This is a safe place to share your honest opinions of a school, whether good or bad.
Arcadia Neighborhood Learning Center5
Posted December 03, 2014
- a community member
I'm an student at ANLC and I can definitely attest to great learning environment of my school. From the time of kindergarten, ANLC has instilled the values of doing my personal best and being a meaningful, creative thinker. I would describe ANLC as not just a smart school, but as a gifted school. My fellow students and I not only understand the materials were learning, but we draw inferences to connect to the curriculum, we don't just listen with interest, but we show our opinions to fully understand. Examples of this is when we get to do thinking maps, project based learning, and Socratic seminars. When I came to ANLC in kindergarten I had the opportunity to be inspired by older students. I love going to a school that has kindergarten through 8th grade because as an 8th grade student I know I'm a role model to many younger students. ANLC has an endless amount of opportunities. Some of my favorite activities at ANLC are, the morning announcements, taking math at Arcadia high school, National Junior Honor Society, exploration Friday and buddy read, family read, and student council . Regardless of what others have said, now you know, firsthand what ANLC is truly like.
ANLC is an awesome school and a second home for my kids and I! I love the diversity. There is also a strong sense of "community" between the parents and the kids of ALL ages. It is a multi-age school where kids are grouped by two grade levels (K/1, 1/2,3/4,5/6,7/8). They have a "project-based" learning model and the kids are encouraged to "think outside the box" to complete their projects. This freedom helps spark passion and the love of exploration and learning. Because the kids are grouped by two grade levels and mentor each other, the relationships carry on through the years and on the playground. The older classes are also paired with a younger class and meet weekly to "buddy read" together. This is another opportunity for mentoring to occur across the ages and relationships to grow. There are also awesome programs that are traditions at ANLC. My favorite is "Exploration Friday". This occurs 4x/year. The kids have two (1hour) classes where they learn about various topics from square dancing to veterinary medicine. ANLC teaches much more than academics, it teaches the importance of community & passion for lifelong learners & leaders!
In just the past week, I heard from an alum who said that ANLC changed his life; from a Mom who talked about how the presence of strong, creative Moms redefined her notion of the PTO Mom; from a teacher who is overwhelmed by the outpouring of help she is getting in her time of need; from a parent who is getting answers from fellow parents to complex medical questions. There is no question that the education your child will receive at ANLC is top notch. My kids thrive here, they enjoy learning and thirst for more. They are rewarded for creativity not conformity! They work collaboratively, something that is being lost in the "back to basics" schools in favor of drills and worksheets. My kids are exposed to a plethora of activities, cultures and new experiences through amazing PTO programs like Exploration Friday and Art Masterpiece, etc. But if I had to put my finger on the one thing I would miss if I had to move away and take my kids to a different school, it would be the community. It is a family and we care about each other, each other's kids, our teachers, our staff and your kids too, even if they don't go here. I truly believe we are making Arizona a better place.
This school is perfect for those who want an alternative to the traditional school and for kiddos who may not fit into the traditional mold. The learning environment is creative and project-based. The families are down to earth. We have been at school since 3rd grade, however, do not feel confident about the environment at this point. We like that the middle school kiddos are separated from the lower school kids, however, we do not have a good feeling about our son's 6th grade experience. We are unsure of the what happens in the classrooms. My son says that he spends most of his day talking to his friends in class and does not appear to complete his classroom work. He gets nervous about changing classes because so many of his friends like to wrestle and yell in the hallways at school. We have tried to talk to teachers and administration and are told that our son is fine and he is in a great place. We are curious if anyone else is having similar experiences? We are thinking of finding a school with more structure for next year.
We want to love ANLC but are struggling to get past many of it's faults. It has many wonderful programs that distinguish it from other schools, we have had one really good teacher, the new campus is beautiful, and there are a small community of families that do all they can to make it a wonderful place. However, although the leadership is accessible, it is weak. Decisions need to be made and problems need to be resolved, not just discussed. Discipline is very relaxed and ineffective. We have also had a teacher that was lazy and disengaged. It is certainly a school that is in transition. For us it's still better that many of the other Valley schools, but it could be so more with real leadership.
It is important to recognize that when one is truly confident with a given choice, in this case an educational fit, they feel no need to angrily defend their position. Comments like "completely off base", "your child needs more discipline", Veritas is right down the street", are certainly unfortunate and do not reflect well on the ANLC community. It is wonderful the previous reviewer has found a good educational fit for their family. Some of us had a very different experience at ANLC. Both positive and constructively critical feedback are outstanding tools for process improvement. Defensiveness closes the door on learning.
The reviewer who believes that ANLC students spend "precious hours catching up" when they get to high school is completely off base and clearly doesn't know many ANLC graduates. ANLC students do extremely well at Arcadia high school and many take honors classes. In fact, the valedictorian of Arcadia high school a few years ago was an ANLC graduate. There are 10 eighth graders and one seventh grader taking honors GeoTrig (10th grade math) at Arcadia high school and doing very well (I can speak for my son and one other who are both making A's). My slightly nerdy children have yet to be bullied once at ANLC and my oldest is an 8th grader! So the "rampant bullying" comment is also absurd. Seems there is a propensity to exaggerate the negative experience of one child and draw inaccurate conclusions about an entire school. If your child is ready to learn, ANLC is a wonderful environment where learning is celebrated. If your child is in in need of more discipline, then Veritas is just down the street!
As a parent and professional who has worked with countless schools, I can easily state that the commitment of education at ANLC is beyond that I have ever experienced elsewhere. It is not a school for every child and I am convinced that those who rated this school low had different expectations than what the school could deliver. It's main goal is to create self-motivated, self directed learners. Teachers look at what is in the best interest of the child. Even with the ridiculous demands imposed by the state and district, (class size, testing, new rules), ANLC is working to hold true to it's origin. I have never seen a school which embraces students, parents and staff members to do what is in the best interest of the child. Spend some time attending one of the Celebrations of Learning and you'll know what I mean. ANLC is a leader is progressive education. SUSD's standards based report cards were started at ANLC over 20 years ago! Enrichment class, projects, differentiated learning, independent projects, - they've been doing it for decades.
We did a lot of research before enrolling our 1st grader in public school. We chose ANLC because of the educational philosophy, the sense of community, diversity, and child-centered environment. As a non-conformist, I liked the fact that the kids were not expected to walk in lines. As it turned out, it was a really rough experience for our child, who felt unsafe, lost, unclear on the expectations, routines, and schedules. Chaos. He cried every single day in class and felt harassed by other students. I spent time in the classroom and was underwhelmed by the quality of the instruction. Class size was enormous and there were many high needs students, but only one teacher. I learned that our child needs structure/sense of order, clear expectations, and some nurturing...and he didn't get those at ANLC. That said, I was impressed by my interactions with the administration and have several friends who have had fantastic experiences at ANLC. It's all about finding the right match between classroom/teacher and student needs. Could be a great school with a mediocre classroom teacher.
This is not your school if you are not among the gifted or self motivated. The idea of a K-8 school a good one, howver the Progressive Learning Environment doesn't work well for the student needing structure. Many of ANLC's graduates are not well prepared for high school and spend precious hours "catching up".