This is a safe place to share your honest opinions of a school, whether good or bad.
Hillside Elementary School1
Posted October 24, 2014
- a parent
The new administrator Mr. Johnson lacks experience and never should of been hired . He speaks down to parents and is very rude. This is school district in Westchester not the doe. I am sure the were far better qualified candidates.
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.