Not all Blue Ribbon Schools are created equal. Hastings has a fun, smart, sophisticated parent community not reflected in the school. Like the NYT article, we moved from one BR in Brooklyn to Hastings BR assuming our child would get the same education. We were very wrong, and it became clear that Hillside got its BR status under different leadership. Administrators draw some of the fattest salaries in NY State yet our experience is that children who need help are routinely denied or underserved and this impacted our child s classroom something we never experienced in Bklyn. We re appalled by the lack of compassion necessary to make that leap of logic: pay admin more for delivering less to the children. Bklyn 3rd graders wrote 5 paragraph essays on endangered animals, 31 kids per class, English a second language for most. Hastings? Not unitl the end of 4th grade, 22 children in class. Had one great teacher and one showed no evidence she knew who our child was by end of first marking period. Bullying abounded under threadbare supervision. Advocate for a child? Our experience is that underhanded consequences ensue which is consistent to those who administer education this way.
The principal,Ms Sullivan is............well.........I should be polite..........yes!....... she dresses nice. Her assistant, Mr Boylan is what you would expect a principal to be. There are some very good teachers in Hillside and some teachers who are not so great but they are good people. Due to budgetary constraints there appears to be a preference for teachers with modest expectations. If you have connections and you can make sure that your child is with one of the better teachers then there should not be a problem.If you do not have connections than expect to work a lot with your child after school. If you want an excellent but competitive school district then go to Ardsley where the parents refuse to accept second best.
Hillside is certainly a 'good' school, and ranks well above the state and national average. I believe the reason for the highly negative reviews is that it is simply not a 'great' school, and many parents who come here with high expectations find themselves disappointed: as a parent of a recent Hillside graduate, I place myself in this group. On the positive side, Hillside's teachers and staff are indeed caring and dedicated. Parents are afforded multiple avenues for involvement. The emphasis on 'whole child' is admirable (though not necessarily unique), and students are generally tolerant and accepting of one another. On the negative side, I agree with some of the earlier critical reviews that cite widely uneven teacher quality and a curriculum that seems to cater to the middle of the bell curve. Some programs, such as Spanish, are poorly implemented and lack oversight. Ultimately, I would urge parents to visit the school and to solicit the opinions of current parents, rather than relying on anonymous reviews. While some of the negative reviews of Hillside seem a bit extreme, a good number of the positive ones seem like a coordinated effort to manipulate Greatschools' rating.
I would encourage anyone considering a move to Hastings to come visit Hillside Elementary and observe for themselves what a special place this is. Once you walk through those doors and see the administrators, teachers and staff in action, you will agree that this is a very warm and nurturing environment where each child is valued for his or her individual gifts and no one gets lost in the shuffle. My child has had a very good experience and I will miss the school very much when s/he moves on to Middle School. Laura Sullivan is incredibly energetic, supportive and entirely focused on the children. Jim Boylan is always out and about, on the playground, in the halls, in the cafeteria, speaking with children, parents and teachers alike. He is a fantastic addition to the school. This is not to say the school is perfect, there are always area for improvement. But I would suggest that parents communicate their concerns to Laura Sullivan and give her the opportunity to respond and react, rather than just post negative reviews on this website.
This school is fantastic! This is Hastings -- students, families, the BOE and community prize this school. At Hillside the teachers and staff, from the principal and assistant principal to the custodians, look out for the children. I was shocked to read the extreme negative comments about the school's leadership, philosophy and curriculum . Not every parent or family will agree with the leadership, philosophy and curriculum at Hillside, or at other elementary schools, but disagreement or unhappiness about a child's or family's experience is no reason to post these sweeping attacks. Discerning readers will bypass these comments and address the Hillside administration and staff directly with their concerns, whether their kids are at Hillside or they are considering Hillside. Our family looks forward to more years at Hillside!
