Founded in 1898 in the Houston Heights, Harvard Elementary began with 30 students in five grades. The school is still at its original location. Before it was officially named after the street on which it is located, it was known as “Houston Heights School No. 2.” The school’s mission is “to empower each student with global awareness, knowledge, skills and values necessary to make a better world.” Harvard Elementary is an IB World School and also offers STEM Magnet and G/T programs.
As a magnet school within HISD, Harvard Elementary has no religious affiliation. Students’ religious convictions do not factor into admissions, and the curriculum does not include theological material. While there is no institutionalized prayer in the school, there is a daily minute of silence during which students may choose to pray. Additionally, absences due to religious holidays do not count against a student’s record, though the student is still responsible for make-up work.
Harvard Elementary is located inside the 610 Loop, just north of I-10, in the Houston Heights neighborhood at Harvard Street and 8th Street. The neighborhood is primarily residential. The current school building was constructed in 1923, with expansions in 1979 and 1988. The building is part one-story, part two-stories, and the grounds include trees, a playground, and a covered basketball court.
The admissions process for the Magnet program at Harvard Elementary requires a completed application (found online), the student’s original birth certificate, proof of HISD residence, the previous year’s final report card and the first grading period of the current year’s report card, and the student’s immunization records. HISD residents should apply during the Phase 1 application window, which lasts from late September until early December for the subsequent school year, and admitted students are notified by late March.
To apply to Harvard’s Neighborhood Vanguard Gifted and Talented (G/T) program, new students must complete the application for Kindergarten G/T testing by the beginning of January. Parents and teachers of current students may recommend students for G/T testing.
Students may be eligible to attend Harvard Elementary by reason of zoning. Zoned students will automatically be admitted to the STEM magnet program (but not necessarily the Neighborhood Gifted and Talented program) upon completion of the magnet application. Non-zoned students’ applications will be placed in a lottery for the remaining spots after zoned students have been placed.
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Harvard Elementary offers a magnet STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Math) program and a Vanguard Neighborhood G/T program. Additionally, Harvard Elementary is an International Baccalaureate World School, and the IB Primary Years Programme curriculum has been implemented throughout the school. Even students who are not in the magnet program will follow the IB curriculum in place of the HISD On-Track curriculum for elementary school. As part of the Primary Years Programme, all students participate in a 7-day rotation of 55-minute classes in math lab, science lab, technology lab, art, library, music, and P.E.
Accommodations are available for students with special needs who meet the requirements for admission. If the parents already have documentation about the student’s special needs, the school will need a copy of that documentation. After receiving the documentation, the school will set up an annual ARD meeting that the parents, the student, an administrator, a core subject teacher, a special education teacher or 504 representative, and an HISD advocate will attend to discuss the specific modifications necessary for the student and to create an individualized education plan (IEP) for the student. Every teacher will receive a copy of the modifications for the student after they are set in the ARD meeting.
If the parents want to request modifications for their child, then the special education teacher will give the student’s teachers paperwork to document the student’s behavior and any modifications the teacher uses for the student. After 6 weeks of documentation, the teachers will turn in the paperwork, and the special education teacher or 504 representative will call a meeting similar to an ARD meeting. If the meeting determines that the student needs accommodation, then the school will have documentation of the student’s special needs and will follow the same procedures as above.
Spanish is offered as part of the IB Primary Years Programme. Students receive 30 minutes of instruction per week.
Students attend art class and music class every seven days for 55 minutes each. In art class, students are exposed to painting, drawing, collage, printing, and sculpture. They are also introduced to classic artists, culture, and art history. Music classes focus on music theory and vocal technique. Every grade level performs music selections at the Awards Day program at the end of the school year. Harvard also offers a Multimedia Club, in which students use multimedia and animation software to combine photos, narration, animation, and videos to create movies in a QuickTime format.
Students at Harvard Elementary learn about a variety of technologies through the use of digital photography, desktop publishing, digital movies, graphics, productivity tools, and Internet research. The Technology Applications curriculum has four strands: Foundation, Information Acquisition, Problem Solving, and Communication. The campus is wired to a Local Area Network.
Students’ phones must remain off and in a backpack or locker while on campus.
Harvard offers the following clubs: Choir, Name That Book, Robotics, Honor Society, Student Council, and Multimedia. The Choir performs at the Winter Holiday Program and annual Spring Concert. The Multimedia Club hosts two camps each year in which the club members present and teach about their video productions. School events include the Sock Hop, Kindergarten Career Day, Family Math Night, Field Day, and the Science Fair. Students may also participate in community service projects, such as raising money for a water well in Rwanda, collecting food for a school-wide food drive, and donating shoes.
PE is integrated into the IB Primary Years Programme curriculum at Harvard Elementary. No other information concerning the school’s athletic programs is available at this time.
Parents join the PTA, volunteer in the classroom, or chaperon field trips. In order to volunteer at school activities, parents must first undergo training through HISD’s VIPS (Volunteers in Public Schools) program.
The school also has a Shared Decision Making Committee, through which interested parents can join with teachers and community members to advise the principal on important administrative matters.