November 27, 2012
I am a student at a Harmony public school. I've been going since the eighth grade (I am now a Junior in Highschool, and I have a few quick things to say. First of all, let's be honest here. Very few of us students got here by choice. Think to yourself: am I making my kid go here? Does he/she hate every second of it, even though I know this is what's good for them? The answer is probably "Yes". This is totally normal. As I said, very few of us got here by choice. If your kid hates the school to pieces, I'd still say give it a couple of years. It took me two to realize that maybe it's not so bad. In fact, it's actually pretty great. Here's one other thing real quick: I am not Math/Science inclined. I'm good at History, English, Art - things like that. However, I've still gotten a MUCH better Math/Science education here than any of my friends that go to public school. Now, to the real business: Why do I like it here? Because it's so incredibly... home! A lot (but not the majority) of the teachers are foreign, usually Turkish, though there are frequently people from some of the other Middle-Eastern countries and parts of Asia. Though this may seem like it would be a cause of chaos, it actually creates this crazy kind of bubble. It's incredibly friendly. People are totally willing to share their cultural backgrounds - we share food, stories, pictures - it's so amazing. I am a Christian, but I know so much about other religions through attending a Harmony school. I have lots of Hindu and Muslim friends, and it's fascinating to talk to them, comparing theology. It's very open and respectful. I, personally, think that the cultural education is just as important as the academic one. This is definitely the place to get that. Also, teachers in general are really interested in students, which I don't remember feeling at public schools. If I'm failing a class, my teacher will sit down with me and actually make a plan for what to do. Teachers are very technologically up-to-date, so they know just what resources online will be helpful to me at home. A few pointers, though: Please, DO YOUR RESEARCH. My school, for example, Harmony Science Academy: North Austin, is particularly strong in the History department. Our teachers for that are totally awesome. All our subjects have great teachers, and are good, but History is the best overall. I would talk to *students* about the school you want your kid to go to, whenever possible. The opinions of teachers and administrators are, of course, important, but by necessity a little biased. The other thing I would give you is a warning. Harmony is *notoriously* disorganized. Don't feel pushy if you resort to calling again and again and again to organize an interview or tour whatever. They probably just forgot they had phones, or something. It can be rather silly. Events are often last-minute, and administration is frequently sluggish to make decisions. However, Harmony *does* respond eventually, and they're generally reasonable. Just keep trying to get your message through - it'll work, in time! So, in conclusion, Harmony public schools are *good schools*. And, no, in all my time here, no one has ever made a pass at converting me to anything. Don't be ridiculous. That's utter and complete nonsense touted by islamophobes and disgustingly poor journalism.
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