Community outreach is a big part of the Hale experience. The kids learn so much from being in the neighborhood, helping care for their school, and participating in fundraisers (like Jump Rope for Heart) and run-for-a-cause.
The love our community has for this school shines through the beauty of the grounds (the Peace Garden and Little Free Libraries are some highlights) and the high level of organized PTA involvement. The office staff, under strong leadership, sets a tone of caring and pride in the community. The teaching staff is exemplary, showing passion for their subjects and students. As a single parent, I feel welcomed and valued. There are so many wonderful events that bring families together around physical, social, and academic learning happening in school... With a fair mix of just for fun thrown in. I'm so glad my child is a Hale Bear for K-4!
Hale was an excellent introduction to school for my rising first grader. Teachers collaborate with their grade level colleagues so students have some shared experiences but also distinctive experiences in their own classroom. As a working mom, I felt that I was frequently invited to volunteer with a high level of flexibility -- my time was valued and appreciated. My daughter loved her teachers (both classroom and specialist) and cried when Kindergarten ended, because her teacher had built such a strong classroom community of caring and respect. She has already developed strong habits as a student, and learned much about being a good citizen. Phy Ed education was another significant highlight. The teachers make exercise fun while also teaching important skills and healthy habits. Their ties to the community (with Jump Rope for Heart and weekend fun run coordination) has made me healthier too.
Days before our son was due to start at Hale his teacher told us that their focus was on challenging the advanced students and helping the average students become advanced. Test scores were clearly her priority (mentioned several times in our conversation). She went on to say that those students not at this level (and that didn't have significant special needs) would struggle due to the lack of available resources and intimated that we should consider other options. After 4 days we switched schools and after speaking to many other parents who had similar experiences at Hale I am delighted that we did. I find it truly troubling that a local elementary school has so brazenly decided to prioritize testing and those students most likely to perform well on the tests at the expense of children that need more assistance. If your child does not meet the Hale Lake Wobegon criteria, I would consider alternatives.
I have two children at Hale currently (2nd & 4th grade) and they both love going to school everyday- that says a lot right there, especially because start time is 7:30 a.m.. We have been very pleased with each and every teacher the kids have had. As well, the staff at the on site Mpls Kids is great! My kids are very different as far as their strengths and weaknesses, both academically & socially, and I feel they both have received the right amount of support.
Hale is an average school with the potential to be excellent. They have some excellent teachers and many more who could be excellent. Hale offers excellent activities as does their PTA. The parents are very involved, but tend to look out for and fight for "their own." When the Hale community (teachers, parents, and admin.) realizes the amazing potential of their racially and economically diverse students, they will be able to do great things. A school with this much parent involvement and support should be able to better meet the needs of all students. When the school community learns to believe in everyone, they will be unstoppable. I wish I had realized sooner what all I needed to do to advocate for my diverse child at Hale.
Hale offers many postive after school activities through the community education program and there is a very high level of parent involvement. 3 out of the 6 teachers with whom our children have had, have displayed engagement and commitment to the learning of our children given the large classroom sizes. Further, in our experience, the current principal does not appear know students or their parents. Reported bullying behavior by parents are dismissed by the social worker and administration, and responses to emails and phone calls are not consistent at best.
In regards to field trips, the Kindergartners at Hale usually go on two field trips a year. To the Apple Orchard at beginning of the year and Triangle Park at the end of the year. Very standard for that age group. The 1st- 4th graders go on a number of field trips. Second grade has been on five, two of them performances at the Children's Theatre (what a terrific opportunity!) The academic program at Hale is more advanced then the majority of Minneapolis schools and they offer ALC as well as advanced programs. The student teacher ratio is average for Minneapolis Schools, 26 per classroom- which is the only thing I would change about this school. However, it is a problem all the of Minneapolis schools are facing. The PTA and parent involvement are outstanding, helping to provide a safe, family feel.
I'm not really impressed with Hale School. When I did a walk through I was told the students would go on field trips (zero field trips to date). The student teacher ratio is too high (as with most public schools). The diversity is minimal for a school in the city. The academic program is not impressive, however they meet the standards for No Child Left Behind.