This is a safe place to share your honest opinions of a school, whether good or bad.
Sonoran Sky Elementary School5
Posted March 31, 2015
- a parent
We moved across the country last year, touring several schools and districts before finally landing at Sonoran Sky. From Day 1, the SSky staff made our whole family feel welcome. One year later and I can't even begin to express how thrilled we are with our choice of Sonoran Sky Elementary. SSky is a community where academics are paramount, and students are constantly encouraged to go beyond. The staff genuinely seem to love their jobs, and the students know it! The principal, Mr. Robert Dawson, is exactly the kind of person you want leading your school. He is proactive and no-nonsense yet still kind and gentle. The kids deeply respect him, and as a parent, I know he's always there to listen or address an issue, if needed. The Self-Contained Gifted program is fantastic. But not every child belongs in Self-Contained. The format of the cluster classes is extremely flexible so if a child is an advanced reader but struggles in math, the SSky program allows that child to be placed in higher level reading while making sure the math level is still appropriate. SSky is a wonderful elementary school and community. The "A+" rating just reinforces that fact.
Overall, the school is a good one. It is better than many of the others that we have toured. The school has a fair cluster program and self-contained program. For the cluster program, grades 2 and 3 are strong. We have found 1, 4, 5, and 6 to lack the rigor that the school prizes itself as being a challenging. Grade 1, 4 and 5 are sluggish and are taught by seasoned teachers. The admin are aware of these problems, however, there are not any changes. The self contained program is a good idea, however, there is little supervision or support to measure the quality and efficacy of the curriculum that is provided. It is a good program if you do not mind having to teach your child basic info. The grade 4 self contained program at Sonoran sky is amazing though and worth while. The Grade 5 team is not a strong one. They are too preoccupied with directing the grade play, Sing America Sing. While the play is intended for reinforcing american history, I am unclear why the staff are allowed to direct the play during class time particularly before testing. The play needs to be an after school activity or at least during the last 2 months of school.
Ok, I was trying to post 2 reviews but the system wouldn't let me so I'll try to consolidate. Overall, this school is incredible! 5 Stars, all the way. The staff and teachers all look out for their students and the differentiation is top notch. The parents are involved, technology is used effectively (not too much, not too little). Academics are amazing. We have been thrilled since coming here from a Scottsdale school. It is not perfect and there are bumps along the way but overall Sonoran Sky provides a solid academic foundation and its students are well prepared for middle school and life. Having said all that, I do have to comment on the self-contained program as we came here for this. While it was great at first, it has changed significantly and not for the better. The District's Director is more focused on expanding to other schools and does not have a handle on the inner workings of the program she oversees. SSky does cluster and pull out honors extremely well so if you have a gifted child, I would highly recommend SSky and the honors program. If you feel strongly that your child needs self-contained, consider another school where the District is focusing resources.
So let me understand. The 2013-2014 AIMS test results, that were just published, showed SSKY ranked 7th out of 925 Elementary schools in all of Arizona. It also was ranked as #1 in all of PVUSD . This is the highest achievement the school has ever received in all the years the test has been given. This also was accomplished during the first year of a new administration and replacement of teachers that left to other PVUSD schools. I think these results speak for themselves as a rebuttal to the inaccurate and unfair statements concerning the new Principal and a few teachers leaving. A persons prejudice and distortions can be discounted, facts and results cannot.
Very misrepresented on school tour. New admin is worse than the old. They are inexperienced, reactionary & ineffective. Cruelty, intimidation & physical violence were excused. Children of those with influence or special diagnoses are protected from consequences while others suffer intimidation, taunts, threats & even physical abuse. Children, including ours, make mistakes, but we believe in addressing those situations to ensure it does not happen again. After a baffling half year struggle with nonresponsive/ineffective admin who could/would not ensure our children were safe and treated fairly, we threw in the towel. So this review is not about being invited back we left to ensure our children are safe with administrators who listen and take appropriate action. There are enough choices that are so much better I advise you to keep looking. There are many teachers in the lower grades - three are new and struggling with classroom dynamics. I wouldn't risk it.
I got my sons scores today and we WILL be changing schools. I believed the hype, that things were still good and the school was not lacking. My child is gifted and all his teachers left. I wish we had gone with them. Now we have a wasted year and have to start over. I urge you to do what is best for your child. I wish I had.
Whomever wrote the review about declining test scores and saying the school is going the "traditional route" is writing about the wrong school (there are at least 2 elementary schools named Sonoran Sky in AZ alone). Look at the Test Scores on this page. Yes, there is some fluctuation but, for the most part, scores are improving. With respect to technology, the school has a well-defined commitment to teaching 21st century skills. There are IPads and Chrome books for every class and we have a terrific full-time tech teacher with whom each kid spends at least one class period each week. Whole language, multiple intelligences, phonics, and many other teaching methods are employed, including, but by no means limited to, "traditional" ones. If you are considering this school (the one in Scottsdale), the best advice I can give is to ignore all these reviews and take a tour. Visit the dedicated science lab, the computer labs, the classrooms (each with computer stations), connect to the on-campus WiFi, meet with our principal, see the outdoor classroom, and then decide for yourself. Ask for the name of a PTO person to connect with to answer the rest of your questions.
Sonoran Sky has really changed. Test scores have declined and they have taken the focus off technology. They are currently going the "traditional school" route, which I don't like and neither do my kids. We will be looking for a more modern option for the fall. I left a glowing review previously, but it really isn't the same school any longer.
As these reviews pertain to an elementary school, let s do some simple elementary math. When you have at least 39 qualified teachers and staff, and 4 of them leave to start a new program at a new school that represents a change of staff of less than 10%. Simple statistical analysis shows that though 10% of a whole is worth mentioning, it is far, far from being notable or significant. So when reviewers, or one repetitive reviewer states ALL the good teachers left , their reason for making that nonobjective, exaggerated statement must be taken with less than a grain of salt . You can only conclude that there is some other agenda for those comments. Remember why those 4 teachers left; factually stated above. It is commonly known, even today, that Sonoran Sky has a reputation throughout the district and community for producing students who are well prepared and able to meet 21st Century educational requirements. This also is a fact borne out by AIMS test results and AZ State Certification. One more math problem to ponder is when the student population is maintained or continually grows than statically speaking the education being provided must be maintaining its high standards.
Sonoran Sky was a really good school before all the good teachers left. They went to another school in the district. Now we are left with teachers counting the days until retirement. The principal has not been responsive to my concerns. I keep calling and his secretary makes excuses. If you are looking for a challenging school, I suggest looking elsewhere.