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Harmony Science Academy - Austin5
Posted September 11, 2013
- a parent
My children have attended this school for the two+ years we have lived in Austin, having attended HSE in Houston prior, and I've found this school to be excellent. It is an exemplary school and the standard is high, and my children are doing very well here. The teachers truly care and give extra effort to making sure all students are successful. THIS is what I look for in a school!!!
I also taught at Harmony School of Excellence. I've taught for 15 years, but have never seen a school mismanaged to this extent. There is a huge riff between the American and Turkish Teachers. The Turks are here on a "High Need Visa." Harmony Schools has more of these Visa's than the technology industry combined. Most of the Turkish teachers can't speak much English, but they can teach the kids? I was harassed and yelled at constantly by the principal. If your Musilm, your safe. If not, run in the other direction. This school is funneling money back into Turkey. There are NO supplies for the kids with classrooms being tiny and packed with kids. Kids are charged to get their cell phones back, Saturday detentions/tutorials are mandatory for many. This Saturday School is just another way for the Turkish teachers to be paid $25 hr. for sitting. Google Harmony Schools, read the New York Times article from Summer 2012, its only the tip of the iceberg.
Being a former employee, I have somewhat of a unique perspective. The majority of the staff is some of the most hard working individuals I have had the pleasure of working with. Then there are the Turkish members of the staff, most of which I am sure have never taken a teaching course or have never held anything close to a teaching position prior to working at Harmony. Numerous times I saw competent American teachers get passed over for positions so they could justify bringing another Turk over on a work Visa. The students do work hard and were a great group of kids. They perform well on the state tests, but I believe that is a direct result of the extra hours of instruction that are assigned only to the American teachers and the numerous extra hours that they put in. It is sad & frustrating that there are only 2 qualifications to meet in order to advance as faculty. One is to be male, the second is to be Turkish. Unfortunately, I did not meet the second qualification, so I spent all of my years working under Turkish first year teachers who were somehow made department chair. Sending your kids here will get good state test results, but don't be surprised by high faculty turnover.
The level of communications out of this school is substandard. Lodging a complaint against the school staff is useless because of the high degree is nepotism at this school. We get notice of a Saturday event less than 18 hours before the (mandatory) takes place. Further, I am beginning to have doubts that a certain science teacher is qualified to teach since she is so poor at speaking clear English.
We pulled our daughter out of the Del Valle ISD. Harmony is a far better school than Del Valle; Bastrop schools are worse than Del Valle so I understand the comments of one of the other parents. While I like the curriculum we don't like the lack of physical education, the actions like "no Halloween" due to safety concerns, and we have witnessed but not experienced the awkward discipline. The parents and families of a lot of the students are rough. We stopped participating in any extracurricular activities due to the lack of involvement by other parents and when they do participate we watch our belongings very closely.
The teachers focus on learning. The program is about the basics with no fluff. While there are certainly some issues with SOME teachers language skills, those aren't the ones teaching English. They are teaching science and other subjects. And they DO know their stuff. And the teachers here LOVE what they do. We pulled our son from Bastrop last year. Now been at Harmony for two years. We have seen a vast improvement in the education received at Harmony. No more wasted time on social games and drama that you get at Bastrop. Discipline? Yeah. They come down hard. But I like that. If your kid can't fathom getting through school without texting his friends in class then this is NOT the school for you child. He will be kicked out before the year is up. If you want your kid to learn, then Harmony is for you. Thanks, Harmony.
My son has only been in this school for two weeks. This school is unfair when it comes to making decisions on discipline. My son and I had a conference with the Dean of Discipline and he brought up an issue that a group of girls wrote a complaint aganist my son. He presented us with the documents the girls had written but he never asked my son to write his side of the story down before going to the committee. I told him there are always two side a story. When you going to discipline someone you need to hear what all involved parties have to say not just what one has to say before making decisions. During the conference I got the feeling the Dean doesnt want my son at his school so I ask him and he replied I dont want him here. Im headed to the attorneys.
We will be pulling our daughter out of this school and we are sending her back to her Round Rock ISD school, which was good. They have been completely disorganized from day one. My daughter has been there almost a week and has still not received her class schedule, or a locker that works. The teachers seem nice enough but have no idea what the administration is doing. They have done nothing all week but tell the kids about rules and discipline. We received the syllabus for classes we are still not sure when she has because it changes every day... and most of it has so many miss spellings and incorrect grammar it is amazing that they are teaching my child. It must be that English is their second language. And don't be fooled that this school is free... it isn't... they nickle and dime you to death!
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