The end of the school year brings smiles to the faces of students and teachers. But, the smiles at Hillside Elementary School mean so much more this year. Completing its inaugural school year, Hillside Elementary is located in Tesoro Viejo – Madera County’s newest, award-winning master-planned community.
“It was such a positive experience,” said Alden Washam whose 4th grade son attended Hillside Elementary School’s inaugural school year. “The support we got from all the teachers and the principal was amazing.”
The successful first school year was celebrated with a kindergarten graduation and an 8th grade promotion ceremony. Hillside Elementary School opened last August for the 2018-19 school year in Hillside Village, Tesoro Viejo’s first residential village. The school serves students in transitional kindergarten through 8th grade with an on-site preschool.
“My son absolutely loved preschool,” said Sydney Dehlan who is one of the first residents to move into Tesoro Viejo. “I expect a smooth transition into kindergarten next year, particularly since he can walk to school.”
Built as a true neighborhood school, Hillside Elementary School is part of the Chawanakee Unified School District. Because of the natural beauty of Tesoro Viejo landscape, students spent a lot of time outside learning – something that Hillside Elementary School Principal Jared Pierce is proud of.
“Our students’ learning is not confined by the classroom,” Pierce said. “I often said to a group of students, ‘let’s go for a walk.’”
There’s nothing traditional about Hillside Elementary School, as the inaugural staff was challenged to create an educational environment that engaged and inspired students to dig deeper and be active participants in their own learning.
“They have built such a great foundation,” Washam said. “This is really a family where the older kids look out for the younger kids.”
Setting a strong foundation and creating a culture where students take charge of their own positive behavior was something that was a top priority for the school, said Pierce.
“We focus how we want students to behave and let them take charge of their own behavior,” Pierce said. “We hold them accountable so that they are in tune with their environment and can manage themselves and the group – skills we want them to have as adults.”
Hillside Elementary School is at the center of Hillside Village. The community has an amphitheater, which is home to “Live on the Lawn,” an outdoor concert series; a resort-style clubhouse called The Ranch House with pools, splash pads and cabanas that will open this Fall; two neighborhood parks; in addition to miles of trails and preserved natural open spaces.