We have had a tremendous experience at St. Thomas. Our three children have each benefited by a strong curriculum, faculty and administrative leadership. The principal Mary Coffman is exceptional in every way. The school has high expectations for teachers, students and parents. There are no free riders at STA. Faith and values are demonstrated not only in the classroom but by the examples of the administration, teachers and religious (nuns/sisters) who serve the community. The students and families are dedicated to creating a positive environment for students to excel. The only element that Catholic schools should change, including STA, is the grading scale which requires a 94% to receive an A. Every student can find success at the school but it does require effort by each parent. Bottom line - STA is a wonderful place where students benefit from both a strong faith filled culture and high academic standards. In my opinion, it is one of the very best schools in Phoenix.
My son is in 4th grade, having attended STA since Kindergarten. He has received a wonderful academic education and is also receiving a very traditional Catholic education. Check the diocesan website and you will find that student averages in all grade levels are at least one grade level above their current grade. The school ranks consistently in the top 5% nationwide on the Iowa Test of Basic Skills. Most of the families are very involved and are expected to donate their time and/or money to the school. We have had nothing but good experiences with our son's teachers and the administration. Make no mistake about it. The pastor definitely controls the church and the school. It is no democracy, so if you are thinking of enrolling your child, you need to trust in the pastor's leadership. If you want your child to have "rights" to express himself through sloppy clothes and disrespectful language, if your child has behavioral problems, if you have a disdain for grooming and dress codes or if you are a professional victim and expect people to cater to you without yourself first making an effort to participate and become part of the community, you will be happier elsewhere.
This have been my child's first and last year at this school. Many of the reviews state that the value of the educations it top notch. I have to disagree with those statements. My child had had a difficult time adjusting to the new environment because the work resembles what was being tough last year. The school does show favoritism to those with money and time to devote to the school. My child has felt bullied and singled out. As a parent I have also experiences this first hand. When dealing with the teachers, I have been belittled and talked down to, my parenting style have been called into question on many occasions. Not all teacher have acted in this manner. The school would be a better place if staff were evaluated for by the success of there students and not who they know. I would not recommend this school to anyone that whats to promote free thought in their household. If you are looking for a better educational environment look some place else.
Decent school, but not open to improvement or new ideas. It is run like a dictatorship and despite a school board and faculty, nothing, I mean nothing happens here unless the church's pastor says so and he is NOT open to change at all. I prefer a more collaborative environment where teachers and parents can contribute and continually improve the school....where a school board and not just one man can decide what is best for the school. For that reason, I give it an "unsatisfactory" rating.
Two years ago there was a tumultuous change in administration that has turned out to be quite the blessing in disguise. The optimum class size has been lowered to 30 (although a couple 'carry-over' grades still have 31 or 32) and the few teachers in the upper grades that many parents took issue with have been replaced with enthusiastic, vibrant educators with a genuine Christian spirit. The academics are challenging, however, the children are also taught grade/age appropriate organizational skills and personal responsibility that goes a long way to making the academics achievable for most. The 2009 Iowa Basics testing STA scored in the 96% in the nation. Aside from the academic excellence, the spiritual and social growth of the students is a primary focus as well. Finally the parent community is amazing willing to give time, talent and treasure for the betterment of the school as well as the community.