FREQUENTLY ASKED QUESTIONS

Charter schools are nonsectarian, secular public schools of choice that provide parents an alternative to traditional public schools. The "charter" establishing each school is a performance contract detailing the school's mission, program, goals, students served, methods of assessment, and ways to measure success. Charter schools, like all other public schools, do not teach religion.

A charter school is independently operated and can design elements of its own educational program, hire its own teachers and staff, and manage its own budget. The basic concept of charter schools is that the school enjoys enhanced autonomy, in return for accountability to its founders, parents, public and grantors.

Harmony Schools are operated by Harmony Public Schools, a non-profit organization, established in Houston, Texas. Harmony Public Schools operates 40 charter schools in Texas, including schools in all major metropolitan areas (Houston, Dallas, Austin, San Antonio and El Paso).
Dr. Tarim serves as the Chief Executive Officer and Superintendent of Harmony Public Schools. Visit Dr. Soner Tarim's page for more information.

Harmony offers a comprehensive college preparatory program emphasizing science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) education. Our schools strive to play a role in satisfying this need. Harmony also offers programs to encourage students to choose STEM majors in college, compete in an increasingly demanding workplace, and contribute to the long-term development for the state, national and global economies.

 

  • At Harmony, we believe every child can learn, grow and become a successful and productive citizen. When this belief is combined with the expertise necessary to establish and operate a school, the result, we think, is an excellent environment for your children to learn. We believe that this environment will lay the foundation for a bright and productive future.
  • Harmony emphasizes character education. We believe that parents want their children to attend schools where, in addition to receiving a strong education, students are taught to be honest, courageous and persistent individuals.
  • Our students wear uniforms daily and adhere to a clearly-articulated discipline policy.
  • Our teachers and leadership teams are experienced and committed to our students. At Harmony's central office, administrators are strong, dedicated and diverse individuals, who closely monitor the quality and viability of our organization
  • Harmony Public Schools teachers are high-performing, quality educators
  • At Harmony, our goal is to enable our graduating seniors to enroll in a top four-year public or private university

 

Harmony Public Schools have very high expectations for students in both academics and behavior. Our faculty and staff are dedicated and hard-working, and receive regular professional development and supervision. They function as a team and are committed to ensuring that all students succeed regardless of their circumstances and disadvantages. Harmony Public Schools have a small classroom environment and small class size.

The following educational innovations will distinguish Harmony Public Schools from other schools;

 

