Ridge Hill School
March 2013. My daughter is in Kindergarten at Ridge Hill and so far we are extremely pleased with the school, teachers, administrators, and other parents/kids.
I had toured it last year at the same time that we put her in the Wintergreen magnet lottery—just so if she did get in (she did not) we’d know what the differences were and be making an educated decision. I am really glad that she is at Ridge Hill. She’d been in the NH Magnet system (Beecher Magnet) for Pre-K3 & 4 and my biggest complaint about a magnet school was that kids were from all over the place, there was no community (part of which I’m sure changes as the kids get older). I wanted her to have the same experience that I had growing up—going to school with kids who live around the corner.
The first thing that impressed me at Ridge Hill was that they had all of the kindergarteners come in over the summer and meet each other, play, and meet the three teachers so that they could make an informed choice on how to divvy the kids up. I think that really made a huge difference. The kindergarten classrooms (at least two of them) are bright, large, have doors that open right onto the smaller Kindergarten playscape, and have distinct areas for groups to sit at tables, kids to play, a quieter reading nook—it’s really fantastic.
I was also AMAZED at how small the classes are. I know a lot of people with kids at Spring Glen and have classes of 22, 23, 24 kids. My daughter’s class is 16, which is awesome. Her teacher is positive and I was somewhat concerned about my daughter being stigmatized for being the youngest in her class (December birthday) but it has not been an issue at all.
Being at Ridge Hill has made me want to try and stay in this school district—we’ve met so many great people right in our neighborhood that we didn’t know at all 9 months ago—my neighbors one block away in either direction are the room parents for her class and the director of the after-school program live a few doors down. I really feel that there is a feeling of community at Ridge Hill and a real sense of pride.
Another HUGE pro to me about the school is its location. Tucked in a residential neighborhood and with a huge piece of land, it feels safe and quiet. Seeing some of the other Hamden elementary schools right on major roads makes me happy that RHS is where it is.
Cons: I wish that there was more support/funding/involvement in having a more consistent after school presence. There is a program, which sounds great for what it offers, but for a two-working-parent household it’s not comprehensive enough to use as after-school care. The two things Wintergreen magnet had that I was excited about and RHS doesn’t have are foreign language and musical instrument classes beginning in Kindergarten—now that we’re here though, I’m not missing them! Jenn S., parent
September 2012. We are so happy we chose Ridge Hill! We got into a very exclusive Hamden located magnet school, but decided that our neighborhood school would be the best choice.
Ridge Hill has a nurturing environment. The administration cares more about each student’s progress versus national test scores. The teachers are experienced and caring. Ridge Hill had almost $1 million in renovations during the summer of 2012 so the facilities have been upgraded significantly. I am proud to call Ridge Hill our school.
Louise L., parent
June 2011. I am an older parent with a graduate degree and high expectations for my child’s education. I believe it important not to miss those beautiful windows of opportunity that begin with the
natural fascination and wonder that children possess. I took the time to tour all the private schools, all the magnet schools and all the public schools, starting two years before we would
need to make any decisions about our daughter’s schooling. My husband, who shares nearly identical views and values, is a New Haven public school teacher. We thought long and hard,
and did plenty of investigation before choosing to send our daughter to Ridge Hill – or any school for that matter. Ultimately, our choice was based on preferring to keep our daughter in the
local area, to stay close to our community, and because we had heard encouraging things from neighbors whose children were attending and thriving there.
Jump ahead to just having completed two years in the school, with our daughter finishing third grade. We have treasured the sharing of community with the families and children who are not
only the bus stop crew, but our friends and neighbors.
PROS: Proactive principal, strong music and art programs (teachers), the newly installed Discovery Garden www.rhsdg.org (a parent-initiated learning garden that is to serve as a
central focus for the school science curriculum), beautiful setting, building and grounds just approved for a multi-million dollar overhaul – inside and out, a diverse community (check out
the demographics for details), one of the most successful and active PTA’s in the area (last year raised over $800 per child for additional programs), an after-school program called Ridge Hill
Rocks with diverse offerings that include everything from Fun with Science and Math, to Hip Hop dancing, Sports, and Languages – soon to include garden-based offerings, small class size
(at the time of this review – and shhhhh, don’t tell anyone – 12 to 15 students on average (at least in the lower grades – not sure about the upper grades))
CONS: The community (there are socio-economic divides in this school that are slowly being bridged, but it’s a work in progress – parent involvement seems to be climbing, but it can
be weak). No-child-Left-Behind and the requisite testing supplanting learning that connects meaningfully to life (which is a problem in every public school). TAG (talented and gifted
program) is very minimal and only begins in 4th grade (but this applies to all Hamden public schools). Lack of funding to support all the learning experiences and programs we’d like to
implement (surmountable, but a public school problem everywhere) No foreign language as part of the curriculum.
Next year, to be honest, our daughter will not be at Ridge Hill. We have decided to try homeschooling — a very personal and difficult choice. The education system is a one-size-fits
most model, which does not suit every child. Our major concern has been the lack of resources to meet the needs of a child who is gifted and learns best experientially. We do have friends and
neighbors who are satisfied with their experience at RHS, and whose children continue to thrive and enjoy their time there. We may very well be back for the fourth grade. As mentioned above,
there are many positives for this school, and we plan to stay actively involved with the garden and supporting the school in whatever ways we can in the coming year.
Elisabeth K., Parent
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