Hillside Elementary is a great school. The principal Laura Sullivan has been incredibly supportive, encouraging and open minded. She is always thinking about what is best for the children in her school and how to continually provide a wonderful learning environment. There are many opportunities for parents to get involved - nature walks, publishing center, class parents, math bee etc if you want to do more than just help out with pizza Friday. I see parents at school all the time engaging in some manner with the school and children. My children have loved field day, the projects with the architect and much more.
I am a teacher at Hillside Elementary School and have been there for 13 years. The Principal, Laura Sullivan, is very caring and dedicated. She was a special education teacher before training to be a Principal. Her knowledge and sensitivity about special needs has made our school a very inclusive place. When there is a problem, she personally meets with parents and encourages teachers to communicate with parents. I have no idea what these writers are talking about who say there is a lack of parent involvement. Parents are involved every day, as escorts, readers, volunteers, and can be involved in book fairs, parents as reading partners, before school math programs, after school mentoring, on committees and other ways. We are always striving to improve and my fellow teachers are very dedicated. The chorus wins awards each year, participation in an elective science fair was extensive, and technology is embraced. I hope that new parents considering sending their children to Hillside will decide for themselves and not be swayed by a few disgruntled individuals.
I am a teacher at Hillside Elementary School and am surrounded by wonderful teachers and a very dedicated principal. It upsets me tremendously to see some of these cruel and false comments about the principal and fellow teachers when I know that our school is such a special place. Do you have any idea how many fantastic things that are going on at Hillside? I do. I am lucky enough to be in a school where art is valued, music is valued, nature is valued, and community is valued. Teachers and administrators arrive early and stay late. I am lucky to have a principal who supports our initiatives and pilot programs. Our principal works endless hours preparing new curriculum. No matter how busy she gets, she always finds the time to provide support/guidance to the teachers and to the students. We are fortunate to have her at the helm.
We moved to the area specifically for the schools and are now looking at private school options. Here's the truth about Hillside... It's great if your child is average. The school, staff, curriculum, "specials", field trips, everything caters towards average children. There is no room for exceptional as the administration and the structure of the school can't support a gifted program. Don't get me wrong. There are lovely staff members who mean well and work very hard. However, my child will be in elementary school only once and needs an environment that nurtures the mind much more than Hillside can offer. Sadly, this school makes me worry for the public school system, and the institutional complacency for catering towards the average.
Had two graduate from Hillside and three kids in this system. Hillside falls way short of expectations.Current principal is a huge disappointment and received tenure from the same small clique of people that post all these positive comments below. Unfortunately she's here to stay and if you're looking at these school, watch her in action. Yikes. The art teacher, also tenured and head of the teacher's union, has a kiln that sits unused, never sends home art work or any kind: lazy. The music program used to be good. No longer. Many staff forced out to hire younger, less experienced+less expensive staff. Math programs constantly changing. No Science to speak of at all at Hillside. Writing, reading a big disappointment. Language, a joke. My daughter had a Spanish teacher for six months who....couldn't speak Spanish!! This reads like comedy, but its not. It's an expensive disappointment. No field trips! Gym class isn't even that good. Uninspiring, blah education. Better off moving to Scarsdale, Ardsley, Rye, Briarcliff or even Dobbs where teacher quality is higher. PArent involvement is very minimal, confined to handing out pizza on Fridays & FUNDRAISING! UGH. Not a good investment.
Hillside is a warm and nurturing environment. The class sizes are kept small, the teachers get to know the kids well. The school successfully prizes individualized instruction (I think its called "differentiated"). There are many creative programs. The community is filled with creative talents who donate their energies to the school, making it a very enriched environment for youngsters.
Hillside Elementary is a fabulous place to send your children! The curriculum has some very special traditions that make the school unique, and is also on top of current trends and ready to make changes aligned with the new NYS standards. The administration is incredibly responsive to parents - every parent who has dealt with the Vice Principal on any discipline/behavior type stuff has come away with glowing reports of how helpful and warm he was. Overall, the teachers are beloved by parents and children, and are attuned to every child's individual development. Its a great place to be.
