My child has attended SMAA for two years now. I diligently searched many private schools throughout Orange County before deciding on SMAA. We have been pleased with our selection. The teachers genuinely care about the students. The administration is always trying to improve the quality of the education. The parents are very involved. The school invests in the facilities and teachers to provide quality education for the students. The school also promotes a sense of community which we really value. Overall, I don't think you will be disappointed sending your child to SMAA.
I can't believe this school does not have 5 stars. There is no better K-8 school in Orange County. The programs, the curriculum, the faculty, the IB program. The school incorporates all aspects of children's best learning. There is an excellent fine arts program too. The gym is right out of a movie it's so great. I have 3 children. One graduated 2 years ago and was more than adequately prepared for high school. I have a current 6 th grader and 2nd grader. It is truly a great, great school!
St. Mary's has far exceeded our expectations for our children, in a number of ways, and we could not be happier with our school. We have a child in each division,, and in our three years here each of our children has been inspired, stretched, and appropriately challenged. The IB curriculum, with its inquiry-based, student centered approach, has strengthened their knowledge base as well as their abiltiies to think critically, collaborate with others, and creatively solve problems. They have also benefited from the rich offerings in the arts, athletics, world languages, and other enrichment opportunities. Just as importantly, they have made many good friends, are so happy, and look forward to school every day. The teachers are passionate and dedicated, and we just received word from the school that over 70% of them hold advanced degrees. We did our homework three years ago and visited a number of other private schools in the area. We could not be happier with our choice of St. Mary's as the best school and community for our children.
This school has a big price tag with little return. We selected St. Mary's because we thought that the IB education would give our children a better advantage over traditional learning methods. We were sadly mistaken. The academics that St. Mary's is providing the children is well below standards. When questioned parents are told to "trust" that they have selected the best curriculum for your children. St. Mary's and their Head Master make it very clear that they run their school like a business. They make the rules and if you don't like it you can go somewhere else. We are greatful that we figured this out early enough to make a difference in our childrens future education.
I have been a parent at St. Mary's School for over ten years and am so grateful for the amazing education my children have received. Not only are the teachers and staff excellent, but the community of the school has always been warm and inviting. The IB curriculum has helped form my kids into inquisitive learners who are always excited to come to school. Though my kids are happy to be on summer break, they are already looking forward to the next school year. St. Mary's is an amazing school!
My child attended St. Mary's for two years (grade 3 and 4)- she had excellent grades while attending St.Mary's. We were not happy with the school or teachers, and were shocked to find that she was unprepared mathematically for the public school system. So much was skipped over, it was a huge waste of money.
This review is not for the faint of heart. Like many others, we had high expectations for St. Mary's. My siblings and I all attended private Jesuit schools and wanted to raise our children with the same academic upbringing. We've been disappointed with St. Mary's agenda. It's clear St. Mary's is more focused on money than education. The proof statements: 1) Head Master made a direct point to me that this school is a business, 2) teachers told me this school is not intended for dual income parents, 3) academic calendar is shorter than public schools which are suffering cutbacks and furloughs, 4) countless fund raising events, 5) requesting donations from grandparents during their school tour. As you can see, it's important to do your own due diligence. If you place a higher emphasis on exclusivity over academics, then this school is an option.
The interview process at this school is a joke. My 5 year old son was denied admittance for tapping his pencil during the interview. They suggested we get him "occupational therapy". Our son excels academically and has never had a behavioral issue at school. After his denial we decided to put him in Montissoree and could not be happier that things played out the way that they did. Their academics at St. Mary's are fair at best, as demonstrated by our sons reading capacity since his time at Montissoree vs his friends at St. Mary's. The level of education this school is providing is on par with the local blue ribbon schools but costs $14k more. For the money Montessori is a much better choice. Our opinion of course...
This is my second year at St. Mary's and I am currently an eight grader. My experience was amazing because I moved from another country and it was hear sometimes getting used to the situation however the teachers are so kind and the education at St. Mary's is amazing. I am placed in an honors math level and I got to experience great leadership at St. Mary's. I am a straight A and honors student and everyone gets confused right... but the teachers are always there either after school or during lunch or you can always email them and ask your questions and they will always email you back. Its a great school and I wouldn't have wanted to go anywhere else.
