Teachers are burned out. The building is not conducive to learning. The principal is very defensive and unable to create a growth oriented environment. The student make-up has changed with school choice and there are students from bad areas that bring a very poor attitude to the school. VH used to be a good school, but things have changed for the worse.
Felt a sense of community at this school. The principal was very involved and teachers were compassionate. My children wanted to participate in school related events and when I attended school ice cream socials and school carnivals, I begin to appreciate the school. The only thing I wish they could change/improve is the drop-off, pick-up system. Before and after school can be a complete zoo! My children have a diverse group of friends and attending VHE has given them broad cultural knowledge. My sons and I are African American. I appreciated there being a wide range of races and backgrounds at this school. You won't find it at many schools in Madison.
My son was a "difficult" child in a sense. I guess you could say that he didn't fit into the "mold" as some would say. With the help and collaboration with the teachers, volunteers and principal, we developed plans to help him succeed in school. I appreciated it very much! There was constant communication and I felt very good about my child attending Van Hise. I have another child that was older and attended Van Hise and was a "normal" kid. He enjoyed the students and staff. Overall I think that my children had great experiences at Van Hise. I have to disagree with some of the parents on here that spoke negatively about VHE. I really felt a sense of community here and made lifelong friends. My son now attends a different school and misses VHE very much. The principal and several teachers have contacted me to see how my sons were doing and I feel that they genuinely care about my children. We've moved around and I'm from Madison and we've attended several schools in MMSD. I can say that VHE is the best school we've been to.
This school has a great reputation in the area; however, I was extremely disappointed with the low quality of teaching staff, low quality building, unprofessional staff and school bullying that was going unnoticed. Don't let the test scores of the school fool you. This school draws an academically inclined study body of local university professors, medical doctors, and other professionals that have children that are academically inclined. However, if your child has additional learning needs, this school is unable to provide a free and appropriate education. They have a "one size fits all" mentality that does not meet the needs of individual students. If you ask questions of staff or the leadership, they become extremely defensive and are unable to be objective about making changes. The staff personalize any type of feedback and are not able to use feedback as a learning opportunity to grow and change. They retaliate against your child if you disagree with their methods. I did a surprise visit one day and found that there was an extremely hostile environment towards certain kids and the teaching staff were "unaware" of the horrible environment. They did not address bullying nor find a way to keep all kids included. The grounds around the school are beautiful. However, the school is overcrowded. This school needs a complete overall.
We have been a Van Hise family for years and have had a great experience. The teachers are incredible, dedicated people who I feel genuinely care about my children reaching their educational goals as well as their personal well being. The garden is amazing and my kids love learning about what is growing and being a part of the natural world. As a parent, there are so many opportunities to get involved and we have enjoyed that aspect as well. The school PTO is innovative and are very creative in the ways they raise funds for the extras the school needs. Not to mention that their events are so much fun for everyone in the family!