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.