My child has attended Great Hearts schools the past few years for both middle school and high school. Curriculum is exceptional and the rigorous courses will prepare many students for state schools and highly selective univ. I appreciate GP’s attempt to provide an environment of excellence. The teachers are passionate about their subject matter and very well educated in their respective fields of study – history, music, math, etc.
Unfortunately, my expectation of the teachers to be just as apt in the discipline of “teaching” has fallen far short of being met. The strong emphasis on verbal participation in every course is especially challenging for a student that isn’t an auditory learner. Just as class discussion is over emphasized, visual and tactual teaching methods are far under-represented. My child struggles with auditory learning so the GP classroom experience ranges from boring to miserable. Only if GP would find a way to deliver a classical education using modern teaching techniques! The classics were first innovative before they became classics.
Many teachers can take good students and produce positive results. But one true beauty of teaching is the ability to help an average, or perhaps even a struggling but motivated student, reach a higher level of learning. GP doesn’t appear to have this latter goal in mind. The faculty seems to “teach” to those students who can already teach themselves via 3hrs of homework nightly (aka "GP is not for everyone"). With so many advances in educational practicum it is hard to believe that GP is so far behind in practice. This includes no technology infused into the high school curriculum. Also, the admin is too far removed from sports programs. Our experience with one "coach" was extremely disappointing- blatant disregard for GP values. We've done a lot of supplementing to make up for these deficiencies - private tutor, camps, club sports. If your child can’t keep up with very advanced curriculum - you'll have to use Kumon or private tutors since GP teachers just repeat the same methods in tutoring that don't work in class. If your child belongs to the substantive % of students that don’t learn best from auditory instruction, consider carefully as it may be difficult to find success at this school. I support school choice initiatives and charter school education, but GP leaves me ‘Waiting for Superman’ (doc ref).
I have been attending this school for 5 years. I joined first because of friends and I was seeking a change. At my old public school I was getting B +'s and I was satisfied with it but didn't care that much about it. The first thing I noticed was how nice all the students and staff were. I then noticed how after adjusting to the homework schedule I was getting straight A's and i was enjoying the curriculum. I think this school is a perfect school for grades 6-8 because it teaches them good study habits to be used later in high school and college. The high school at GP is not everyone and requires a lot time and effort but the rewards so far that i have noticed are amazing, which include me thinking about what I should be doing to get ready for college and what I should major in. The staff at this school is just amazing they spend almost all there time devoted to helping the student with constant tutoring throughout the week. They also have a love for the subject which allows for the students to interested in it also, for example i am taking the AMC , a nation wide math test that could help with sholarships. Finally I have to say the the sports are amazing.
My son is in the 6th grade at Glendale Prep. The school is to focused on classical education. Students who go here are unlikely to acquire a job in modern technology. The only bits of technology used in the classroom are a small PC used for attendance and 1 old, yellow projector missing a wheel. Compared to other charter schools, this is below average. In the 6th grade students take a Science class. The class is to focused on pre-Socratics and Greek philosophers. The month they did spend on actual science just lead back to philosophy.I never was in need of such courses. The restrictions on a students life is also a negative. There is a ban on any "pop culture" in the school. My son was scolded for speaking at his locker about football before school even started. Also the homework takes my son till 10:00pm to finish, yet he got strait A's on the semester finals. This leaves no time for family activities. One positive aspect is that the school provides a wonderful extra-curricular program including clubs and sports. They cultivate a need for excellence inside the classroom and on the sports field although I doubt my student will return next year.
I will say this, for having such a bad AD and coaches the football team was the first AIA division VI team ever to win a playoff game in their first year in the division and won back to back state championships in the CAA the previous two years. Of course, the emphasis is on academics. We bring our children to GP so they are prepared for college and careers, not to play in the NFL. If you want your kid to play professional sports send them to a large division I school. My children will come out of GP ready for college and life, which is something I could not say after graduating from high school here in Phoenix.
Bad sports program. I agree with the previous comment, they don't hire real coaches. The staff training our children in ports are teachers and parents with little knowledge in social & sports' life. GP is nothing other than a bunch of smart kids trying to play sports, and the staff teaches that is OK to not win, as long as you have good grades. If your child love & is good at sports, GP is not for them.
GP is great in academics; however, the athletics program is ridicules. The AD continues to say they care about sports and they try to giver their students the best possible coaches. NOT TRUE. The coaches are not certified, they are parents & and teachers with little or no experience at all. My daughter competes in the highest level of her sport in club and decided no to participate in the GP team because the coach is just bad. The coach is bias to her daughter, her favorites and is more of a after school program. The other sister school (Scottsdale & Phoenix Prep) hires real coaches and it shows on the quality of their sports. GP is more academics and they give you a load of BS full of excuses, politics and reasons that just don't deliver results. On top of that, they compete at the lowest possible interscholastic level, were is worst than a recreational city league. So, academics- good, athletics-really bad.
The classroom participation portion of grading is way too high - up to 30%. If you have a child that is shy this can and will bring down their grade. If you have a child that is outspoken this can and will bring up their grade. Classroom participation should be part of a grade, but 30% is ridiculous. The weighted grade also does not work for most state schools that take applications through computers. Private schools that Great Hearts has relationships with recognize the weighted grade, but if your headed toward a state school you better think twice about your child's GPA. High turn over rate with teachers and most teachers are straight out of college so little experience.
I think the academics are great. But as for your concern about the athletics and athletes, unfortunately, there may be merit for concern. Example of athletic special treatment, they don't have open try outs. Prior to start of season positions are filled. Even if your child is more skilled and qualified if a position may be filled even before registration for that sport. It's the politics of schools not managed well, unfortunately. Politiking unchecked. Also, there has been an instance of enrollment maniuplation for star players. It's unfortunate. I fiind the academics great, teaching staff outstanding, individual school administration mediocre and sports programs seriously wanting. So if your priority is the in-classroom instruction, these are good schools. If it's great administration and athletics, keep searching.