Town Square

Hillview Middle School: New look, new principal

Original post made on Aug 18, 2012

Hillview Middle School's campus will have more than new buildings and landscaping when the school bell rings next month. There will also be a new person behind the desk in the principal's office: Erik Burmeister.

Read the full story here Web Link posted Friday, August 17, 2012, 8:04 AM


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Posted by academy survivor
a resident of Menlo Park: Central Menlo Park
on Aug 18, 2012 at 12:18 am

Yet another mark against Ghysels: the failure to promote from within. Shameful not to consider current employees for this key job. The Hillview that so many of us loved, with a culture of community and achievement created and nurtured by Mike Moore for many years, has been thoroughly trashed and replaced with an empty plasticized version that will provide our children with little sustenance and even less learning.

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Posted by Not Loved By All
a resident of Menlo Park: Linfield Oaks
on Aug 18, 2012 at 1:27 pm

Why would anyone think that current employees hadn't been considered for the job of Hillview Principal? Of course they were. But the last thing Hillview needed was more of the same. Because of Dr. Ghysels reputation as a progressive educator who puts teacher quality and program strength before window dressing, MPCSD was able to attract Erik Burmeister who is universally recognized as a superstar. "The Hillview so many of us loved" was only loved by the in-crowd. It was a middle school that served only the top-performing kids who could learn independently, but was a nightmare for many others. Creative, right-brain thinkers, for instance. Gifted kids who were trapped in a grueling workbook world. Struggling kids from diverse backgrounds who were barely tolerated and had no system for becoming integrated into the learning community. What Mike Moore developed and nurtured for many years was an exclusive country club for teachers where only the top 10% of students mattered. He left behind a very entrenced, toxic atmosphere of intolerance and disrespect by teachers for students and parents, and by students for each other. I wish the best for Mr. B and have great hope that Hillview will flourish under his leadership. I'm looking forward to smart decisions begin being made because they benefit the education of all children rather than because they're convenient or just the way it's always been done.

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Posted by Yes and No...
a resident of Atherton: Lindenwood
on Aug 18, 2012 at 6:00 pm

"Not Loved by All:" I agree with your points, except the one about Dr. Ghysels. He does not have a reputation of being a "progressive educator," rather his track record is one of implementing the latest fad with poor outcomes for the school community. His focus is clearly on "window dressing" and self-promotion rather than education.

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Posted by academy survivor
a resident of Menlo Park: Central Menlo Park
on Aug 18, 2012 at 7:45 pm

Mike Moore was much loved by most of the kids -- and that is saying a lot, in a middle school. He knew the name of every child in that school, came out and played with them at recess, and made it clear that individual students mattered to him. His attitude permeated the school. There's a reason why the kids who graduated after he left chose him as their speaker in 2010. He would have also been the choice of the 2011 class had the ballot box not been rigged. (Ask any member of that class if they voted for Ken Ranella and his retirement speech.)

This is not a knock on Burmeister. I know nothing about him, and maybe he's great. But Mike Melton managed to alienate most of the staff as well as students and parents. Yes, Mike Moore was a tough act to follow, but Melton seemed determined to be the Moore antagonist. He couldn't be bothered to learn anyone's name, a fact that upset quite a few of the students, including student government members who had met with him individually and were shocked that he didn't seem to recognize them afterward. He alienated teachers across the board. I know, because I talked to them and heard their frustrations. During his reign, he essentially eliminated the beloved traditions that had set Hillview apart as a terrific middle school -- traditions that students of all backgrounds enjoyed, like Greek Week. I also have two friends with special needs children who pulled their kids because their children were being bullied and abused at school and Melton didn't care. Mike Moore always cared.

And what will Melton's legacy be? The academy system. Where parents are told that all our children are being taught the same way by teachers who are fungible commodities. No accommodations are to be made for individual learning styles or challenges. Everyone is the same. (And that's why so many kids started to fall through the cracks. Because saying something is so doesn't make it so.)

This Orwellian effort to rewrite history is a little spooky. But there are thousands of students who graduated from Mike Moore's Hillview who can attest to the fact that it was a wonderful community that served students from a broad range of socioeconomic backgrounds, personalities, and aspirations. A lot of smart kids graduated from that school, and they are not easily brainwashed. I do wonder why it seems so important to current administration to play this hand?