This is a safe place to share your honest opinions of a school, whether good or bad.
Herndon Elementary School1
Posted November 05, 2014
- a parent
This is such a sad school. Everything about it is sad and depressing. The teachers have pretty much given up and the kids are basically in day care. No real learning or education is happening at HES anymore and it shows. The test scores continue to drop ( it's one of the WORST schools in the whole state) and the teachers are either unable to effect change or are cowed by administration. Each year it's like watching rats flee a ship as parents pull their kids or move to get out of HES. Even the PTA has given up and aren't doing fund raisers or events anymore. The Spanish immersion has been a disaster. Native speaking parents have pulled their kids out and English speaking parents have dropped out after realizing the curriculum is 2 grades behind. They really messed up this school. Too bad. It's a great town with great people. It used to be a GREAT school but the current administration can't overcome the problems.
First, let me say that I've been told that this school is one of Fairfax County's failing schools in math and science. While I've heard numerous "excuses" (mostly blaming the large number of non-native English speaking students at the school) in my opinion the school is making these kids scapegoats. Our child's regular teacher during the 2013/2014 year was outstanding, but the "new" French teacher was abysmal. The principal and school district hired a 22-year old with NO TEACHING DEGREE OR TEACHING EXPERIENCE AND A DEGREE IN DRAMA to teach math and science in French to children. Apparently, the ONLY skills that qualified this teacher to teach was that she herself had gone through the French program at Herndon Elementary and she had taken a few French classes in college. Let me repeat, the principal and school district hired a 22-year old with no math degree, no science degree, no French degree, no teaching degree, and no experience with children whatsoever, as a full-time teacher to teach math and science in French to the kids. I've rapidly lost respect for this school and am seriously thinking about pulling my child from it.
Herndon Elementary has been an exciting and well rounded school for our children! In our experience the school staff has been caring, supportive, and responsive to our children's needs. The school offers a fantastic language program as well as an accelerated math opportunity for students. The extra curricular academic and arts programs are second to none! Above all, we have always felt secure that our children were happy and safe and receiving a great education!
We loved our child's First Grade teacher, but that was three years ago, and the past two years were a nightmare for us at this school. We finally moved our son, and he's doing much better. If you don't know what an "Open Classroom" is, LEARN before you enroll your child. The breaking point, for me, was the day I came to deliver cupcakes for my son's birthday. Coats were piled on the floor (though there were hooks), kids were milling about the room, and a student was sitting at the teacher's desk, on her computer, and she was admonishing him to please leave it alone, but ultimately, he sat there and kept at it. I was so angry, I jerked both my kids from this school. People who have "nothing but praise" for Herndon, have apparently never shown up to the school during working hours.
Our daughter is in 1st grade at HES and loves waking up and going to school every morning. Her kindergarten and 1st grade teachers have been nothing short of amazing! Obviously the teachers make all the difference in the experience, and we have been lucky thus far! For those that think that the school could be improved, I urge you to get involved and be a voice and advocate for your child!
Love Herndon Elementary!! As you can see from the posts below, some parents were upset last year because the school system (not the principal) switched HES from French Immersion to Two-Way Spanish Immersion. I for one think that the current principal is highly qualified and handled a difficult transition with class and grace and has made tremendous improvements to the school. The school itself parallels the Town of Herndon - a hometown feel in a big city. Herndon is the kind of place where everyone knows your name and looks out for one another. The neighborhood bond is strong, as is the school community. When you walk through the halls of HES you are smiled at and greeted. Even though HES is a large school, due to a dedicated and caring staff, it feels small and cozy.
The school has great diversity and some great teachers but we are experiencing a downhill slide to the overall performance. Students are not challenged, teachers are dissatisfied, and communication between school administration/teachers and parents is atrocious. This has been attributed by many to the current principal, who simply lacks the capacity, ingenuity, and communication skills to make things work better. It's her first job as principal and she may not have what it takes. The general feeling is that she is trying to serve to the lowest common denominator - an SOL focused approach. This school needs change NOW!! A majority of parents I speak with are very concerned about the school's performance.Hopefully the PTA can perform its function of facilitating that change before the problems become too big for quick fixes.
The school's problems can't be blamed on demographics. As others have said, few efforts are made to challenge kids at any grade level, and that was the case long before the rapid shift in demographics a few years ago. The unspoken message seems to be that kids sitting at their desks being quiet and doing rote tasks is what's valued. In six years at the school, I believe our child was assigned one project which required any level of creativity or independent initiative. The ongoing transition of the language immersion program from French to Spanish -- which is absolutely the right thing to do given the shifting demographics -- has been poorly handled by the administration, as was a serious personnel issue. There are a number of excellent teachers at the school, but the level of expectations and overall climate leave a lot of room for improvement.
Communication from School to the parents is very poor. Leadership at this school is very poor. A few teachers are great but most of the teachers my children had were mediocre. The school administration is only focussed on bringing up test scores. They tend to not teach a subject unless there is a Virginia Standard of Learning Test on the topic. Overall, the School only teachesthe minimum for the students to pass tests. The administration does not advocate challenging students and driving for higher standards. There is a good core group of parents that volunteers at everything, but the majority of parents are uninvolved with the school.