We were very happy at this school for our child for the first few years. The social environment, caring, loving attitude is wonderful. The activities are fun and creative. Most of the teachers and aides are excellent and we truly felt our child was safe and in a socially thriving school. Unfortunately, it is true with the consistent complaint that if your child doesn't 'click' with their teacher from 1-8th grade, you are out of luck because the school will support the teacher. They did not listen to us as a family nor try to work with us at all when problems arose with our child. The lack of support was very disappointing as we thought this school would help our child and encourage us. Also, taking our child out of this program and trying to acclimate to the public school system has been challenging as the progression of acedemics is very different at this school. If we had known the friction was going to occur at PFS, we wouldn't have started our child there. Fortunately, kids are resiliant and our child is doing well in a new school!
We enrolled our two children in grades 4 and 6 at Pine Forest while we have been on sabbatical in Flagstaff from Scotland and couldn't have been happier. The school community (kids, staff and parents) have been very welcoming despite the fact we are only here for half the year. The kids have thrived in the Waldorf approach - loving the holistic approach which draws in art, music, foreign languages and physical education - and at the same time is academically challenging and inspiring - because of the cross-curricular approach. It has been a special experience being part of a school community with parents, pupils and staff that are happy to be there, enthusiastic about learning.
My three children's experience at Pine Forest were as balanced as a parent can hope for. They progressed developmentally in every aspect of life through their 8-10 years attending the school. Each advanced academically, grew artistically and developed socially and emotionally in ways which have supported them through high high school and into college. Thank you PFS facuty, staff and administration for continuing to provide Waldorf education to the children and families of Flagstaff.
This school has been such a wonderful discovery for our family. I have two boys that transferred here after school closures last year. It has an old world feel that truly nourishes each child to bring them up to their full potential. Even though class sizes are in the low 30's, my child has been taught individually to meet his needs. The teacher takes just a few moments to meet his specific needs and he functions highly. In the public school system I was demanding my child be tested because he was always behind and kept in at every recess and would cry that he didn't want to go to school anymore. The socialization is amazing. On Fridays, several grades get together in the morning and sing folk and American Heritage songs as a community. Parents may stay and sing along. Probably one of my favorite points is that parents are included and encouraged to come to school. I have never felt like an outsider looking in. As for the same teacher throughout, it couldn't be a better system. With the same teacher each class truly becomes family and teachers know how best to meet each child's needs and love each one of them. Why didn't I get them in Pine Forest sooner?
Sometimes a family's dysfunction spills over into projections on the institution that is trying to help them. I am afraid this is the case with the first review here. I have two children that thrived in their entire elementary and jr. high education at Pine Forest. Children enjoy school and learning in the safe and rich supportive environment that Pine Forest offers. Ask the parents what they think of the school and they will tell you they love it.
We pulled our daughter out of PFCS 12/09. The teacher was rigid and unresponsive, the principal and others were at best unethical. We had a very moderate special need, our daughters challenges were dismissed and worse than not being addressed the existence of the challenges was DENIED. Our situation resulted in an investigation by the AZ Dept. of Ed. and an conclusion of multiple violations of special ed law and federal regulations. As long as things went their (the school's) way things were wonderful, once we had a need that did not fit their mold, the first and repeated "suggestion" from the principal was that perhaps this just wasn't the school for our child. It is also absolutely true that it totally depends on the teacher you get, we clearly pulled the short straw, a different teacher and we would probably still be there.
I too don't agree with the rating that this site gives to Pine Forest. My child has thrived there partly because of the warmth, fairness and intelligence the current teacher displays to the class. My child's teacher before this had obvious favorites among, not only students, but parents as well. It's all about how well the child and the teacher get along at PF. And if you're lucky to get one of the real human beings as a teacher, then PF is a great place. My one criticism is that parents aren't give a lot of credit. If I've had an unpopular concern that's important to me, I pretty much have to go to the principal, who is a really decent fellow. The teachers don't want to be bothered with what they consider to be extreaneous parent concerns. I have had to navigate the Northwest Passage of teachers here.
After having had 2 children attend pineforest charter school I can not begin to tell what a great school this has been for them. My oldest is a freshman in college and I still have one in high school. Both of my children have excelled on all levels. More to the credit to pineforest teachers and administrators is that you see almost all of the pineforest glassmates are also excelling in comunity, science, theater. They seem to be in the forfront of most classes. This school is not for everyone but everyone I've seen go through 8th grade seems to stand out once they go to high school.The word life forces are used and what I have observed this school brings these out in individules.
I have concerns about the philosophy of students staying with the same teacher thru 8th grade. Is this system realistic? If it 'clicks' between teacher and student, it is great. If it doesn't, it can be negative experience. The school is inflexible about this subject and brushes off parents' concerns. I had a child attend Pine Forest K-8, and it was a wonderful experience because the teacher was open, honest, flexible, compassionate, knew and embraced every student. I have another child who attended K-4, and I felt that this teacher judged my child in first grade when the child was young, unfocused and 'chatty' and never saw them differently after that. Test scores indicate student is doing great, even excelling, yet teacher gives student 'needs improvement' on their report card. Did my child become disengaged and stop performing to their full potential? Would a change in teachers have made a difference?
I do not believe that the Greatschools rating adequately represents the quality of education kids receive at Pine Forest. It is true that PF takes the hard-core academic stuff more slowly (reading, writing, math) in the earlier grades, but if you look at the test scores, the PF kids 'catch up' to the higher rated schools by the older grades. And in the meantime, they have learned German, Suzuki violin, they've had art and music every day, Spanish twice a week, and the older kids I've met are well-rounded, delightful human beings who have developed a life-long love of learning. Class sizes are smaller, aides are in abundance, and kids are given the individual attention they need. The comments about the administration are definitely not true anymore. We currently have a very dedicated, forward thinking principal and some excellent, committed board members. We love this school.