!
My child is starting his 4th grade year and has been here since kindergarten. I am so in love with this amazing place. The students- diverse, smart, full of hugs and love their teachers. The faculty and staff- hard working, giving, caring and proud. From ESOL to Challenge- everyone gives 110%. The principal and AP- a team that supports their staff, does not micromanage, takes education seriously, and constantly strives to improve any and all areas. The parents- a tight knit community who push their school to be the best it can be for their children. Our test scores have improved greatly and that is due to everyone mentioned here. GHES is strong, proud, and you are LUCKY if you get to attend here.