I have had one child go through Little River and one still there. I am very lucky that they have been able to call Little River their home. The teachers, the staff, and the current administration are a well-oiled machine to make the school top notch!
LR is an amazing school!. I'm the mother of 2 children. My oldest started kindergarten in 2006 (Mrs. Hardcastle's first year at LR) and spent all 6 years there before heading to middle school last fall. My youngest is in 4th grade. I also spent a decade teaching elementary school in Fairfax County. The majority of my children's teachers have been kind, enthusiastic, knowledgeable and dedicated. Did some teachers leave after Mrs. Hardcastle arrived? Yes, but that is always the case when there is a transition in administration. However, 7 years later, MANY great teachers remain. Have we ever had a bad teacher? Yes, but those are present in EVERY school (and nearly impossible to fire) and Mrs. Hardcastle is very concerned about the happiness and success of each student and works with parents to resolve problems. My experience with her regarding my own children has been only positive. I disagree that the children are bored. Loudoun County has a wonderful gifted program and mine have been challenged in the classroom daily. On any given day, you will see many parent volunteers. The specialists (especially the counselors, art, music and PE teachers) are absolutely fantastic!
Hardcastle has ruined this school. The teachers are forced only to instruct to the VA SOLs and the children are completely bored. There is no energy in the classrooms as there used to be under the previous principals prior to the Fall of 2006 (when the current principal arrived). Now Loudoun County has started a new 4 point grading system and, of course, Hardcastle has no idea how to properly implement it. There is no consistency between teachers with grading and the leader of the school has not provided proper guidance to them. Many teachers at the school do not like the principal and so many good teachers that were hired under the previous principals, Reedy, left to teach at other schools after becoming frustrated with Hardcastle's style. Further, she does not encourage parent involvement in their children's educational decisions and makes parents feel unwelcome when they offer suggestions. Finally, there are way too many under utilized "Specials" teachers at this school that could be better served at schools where their services are really needed.
Little River was a wonderful school with very high SOL scores and teachers under the previous principals but that has all changed the last several years. The current principal is simply horrible. She will not listen to parents' suggestions or concerns and there literally is no leadership at the school. Under the previous administration, the teachers were phenomenal and there was great energy in the school. Since this principal took over in 2006, all the good teachers have literally left the school (with the exception of a handful) and Hardcastle has hired mediocre teachers. Due to her lack of leadership, the teachers are allowed to do whatever they please and this has lowered the overall quality of the entire education at Little River. For example, she insists on using math investigations in her classrooms to compensate for lower state test scores and anyone who's done research on this teaching method knows it is subpar. It's really sad to see such a great school turn into such a fiasco. If a good education is important to you, don't send your children to this school. Many of our friends have sent their children to private schools instead.
We have two children in this school and we are pleased with the quality of the teachers and the education. Our oldest child is sufficiently challenged by new concepts and our youngest child received additional help when we feared he was falling behind. The teachers have different styles and personalities that are recognized by the administrators and addressed in a meaningful way. For example, our youngest child was placed with a teacher that the administrators, previous year's teacher, and counselors felt would work best with his quirks. I'm impressed.
It's a great school with a great staff who truly cares about the children. The children are in a loving environment all day long, and they are encouraged to learn in a way that makes it fun. The parents involvement at this school is great, many parents volunteer at the school and contribute to their kids success. We love our school!!!