From the outside, this school appears to have a healthy learning enviroment. I was looking forward to sending my son here, because of the individual attention, wide course selection, and "diverse" community the school supposedly has to offer. Unfortunately, the school isn't all it appears to be. Although the course offerings are rigorous as we expected, the school social environment is extremely rough, with pressure to be smart, macho, and athletic. The students are really judgmental about grades and socioeconomic status, and the "diverse" environment is even somewhat racist. The administration is in denial.
Be careful of sending your child here unless you really feel they will "fit in the box". Horace Mann does not want to work with families if their child does not conform to their high expectations, and in the early years sends tons of kids for therapy, psychologists, and services so they can get up to snuff. Children are pushed to be ahead academically and little focus on the social emotional well being of the children.
First of all, you don't have to be super smart to go here; I think the intelligence factor is mythologized by parents who are willing to tutor their kids in every subject until they bring home the A's. My child attended the high school and had some teachers who were decent and others who were downright weird. Overall we found it to be a rather impersonal place fraught with internal politics.
My son attends Middle School. It is true that this is a mini-college school. He s learning Mandarin, studying Latin, Honors Math...and lots of classes he selected. It is not an easy school at all and it is not all about the wonderful teachers but the students. We can visit all classes once a year and a good filter to feel you don t belong to it are the students. They are SO smart! If someone is complaining is just because they don t belong to HM... very few do. It s a place where being a nerd is cool so it s not a place for everyone. I feel very proud my kids excel at HM... parents are very involved with activities but don t interfere with their kids academics. If your kid needs a tutor to pass his classes this is not the school...just for the really smart & committed.
I have had to opportunity to view the school as an alum and as a parent. Horace Mann is one of the best high schools in the country. It possesses the facilities of a college and offers the course selection of one as well. With an average class size of 14-15 there is plenty of opportunity for close teacher/student interaction and it is easy for a student to get extra help from a teacher. The administration is very accomdating if a student has an issue or an illness. The faculty is first rate. With average home work of 2-3 hrs a night, the acedmics are challenging and the school can be a real pressure cooker. There is also an early awareness of the college process even as early as 9th grade.
This high school is like a mini-college. All of the students end up at top universities, and love their experience at HM. Not to mention that the student body at HM is amazingly talented, intelligent, ambitious, and driven. There are tons of facilities- a pool, 2 gyms, fitness room, several computer labs, 2-floor library, 2 theaters, and a big cafeteria. Every classroom is equipped with a computer, projector, and some have smart boards. Tons of the teachers have PhDs, and all of them are really great. They are extremely helpful and actually want their students to succeed. I love this school, and I'll never forget all that I've learned from here.
This is a most engaging school with teachers and administrators who are really interested in the kids and their well-being, not just the school's cumulative glory. The children are engaged and excited to learn. The opportunities for them are numerous and exceptional. They foster simple values such as kindness and respect in a practical way. It's not just lip service.
My kids go to the middle school in 09/10. The Middle school teachers seem very mediocre and unimpressive. They are supposed to use the moodle which is a hi tech academic curriculum and syllabus system designed to help the self motivated. But not one teacher has this working correctly, on-time or with quality content. Too many teachers are uninvolved, uninspiring, and frankly overrated. Some of them are downright bad. I did hear that the high school has better teachers. I wish the school would institute a reverse performance review-by the students and parents of their teachers.