I went to ask some questions about the upcoming school year and after a few minutes discovered I was talking to the principal. She didn't have answers to any, but one, of my questions even though they were all related to the school directly, and her one answer was very snarky. She essentially talks down to you rather than to you, not a great quality in a principal. I was not impressed with her overall sour attitude towards new parents and students. She did not make us feel welcome and my child is now not excited for the first day of school because she believes all the teachers will be "like that mean lady". I also noticed that there were no teachers and very few parent volunteers present, which really made me question a lot of the other comments because community involvement was touted so much. There was also a lack of organization, communication, and efficiency in the mess of lines crowded in front of the office where everyone was. It was a really bad impression/experience and I can only hope it gets better, or we get a new principal who isn't riding such a high horse.
We feel lucky to be at this school and feel that the small community really helps promote an atmosphere of more individualized learning. Some people like to say that this school offers a private school experience in a public school setting, and in some ways this is true. The K-8 culture offers some advantages both for the younger and older kids. In particular the middle school students get more personalized attention because the class size is small enough that the teachers get to know their individual strengths and areas to focus on. The small environment also keeps the emphasis on academics and character development vs. the social politics/teen dynamics that may be more common in big middle schools.
For the most part, my two kids are able to get their work done in less than an hour. They're also learning time management skills in the upper grades, which means they are in charge of pacing themselves throughout the week to get all the work done.
The small setting makes individual behavior more prominent, and the school has a focus on developing these kinds of character traits. When students do run into interpersonal challenges, some teachers hold "town hall" type discussions to facilitate ways the kids can work through issues. The off-site field trips, like the ropes course/teambuilding one also help foster positive culture in the classroom. I see my child thinking through issues and learning empathy, teamwork and respect for others at the same time, which is great.
These reviews are a little misleading. Some positives - the teachers are not bad and gardening class nice - but the high test scores are directly related to the socioeconomics of the area. There is not good funding for this school. There is no art teacher and the music program is constantly in danger of being cut. Classes are overcrowded - most upper classes with 32-35 kids each. Teachers rely heavily on parent volunteers - some even ask parents to grade papers! For the privacy of other families and because parents may not be qualified, they should not be doing this. PTA meetings usually have less than 10 in attendance - and the teachers don't seem to care about the T in PTA. Because of funding issues, families are asked to donate over 300 dollars per student each year. The other fundraiser is an auction where families that bid the most get prizes and special outings - those with less money have no chance. Child supervision on the school grounds is lacking - often only 1 adult. Teachers have expressed a lack of parent volunteers, but teachers should be there to fill in at least! The academics were fine, and our experience here was not terrible. It was just not a 10.