  • Project Based Learning approach: Harmony uses a project based learning approach implementing a cross-disciplinary, multi-sensory, technology-enabled project based learning (PBL) curriculum that integrates STEM, social studies, and English language arts. Already a model program for STEM education, Harmony leads continued innovation by connecting STEM curriculum to the humanities through rich, meaningful, and rigorous cross-disciplinary and multi-sensory projects.
  • Custom Day Personalized Learning Environments:Our Custom Day initiative provides the time and structure within the school day for students to receive individualized support to master skills at the pace and through the modality most suited to their specific learning needs, with a two-hour block of time reserved for flexible placement into intervention, enrichment, or elective courses. In intervention periods, teachers will utilize a variety of instructional approaches to support competency-based progress through individualized learning plans. Teachers will leverage technology-based learning and assessment systems to provide one-on-one personalized learning experiences for students, create smaller teacher-student ratios and support rapid feedback cycles with real-time assessment data. Students who are already on track to college and career readiness will use Custom Day time to choose math or ELA enrichment, or to pursue individual interests through elective classes.
  • Providing 1:1 access to technology devices: To support anytime access to online resources for learning, Harmony provides chromebooks for each student in middle and high school some of which can be checked out for home use. These chromebooks are utilized in Custom Day hours as students work on their personalized learning paths with educational software provided and also as they work on their STEM projects for project based learning (PBL).
  • Effective Use of Data Systems and Dashboard:By way of further deepening and accelerating student learning, Harmony is constantly invested in upgrading its data systems to integrate different types of data from multiple platforms onto dashboards customized to our different end users, such as parents, teachers, and administrators. These dashboards provide all of our stakeholders with the critical information they need to effectively interpret and act on data in order to keep us on track to student, school, and LEA-wide goals.
  • Social & Emotional Learning:Harmony Public Schools knows that for any educational model to succeed, we must provide a safe, supportive, responsive, and motivating learning environment. Creating and maintaining this kind of environment requires that we address the whole child, including social, emotional, and behavioral needs. The majority of our students live in poverty and many bring associated stresses to the classroom. Other students live with disabilities or other issues that place them at high risk of not succeeding personally. Harmony works in partnership with other youth agencies to provide individualized support services targeted to our students with more significant needs. In order to effectively personalize learning for all of our students, we must ensure that the social, emotional, and behavioral needs of all of our students are met.
  • Integration of technology into curriculum:By using a multi-sensory approach to learning, students will be provided with opportunities to learn through auditory, visual, tactile, and kinesthetic activities. Our students are guided through the process of determining which learning style is best suited to their unique needs at Harmony.
  • Online Access:Parents will be able to access online student grades, attendance, conduct, discipline reports, and teacher comments at Harmony.
  • Strong Reading and Writing Emphasis:All teachers regardless of their discipline promote authentic literacy in their classrooms through meaningful reading and writing activities and allowing students to express their work in purposeful discussions with peers.
  • Grade Advancement Policy:Harmony develops a grade advancement policy for exceptional learners who demonstrate outstanding skills in reading and mathematics.
  • Performance Assessments:Performance assessments - also known as "alternative" or "authentic" assessments - augment norm-referenced multiple-choice tests in all grade levels at Harmony.
  • Parental and Community Involvement:Involving parents in the activities of the classrooms, cafeteria, playground and many other extra-curricular affairs helps both students and parents to become better acquainted with the process of education.
  • Peer Tutoring, Mentoring and Counseling:Peer partnership is used as a positive tool at Harmony. High school students will tutor elementary and middle school students in core subject areas.
  • Guidance for teaching and support personnel:Workshops, trainings, and professional learning communities (PLCs) are the frequent and major part of our staff development at Harmony.
  • Teacher Specialization in/after 4th Grade:The elementary school has two parts. The students receive specialized subject teachers as early as in the 4th and 5th grades in mathematics, reading, computer science, foreign language, and science.
  • Teachers as Homeroom Advisors:Middle school students are assigned a homeroom teacher who acts as an advisor, helper, and immediate guide for the student at Harmony.
  • Character Education and Leadership development: The aim of education is to support the growth of pupils' overall personalities.
  • Family Visits:At Harmony, parent-teacher relationships are improved by family visits. Teachers will be urged to visit students at home to inform the parents about the school and student’s progress, while the parents will have an opportunity to provide the teachers with feedback and input.
  • Career Education: All students will attend an annual Career Day at Harmony and meet professionals from different occupations.
  • Cross-disciplinary learning:Students work on projects that require cooperative teaching efforts in language arts, fine arts, mathematics, social studies, and science.
  • Digital Art Program:The Fine Arts program is integrated with technology at Harmony. With the growing availability of technologies of interactivity and Internet access, we see new interactive and online platforms.
  • Participation in Contests:Students in the gifted and talented and the standard program are encouraged to participate in local, statewide, national and international competitions such as Robotics, Science Olympiad, Science Fairs, MathCounts, Spelling Bee, Geography Bee, etc.
  • Out of State and International Trips:Harmony organizes out of state and International Trips every year to Mexico, Canada, and various countries in Europe.

 

At Harmony Public Schools excellence is our standard, and our record of achievement shows that we have been successful in maintaining that standard. In 2013, ten Harmony campuses were ranked on the Washington Post's "2013 Most Challenging High Schools," five of Harmony's campuses made U.S. News & World Report's "Best High Schools 2013 Rankings" and four schools ranked in Newsweek's 2013 list of "Top 500" High Schools in America. With a college acceptance rate of 100 percent, Harmony has earned its reputation for providing a distinct, high-quality education. 24 Harmony Schools also bear the honor of being T-STEM field pioneer schools.

