Don't let the "Great Schools" rating you see on here inform your opinions of Hillside. That rating is based on test scores from 2011, and tells a very small part of the story. Hillside has been my kids' second home for seven years. They are valued as individuals and reap the benefits of a larger school, but the teachers care about them as individuals. The school's unique Artful Learning curriculum engages students in their learning. They learn the basics that all children need as the basis for a solid education, while being immersed in the arts. There are several award-winning teachers on staff, along with many other who deserve awards. Hillside is viewed as the model for Artful Learning throughout the nation. Visitors from other districts visit our school to see what we're doing, and why it's working.
Something else to keep in mind when looking at schools is whether or not the district you are looking at provides associates in kindergarten and first grade classrooms. West Des Moines schools do so, which means another caring adult in the room with your child. They work full-time in kindergarten and part of the day in first grade. It makes a huge difference, and I know of no other district in the metro that provides that. WDM schools also offer more music education and foreign language offerings for elementary than almost every other metro district.
We've been blessed to be a part of Hillside. It's not perfect, but no school is. I love that my children are surrounded by diversity of economics, skin color and language every day. It's how they are learning to see the world.
This school has very caring teachers and assisting staff. The principal does not give up on any child or send them to alternative school. He brings in the best outside sources to help with learning and the students have many chances to learn at field trips as well as a couple of behavior award trips a year. I moved in the middle of a school year but open enrolled my child to stay at Hillside. He was learning a lot, has many opportunities, and great support. The school emphasizes the arts and great character. There is a large diversity of students and no one student is any better then another. They treat every child like he/she will succeed.
We have such loving and caring staff for our children to learn from! Our principal and assistant principal were my elementary teacher and principal, so I love the consistency and stamina of our devoted teachers!