Hillside Elementary school has been very disappointing on so many levels. My 3 children have passed through Hillside, and I have had the opportunity to watch it slowly deteriorate. There is no consistent writing program across any grade level. They are not teaching to the Common Core Standards in either ELA or Mathematics. There is hardly any science taught unless it's review sheets before the state test in grade 4. A child's progress in any given grade is largely based on which teacher he/sher gets for the year. It makes me very sad. I've had conversations with the administration over the last 5-6 years, but nothing changes. The Blue Ribbon status they earned 15-20 years ago should be taken away or, at the very least, reevaluated :(
Hillside is a frustrating mix of good and bad, trending in the wrong direction under the current principal. Having put two children through Hillside, I can only echo several concerns raised by other reviewers: -Teacher quality There are some truly excellent teachers at Hillside. It is also fair to accept that not every teacher at a given school is going to be extraordinary. Unfortunately, there are simply too many average and below average teachers for a school with the resources Hillside has at its disposal (financial resources as well as the community's commitment to excellence in education). Hillside's principal seems to lack the skills necessary to 1) attract the best teachers and 2) support their career-long development. -Curriculum Hillside's curriculum is unimaginatively programmed and seem one or two steps behind what could be considered state of the art. Some of the excellent teachers have created their own, innovative approaches, but at the school-wide level, the curriculum lags neighboring schools of similar size. Smart Boards, in which the administration has invested heavily, are not the answer: many teachers with these devices have not been trained how to use them.
My experience has been totally different from the two previous reviewers. I have had two children go through Hillside and I thought the faculty did a very good job of educating them. Does that mean that every teacher was the best ever? No, but some of them were exceptional and all of them were good. As far as communication goes, what the last reviewer describes as "time to kiss up" I would call taking an active roll in you child's education. Forging relationships with the teachers and administrators, when you have an issue there is someone you can turn to who knows you. I really think it the entire small town suburban experience comes down to what you put into it. If you donate your time and energy into making the town, school, league, organization, etc., better you have more of a vested interest in seeing it do well. That sounds preachy but it's the truth. The bottom line is the schools are very good and they could always be better. But the real question is are you going to help make them better?
Before enrolling please visit the school and ask questions. The principal of Hillside had no former administration experience. She is unable to answer any questions without consulting others first. She honestly has no idea what she is doing. I would strongly suggest private school in this district until 5th grade or at least until the current principal leaves. There is a lack of teacher quality. The teachers definately have favorites. Other reviwers mention blue ribbon award. When was the last year the district won a Blue Ribbon Award? Hastings High School in 2001. It is now 2012.
Hillside is a terrific school filled with a staff that truly cares. Our systems' blue ribbon ratings are well deserved. A great place to grow and learn. Some parents succumb to the temptation to be aggressive with the staff insisting that any average achievement is the staff's' failure. The village has many after school activities not connected to the school. The tea party wants staff cuts to lower taxes. Last budget they were outvoted 2.5 to 1. - that;s a new tension.
Hillside is wonderful! The staff balances social/emotional learning with academics. The teachers and principal are responsive. We have two very different children and they were both well-served at Hillside. We are happy we moved here from Brooklyn.
In response to the post 11/2/10, the test scores for all the Rivertowns schools fell this year due to an increase in standards. In fact, according to the Enterprise, the local paper for the area, Hastings students scored dropped less than Ardsley's, Dobbs Ferry's or Irvington's. Every year, according to Westchester magazine Hastings students score higher on their SATs than all other river towns. I could care less about scores but if you do there you go.......
Click on the test scores and stats tab above. On the NY state standardized tests the school fell 20% from 2009 to 2010 in just about every area - I think one area decreased around 10%. That is pretty pathetic, and I think scores in Farragut Middle School in Hastings fell about the same. Pretty pathetic.
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