The Texas Education Agency has recently released the 2013 state accountability system ratings for more than 1,200 school districts and charters, and more than 8,500 campuses. 37 out of 38 Harmony campuses (97%) achieved the rating of Met Standard compared to 93% that of all Texas schools. 61% (23 out of 38) of HPS campuses have earned at least one distinction designation compared to 42% of all Texas campuses. 21% (8 out of 38) of HPS campuses earned distinctions in all three potential areas compared to 9% in Texas.

Yes, Harmony offers after school and Saturday tutorials.

Starting in 2013-2014 school year, Harmony will invest in key strategies to strengthen and integrate into the school day the personalized intervention and enrichment programs that are currently offered after school by instituting a Custom Day schedule whereby students receive 2 hours a day of targeted instruction on three flexible paths: receive remediation and extra support in math and English Language Arts (ELA); choose math or ELA advancement; or pursue electives in areas of interest.

While Harmony continues to offer after school and Saturday tutorials, with the Custom Day initiative the number of students who will seek additional academic assistance by means of after school and Saturday tutorials will dramatically decrease as they will be receiving this assistance during the school day in personalized learning environments.

Our Custom Day approach provides the time and structure within the school day for students to receive individualized support to master skills at the pace and through the modality most suited to their specific learning needs, with a two-hour block of time reserved for flexible placement into intervention, enrichment, or elective courses. In intervention periods, teachers will utilize a variety of instructional approaches to support competency-based progress through individualized learning plans. Teachers will leverage technology-based learning and assessment systems to provide one-on-one personalized learning experiences for students, create smaller teacher-student ratios and support rapid feedback cycles with real-time assessment data. Students who are already on track to college and career readiness will use Custom Day time to choose math or ELA enrichment, or to pursue individual interests through elective classes.

Harmony Schools is committed to implementing a program that meets the unique social, emotional, and intellectual needs of gifted and talented students through the collaboration of students, educators, parents and community members that ensures opportunities for maximum growth and development for life long success.

Many of the courses offered in traditional public schools will be offered at Harmony Public Schools. However, Harmony will offer a more broad and rigorous curriculum including English, Math, Social Studies, Science, Art, Music, Physical Education and Foreign Languages. Special emphasis is placed on science, technology, engineering, and math (STEM) subjects. In core and elective course selections, Harmony students are presented with a wide range of challenging regular and advanced courses, including advanced placement (AP), Pre AP, dual credit, and career technical education (CTE) courses.

As college-preparatory schools, students are expected to master critical content in regular and advanced courses, including AP classes as early as freshman year. Much of our instruction relies on mastery of basic skills in order to progress to higher-level skills such as critical thinking and problem-solving and many of our courses involve group projects that require teamwork and collaboration.

Admission to Harmony Public Schools is open to all students that reside within our districts' Geographic Boundaries. Please visit the campus of your choice to view its list of Geographic Boundaries. You must reside in one of the district listed to qualify for enrollment.

At Harmony Public Schools, we also offer character education classes to our students. By character we mean “common sense values” such as honesty and integrity. Harmony Public Schools strive to create a culture that honors “Doing the RIGHT thing” where RIGHT stands for Respectful, Intelligent, Genuine, Hard-Working and Team-Oriented.

Harmony uses a research-based character education program called “Second Step: Skills for Social and Academic Success.” This curriculum provides additional support for skill-building in our elementary and middle schools focusing on developing life-long skills such as empathy, communication, problem-solving, decision-making, and goal-setting. In combination with Second Step prevention curriculum, Harmony Public Schools has also partnered with DePelchin Children’s Center on a character development program to tackle and eliminate issues like peer pressure, bullying, and, crisis prevention.

Harmony hires faculty, administrators, and staff who embody the principles of character and leadership and who wish to be an active part of a community that values these principles in word and deed.

