A little bit of background is necessary for this review. Garland ISD has choice of schools, where you can request to go to any of their regular schools. Then there are the magnet schools, where you must test to get in. Hillside Academy is a magnet school for GT kids.
I have two children currently enrolled at Hillside. We have stayed in the school district because the education they are receiving is very good, and the students surrounding them are smart and motivated. I do recognize that other school districts may spend more on their students, have more funds and resources, and newer facilities. It has been a temptation to move. But what those schools don't have is classes packed with GT students. Other districts might have a GT program at their school, but it is a meet once a week for an hour. I've heard complaints from parents in these districts that their kids are bored and unchallenged. So we've stayed here. I appreciate GISD for trying new things, like GT schools, technology schools, foreign language and Montessori. If you can get your child into the GT programs, I highly recommend it.
My son finished kindergarten, and he was excited about going to school everyday. His reading level jumped higher than we ever expected by the end of the year. Parents are very involved, which is wonderful to see. Most of the teachers seem to be extremely caring. I hope that the change in teachers work out well this school year. So far, so good! Keep up the great work, Eagles!
My children attended Hillside and we had a great experience. There have been turnarounds in the math department, but it does seem to be stable now. Math is taught at an accelerated level at all of the academies. Several methods are used to teach concepts, so that every child has a chance to learn how they learn best. My child is now at Austin and doing very well in math, thanks to Hillside.
We have been disappointed in many aspects of the GT program at this school. While the ELA seems to be higher academically than a regular elementary school, the math program falls very short. The GT kids are not being challenged to their fullest potential through innovative, critical thinking activities. Instead, many of the concept practices are standard 'old school' methods of teaching. There does not seem to be a push to use teaching methods conducive to the type of learning the kids today need to be mastering. We have witnessed a lack of flexibility and desire to try new ideas. There doesn't seem to be a willingness on the part of some of the staff (teaching and admin.) to work with parents to try to find the best learning experience for the children.
I am the mother of twins completing their kindergarten year in the gifted and talented program. I am so impressed with the warmth and knowledge they have absorbed during this school year. Teachers can define how children feel about school forever. Mrs Hickman and staff have done a remarkable job!
Hillside is a great school, especially for gifted students. The regular students also benefit from the enriched curriculum and dedicated teachers. The students are involved in many creative projects and challenging assignments. All students have art, music, computer, and PE taught during the school day. Talented students can take enriched music and art. Fourth and Fifth graders can take Strings. They offer a variety of extended day classes two days a week including Piano. There is a very strong PTA and lots of parent involvement. My children have enjoyed friends from all races and cultures. There is a real feeling of family at this school. Last year, a student was killed by a car while riding his bike. The outpouring of support for this family was overwhelming. Our principal helped the Spanish speaking family with all of the forms and arrangements.