Wednesday, May 12, 2010

Hot topic: Hillwood Academic Day

This from a reader:
Can anyone share information / experience(s) regarding Hillwood Academic Day (located at Scott & Broadway)?

11 comments:

  1. I toured the school years ago. It is very small and has combined classes (one K/1, one 2/3, one 4/5, etc.). The teaching seemed very rigorous. They follow a method developed by the current director's mother. There's an afterschool program and some athletics mixed in, as there's a playground nearby. It is probably missing the "bells and whistles" of bigger schools, but I actually thought they were doing a lot of varied stuff with the kids. I thought it would work well for kids who are smart, but who need small class settings and solid structure to thrive. And it would work for families with tight budgets. Kind of a less-athletically-inclined, non-Catholic version of a parochial parish school. My son unfortunately did not fit the profile so we moved on.

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  2. Although I have no personal experience with the school, my son's best friend attended 2nd grade there for a half year...and then was asked to leave after one semester when they discovered the child had mild dyslexia. Apparently fewer than half of the incoming students actually graduate, which the mother of my son's friend thought might skew the apparent high achievement of the remaining students.

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  3. I'd be surprised if such a tiny school would have the capacity to handle even the mildest of learning differences. Since it's a for-profit school and people don't seem to be exactly stampeding to get in, you'd think they would have kept the student if they felt they could have met his needs. Maybe it's to their credit that they were honest about it?

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  4. Sounds like a pretty pathetic school -- hard to imagine people paying for that.

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  5. We toured, but did not apply, because we felt the energy was more dynamic at the Catholic schools we toured. That said, if you do not want to send your child to a Catholic school, your finances are a little tight, AND you want a small school, this could be a good fit. I suspect it may have trouble drawing as many students today because so many publics are a viable option today.

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  6. We toured Hillwood last year and loved it. It is a tiny school with high academics and a child can get a lot of personal attention there. All the children we saw were charming and very sweet (one particular 1st grade boy would break into a huge grin whenever our eyes met).

    We loved that everything, including the after-school program and daily lunch and snacks, were included in the price of tuition. Tuition was a bargain (I believe $700/month if my memory serves me correctly). I wondered how they could keep costs so low.

    The director was very hands-on and enthusiastic.

    The downsides are that the playground is miniscule (the kids didn't seem to mind; we observed very active recesses), the teaching curriculum seemed very old fashioned, and the textbooks were outdated. No computers here! Hillwood curriculum reminded me of the education I received at a public school in the 1970s. There was very little enrichment offered with the exception of an hour of Spanish and art weekly. There was no gardening, field trips, or PE.

    Our 4 year old son attended an assessment day, i.e. he attended a full day of school at Hillwood to see if the school was the right fit for him and vice versa. He loved it! He talked about Hillwood for several months after that visit. I was really impressed with the k/1 teacher.

    We put a deposit down to hold a place after going 0/7 in the SFUSD public school lottery. We intended to keep our son at Hillwood for just a couple years before transferring him to a public school. I think most parents there do the same, as the class sizes get smaller as the grade gets higher from what I think is probably natural attrition. We worried that the tiny k-8 school would not provide enough diversity or challenge our son enough socially as he got older.

    In the end, we eventually got offered a kindergarten spot at our waitpool school during the first week of school so we gave up our spot at Hillwood.

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  7. This sounds terrible! Who would find that appealing and worth paying for?

    "... the teaching curriculum seemed very old fashioned, and the textbooks were outdated. No computers here! ... There was very little enrichment ... There was no gardening, field trips, or PE."

    People are baffling.

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  8. 9:56 am -- I think it all depends on your perspective and your situation. I am someone who lives on a tight budget but who is very opposed to having my kid in Catholic school. If I were 0/15 at this point in the process and lived in a place where Hillwood was not out of my commute, I'd be seriously considering looking at it. As someone who toured Hillwood and thought it made sense for smart kids who need small class size structure, one year there would not be such a bad thing given the alternative of not knowing where my kid is going to start in mid-August.

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  9. "This sounds terrible! Who would find that appealing and worth paying for?"

    Parents who want a good, solid education for their kids and can provide the "bells & whistles" outside school hours. The director even acknowledged that parents should fill in the gaps on their own and enroll their child in extracurricular activities. The school focuses strictly on academics.

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  10. I used to work at the public library nearest this school. The kids were bright, engaged, and enthusiastic about learning. The school actively used the library during their summer program and I was always very impressed. I would go there at the end of the school year to talk about the library's summer program and the school is in a charming, ramshackle victorian where I kind of expected to meet Miss Jean Brodie at the first turning of the second stair.

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  11. I attended Hillwood in the 1950's. LOVED it. Perfect for a child with two working parents and no siblings. I learned to inner act with other students so I became well socialized with my peers. At that time, our French instructor was also the chef. At our luncheon meal of delicious food, we could only speak French. We all became fluent. It was only a serious illness and hospital/home confinement that ended my stay.As for not being able to handle students with disabilities, I had a weak left hand and was shy about it. They helped me overcome that and today, I can stand on a stage, and speak without the audience ever being aware of it. I credit Hillwood. Diane Nichols mynicholsworth@aol.com

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