Yes, there is a school uniform policy at Harmony. Parents are asked to purchase uniform shirts from their child's campus prior to the start of each school year. Additional uniform requirements can be found in your child's student handbook.
Harmony's Board of Directors, serve as unpaid volunteers and can be nominated by anyone, including existing Board members, Harmony school employees, parents of Harmony students, Harmony alumni and the general public. The existing Board reviews the qualifications of nominees, seeking individuals who have expertise, experience or leadership abilities that will contribute to maintaining a continued standard of excellence for Harmony Public Schools and students. Once each year, the existing Board votes on nominations to replace members whose terms have expired, or who have left the Board for other reasons.
At Harmony, excellence is our standard, and this applies without exception to our students, teachers, faculty, Board of Directors, vendors, and anyone else affiliated with our schools. We have a meticulous recruitment and training process, and our teachers, in particular, are required to:
  • Recognize the basic dignities of all individuals with whom they interact in the performance of their duties;
  • Represent accurately their academic and professional qualifications;
  • Exercise due care to protect the mental and physical safety of students, colleagues, and subordinates;
  • Understand and apply the knowledge and skills appropriate to assigned responsibilities;
  • Keep in confidence legally confidential information they may obtain;
  • Ensure that their actions, or those of another on their behalf, are not made with the specific intent of advancing private economic interests;
  • Refrain from using their position or public property, or permitting another person to use an employee's position or public property, for partisan political or religious purposes; and,
  • Avoid accepting anything of value offered by another for the purpose of influencing judgment.

Under 6% percent of Harmony teachers are foreign and hold H-1B visas. This situation is due to the well-documented critical shortage of science and math teachers in the U.S. As a result, Harmony Public Schools must recruit both inside and outside of the U.S. to find qualified teachers to teach the rigorous math and science-centered curriculum that is the foundation of our schools.

No. Harmony Public Schools are not affiliated with any religious group, nor do our schools teach any sort of religious curriculum. As a publicly funded charter school system, Harmony is required to abide by the same state curriculum as any traditional public school. We have a 13-year track record of delivering a rigorous math and science-centered curriculum that produces excellent academic results. We adhere strictly to the guidelines of the Texas Education Agency, and our focus is on delivering excellent educational opportunities for children in Texas.
No. Harmony Public Schools is a nonprofit, academic entity founded in the United States for the sole purpose of providing quality public education for children in Texas. Harmony was established by a group of graduate students from Texas universities, who after working as after-school tutors, realized the need for advanced math and science education in Texas. There are no ties of any kind to any religious movement.

At Harmony Public Schools, we are committed to providing the very best education for our students, and we recruit international teachers within and outside the U.S. Today, Texas and America have a shortage of qualified math and science teachers. This unfortunate situation was highlighted in a January 2011 report from the U.S. Department of Education, which identified specific areas of deficiency (including math and science) and called for the hiring of teachers in those areas as rapidly as possible. Secretary Duncan also says, "Schools across the nation are in need of a diverse set of talented teachers, especially in our big cities and rural areas, and especially in the areas of Math, Science, Technology, Special Education, and English Language Learning."

That report follows a 2009 study that found a severe lack of math and science educators in the U.S., and suggested that the shortage would grow in coming years; while at the same time new high school graduation requirements were requiring increases in math and science curricula (Dallas Morning News, Feb. 10, 2009). This critical shortage of math and science teachers has resulted in education experts urging the federal government to become more involved in recruiting underrepresented minority students to science, math, and engineering majors, noting such efforts are critical to increasing the number of Americans working in those fields (The Chronicle of Higher Education, September 2009).

Harmony only hires international teachers when there is not enough highly qualified math and science teachers in the application pool. As a result of the national shortage of math and science teachers, it becomes a viable option for HPS administrators to hire international teachers based primarily on academic professional credentials, regardless of their national origin.

Non-discrimination Statement as Part of the School's Admission Policy

It is the policy of HPS not to discriminate on the basis of race, religion, color, national origin, gender, or disability in its programs, services, or activities as required by Title VI of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, as amended; Title IX of the Education Amendments of 1972; and Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act of 1973, as amended. For inquiries regarding non-discrimination policies, please contact Section 504/ADA Coordinator at (713) 343-3333 located at 9321 W. Sam Houston Pkwy S. Houston, TX 77099.

Nondiscrimination in Career and Technical Education Programs
HPS Child Find policy