This is second year that my child has been at Hearst. Many people, parents and teachers have described our entry time as one of the best as so many new and positive things are happening on campus. The obvious item is the brand new addition that includes new class rooms, a new library, new gym, new music room, new cafeteria, and more. Besides the new physical environment I've found the principal and the teachers of my child to be welcoming to my engagement in my child's scholastic life. On another front, the parent community at Hearst are involved in making positive things happen. From after-school programs, to the PTA, to basketball games, and choral events, our family has participated in many Hearst events. We look forward to having our child continue her education at Hearst for many years and to our being more involved with the parent activities. Yes, I do recommend Hearst.
I have been told by my daughter that during lunch the kids are not allowed to talk - they call it "the silence punishment" - to what kind of civilized society Hearts is preparing our kids - where having a conversation during lunch time is not permitted ?
Our two dogs do not converse during their lunch - our kids however - should congregate around their meal and share their thoughts and their laughs.
This is a basic human value that we can just assume we do not share with the principal of the school.
Clearly, the long response from a "parent" about their children "thriving" at a school with only three weeks into the school year is awkward. Only parents who value a mediocre public education would possibly stand on that premise about "their children thriving". To my calculation, school began 3 weeks ago, report cards have not been issued nor has standardized testing been discussed or administered, yet your children are "thriving". Unless you want your child to be socially accepted among their peers (classmates), you are either a new parent or possibly a staff member posting as a "parent". We (parents) complain and praise, rather than sound like a defensive, yet long school response.
However, it hasn't been a month, since DCPS schools have started and there are concerns that have already occurred at Hearst. First, a teacher communicated to the parents that they resigned and then retracted their statement. What is the state of mind of the teacher and the leadership who allows this? Parents are concerned. What about Sept. 15th, while driving by the school, there were several WDC police cars (counted 4) and a ambulance entering the school (near 4pm or later). Now, should I really be concern about my child's safety? One too many valid red flags are enough when it involves our children; and conspicuous actions are better than words or chats. What school administration allows such activities without addressing the entire parent body? Or is Hearst accustomed to covering issues, that are not being addressed? Is this a DCPS standard?
A concern parent wanting to see the start of effective leadership, a healthy environment and positive influences. With enough being said, a parent's action is never "distracting" when it's warranted and I'm sure that more parents are concern, who appear to be a great and welcoming part of the school.
Veteran leaders are prepared and skilled at handling adverse situations and communicating effectively, not a rookie who can't ask for direction/help or who isolates issues that possibly effects the entire school environment. Does Hearst need a community meeting with the superintendent or the chancellor? An Assistant Principal to deal with the non-academic issues? Or possibly new leadership?
I want to respond to the post from late August 2015:
I’m sorry to hear about your experience so far; mine has been very different. My children have been thriving at the school and I have found it to be a welcoming place, both in terms of staff and other families. I also am a bit hesitant to get into a back and forth on an anonymous discussion board but felt the need to chime in, especially for others who may be reading about the school on this forum.
First, I would highly encourage you to contact your child(ren)’s teacher(s) and Principal Thomas with your concerns. I have found the staff to be very responsive to emails, conversations, etc. (including about concerns such as this), and, most importantly, as I noted, my children are thriving at the school: happy and learning a lot. Please try to give the school a chance and look beyond a few problems you may have encountered at the beginning.
Second, in part to clarify for people reading this board who are not yet at the school, there actually have been a number of opportunities to see the building and meet the teachers. There was a “community day” the Saturday before school started, Back to School nights the 2nd week of school, the pre-K teachers had a meeting for new parents and made times for the kids to come in and see the classroom before they officially started, many families have had home visits with their kids’ teachers, and Principal Thomas has parent chats twice a week during the first 6 weeks of school. I have been in the school many times since the year has started.
I also think it’s important to think about the rationale behind the rule about parents not walking their kids in to the building at the start of the school day. Many schools have that policy, and it is designed to help the kids start off their day without distractions. Even having 1-2 parents coming in and hanging out in the classroom will
delay the students’ getting their routine going.
One final clarification is that the post from January 2014 was actually related to the previous Principal; Principal Thomas started in July 2015.
Great small school--teachers and a principal that really care, a caring environment where kids learn to be citizens of the world. We have been thrilled with our experience at the school and encourage others to check it out!
I find it hypocritical, as I read the 01/24/14 review by the principal, "I feel compelled to respond and invite anyone to drop by on any day and visit our great school."
As a new family to Hearst ES, I was thrilled and happy for my child to start their local community school. Although, the construction can be an eyesore, the new addition and playground is great, which has been an incentive for my child to start a new school. Yes, we were excited, yet we didn't have a chance to enter the school building. Because during the summer in July (initial visit and a few phone calls), the principal and registration person were both on vacation and the person manning the main office (if someone was there) could not properly answer our questions or help with the enrollment documents. Is competent staffing an issue here? However, during the morning address (first day of school), the principal informed the parents not to enter the building. I was appalled, disappointed and upset that the leadership (principal) would communicate a standard. Or is this a school policy? Is Hearst a welcoming school? Does the principal (and staff) understand the sensitivity (or need training) and emotional connection of a new family wanting to walk their young child to their new classroom or meet the teacher on the first day of school? I'm disgusted. Hearst is a public school and we pay her salary (via taxes) and of the staff, who stood outside the main entry enforcing this. I began my due diligence, and "The State Board of Education of DC does not have a written policy" on such a thing; therefore it's left up to the Chancellor to set a policy, which happens to be a discretionary action if safety is a concern. Not just a random procedure to employ by Principal Jennifer Thomas to control the school and families. What an unwelcoming environment on the first day and throughout the weekday mornings.
I'm beginning to reconsider Hearst ES and question if the leadership will create tactics to abuse power. Is this the right school for my family and did I make the right choice. What a first day and week :-(.
I have been teaching for 15 years. I am new to the area and a new staff member at Herast. I haven't started working there yet. Every time I tell any of my teacher friends, I am working at Herast next year, I hear responses like "You lucked out" and that's a great school. As soon as I entered the school for the interview,I knew that there is a lot of teaching and learning going on in this school. Students were engaged and seemed happy. The hiring process was very professional and transparent. The principal was very professional and I felt like she sincerely cares about the children. at the same time very sweet and approachable by students, the community and staff members. Hearst is the best little school in the district. Period.
The teachers are dedicated and provide my child with a quality education. The new principal at Hearst is terrible. She is turning our school into a business being run by data and numbers. I may be wrong, but the teachers this year seem unhappy with her. They have chosen to take away parent teacher conference day to teach group lessons to the parents. I want to discuss my child's individual progress. The teachers are not given a choice and this group lesson is mandatory.