Flower Hill Primary School is all set to shine in the new school year. Teachers have been visiting the building to organize their classrooms, open boxes of supplies and prepare the first lessons of 2019/20. Custodial staff members have been polishing every inch of the building. A sense of enthusiasm is evident.
“I’m excited about starting my second school year at Flower Hill,” Principal Lucia Laguarda said. “We have a mostly seasoned staff and we are going to build on our success and keep the upward momentum going. Staff experienced professional development opportunities over the summer and read on best practices.”
Lucia Laguarda is Flower Hill School's principal
Flower Hill’s more than 300 students are a proud bunch. The group is a true melting pot of personalities and cultural backgrounds that mirrors America. Everyone gets along remarkably well. The youngsters support and encourage each other in inspiring fashion.
“We are all learners at Flower Hill and we are excited to share what we have learned with each other,” Ms. Laguarda said. “Flower Hill staff are constantly looking for ways to improve and we know that this year will be even better than last year. The Huntington School District continues to support all of our schools and our community will notice our new security vestibule when they arrive at Flower Hill. The safety of our students and staff our paramount and this added protection is a welcome addition.”
Principal of Flower Hill Primary School since December 1, 2017, Ms. Laguarda obtained a BA in sociology with a minor in Spanish at the University of Massachusetts Amherst in May 1992. She also studied as an undergraduate at Universidad de Sevilla in Spain and went on to earn a Master of Arts in Education with a multicultural emphasis at California State University-Dominguez Hills in May 1996.
A member of the Phi Delta Kappa Honor Society, Ms. Laguarda had been the Riverhead School District’s director of professional personnel at the time of her appointment as Flower Hill’s principal. She earlier served as principal of Hemenway Elementary School (2010-2015) and in a dual appointment as principal of King Elementary School (2013-2015) in Framingham, Massachusetts. The latter was the district’s first STEAM school.
Ms. Laguarda began her career as a bilingual classroom teacher for grades 3-5 at Clyde Woodworth Elementary School in Inglewood, California, working there from 1992-1996 before becoming a teacher support coordinator with Teach for America in Los Angeles. She supervised, evaluated and provided in-service mentoring to over 200 TFA teachers in the LA area from 1996-1998.
A bilingual and multicultural teaching methods instructor at California State University-Dominguez Hills in 1997-1998, Ms. Laguarda went on to serve as an English language special projects coordinator at Eucalyptus Elementary School in Hawthorne, California from 1998-2000. She was assistant principal of William Green Elementary School from 2000-2002 and principal of Billy Mitchell Elementary School from 2002-2005 and 2006-2010, both in Lawndale, California.
A native Spanish speaker, Ms. Laguarda was an instructional coach and school improvement consultant with Teachscape National Professional Development in the Indian Oasis School District in Tucson, Arizona in 2006.
Ms. Laguarda is Flower Hill School’s eighth permanent principal since it opened in September 1954.
“I’m looking forward to opening day and to a great 2019/20 school year,” Ms. Laguarda said.
Flower Hill School History
Flower Hill Elementary School was erected in 1954 in response to a surge in enrollment experienced by the Huntington School District during the post-World War II era. Huge tracts of wooded land and farms were snatched up by developers who later erected thousands of houses throughout the area.
The basic design and layout of Flower Hill closely mirrors that of its sister schools, Southdown and Washington. All three were simultaneously constructed, using identical materials. The Flower Hill site, which includes 14 acres of land, is tucked into a beautiful area of the school district, crammed with flowering trees.
As students poured into Huntington during the 1950’s, district trustees moved to address the space crunch by proposing an additional wing for Flower Hill. Residents supported the idea and the structure went up in 1958, resulting in the current dimensions.
Flower Hill features an attractive entrance area. The building’s exterior features classic red brick. A second parking lot was constructed to better accommodate the needs of employees and parents visiting the school.
In addition to regular classrooms, Flower Hill contains space used for self-contained instruction, physical therapy, ENL services, computer instruction and art, reading and music classes. Smaller spaces are used for speech, math, occupational therapy, psychological services, remedial instruction and speech therapy.
The school also has a gym with a stage in one end, a cafeteria for breakfast and lunch and a well-equipped library and media center. There are two outdoor playground areas for student recreation and exercise.
The school’s original kindergarten playground was replaced with modern equipment. An extravagant garden area was created behind the gym, between the building’s two wings. To descend into the basement, which is really just one large room, you must exit the building and utilize a separate entrance. That area is used strictly for storage.
Flower Hill threw itself a 50th anniversary party in 2004, as did its counterparts Southdown and Washington. At one time or another, the school has housed students ranging from kindergarten through sixth grade. Today it services those in grades K-3 with an enrollment of 325.