It is our 3rd year at St. Marys and the school continues to amaze me. I love to hear about my son's day and what he is learning. He is always excited and gone are the days of figting about homework. He completes his homework with a friend before I even pick him up. The cost of the schooldoes continue to go up, but so do the amazing opportunities for the students. I worry about not being able to afford the school all the way to 8th grade but it is such an amazing school that I will sell Avon or Tupperware just to make sure he can stay. The community of administrators, teachers, and families is so strong that it feels like home whenever we are there. Not many schools can say that. I am always excited when I can volunteer and help. All that being said, visit the schools you are interested in. Find the school that best fits your child. Just because St Mary's is the best school for my son, it may not be for yours. Just use your gut. It's not often wrong. Good luck in your search!
I am considering this school, being new to the area--but the reason I rated it 5 stars is for 2 reasons: * A couple of professors at Santa Margarita High School told me that this school prepares them well with the IB Programme (Sta. Margarita was voted #21 of ALL private High Schools in the nation by the Washington Post), so I believe them. * IB is not an easy certification to get, you can't just open up a school and suddenly offer the IB, you have to qualify and they have very rigid guidelines. Every single private school we have been to has a group of people who are not happy, so I would judge a school based on what your child needs, where they excel and where they are happy. This world is not just based on Academics but on how we prepare our children to be future leaders/problem solvers and to make a difference in the world - and happily so. :)
We have recently enrolled our daughter at the school and found the process to be extensive but are delighted with the friendliness of the faculty and the Campus is stunning . The passion of the teaching staff is evident and the inclusion of parents in community hours with in the school will pay dividends . The only caution is the school is not shy for add ons , snacks , extended care , shorter days and semesters all up . Well worth investment however
This is our second year at St. Mary's and we continue to be impressed with the level of education our children are getting. With two children in Kindergarten and one in preschool we have the benefit of seeing the IB program and how it works in both the Lower School and Preschool. In both areas we are blown away. Our children come home from school excited and enthusiastic about what they are learning and my husband and I often find ourselves wishing we could be attending school alongside them just so that we could participate in the wonderfully creative and hands on learning experiences they have the opportunity to experience. The Headmaster has set the tone at St. Mary's and is doing a fabulous job in leadership. The teachers are warm and communicative. The science lab, language offerings, art program and chapel experience round St. Mary's out to be an overall fantastic place. We love that families are not only encouraged to spend time volunteering on campus but that they are welcomed with open arms. We couldn't be more pleased and can say this after having been at a more well established and more expensive private school not far from St. Mary's.
We recently moved to California from out of state and chose St. Mary's based on their unique combination of an IB curriculum offered within a christian focused community. We have three boys in 1st, 3rd and 5th grade. We were confident an IB academic focus at a christian based school would be an ideal learning environment. However, within in relatively short period, St. Mary's has exceeded our expectations. We are already witnessing the positive impact this school is having on all three of our boys. It is evident at numerous levels that the administration, staff and teachers are not only passionate about education but they truly enjoy and love children. All of their teachers are teaching their subjects in creative and interesting ways that foster a love of learning. Equally important, they are teaching critical skills to help their students conquer their subjects. As a result, our boys are thriving academically and becoming more confident as students. As for adjusting to a new school, are boys are thrilled to be at St. Mary's. Their teachers are loving and the students and their parents have been equally loving. We feel most fortunate to have our boys at St. Mary's!
This is our 4th year at St. Mary's and each year we are amazed with the addition of new programs and enhancements. Most other schools remain stagnant or suffer program cuts and each year St. Mary's grows in excellence. The IB program is so valuable and I am confident it is preparing my children for this constantly changing world. St. Mary's fosters creativity and independent thinking. My children are so grateful to attend St. Mary's.
I have 2 children at this school and I couldn't be happier with the level of education! The teachers continue to educate themselves and work with their staff to be the best they can be. We are an IB World school with the best principals and headmaster in the area. It is a wonderful, nurturing and challenging environment for my kids to grow and become leaders of the future. I highly recommend touring and speaking with members of our community. I'm so thankful we have found this school!
Our family has been at St. Mary's for 8 years, and witnessed a lot of changes! I have to say the school has come a long way! While the IB influence is definitely not up to European standards (hard to find IB trained teachers) the IB curriculum does make a difference; the biggest being teaching critical thinking skills vs rote memorization of facts, and global awareness. This to me is a more "real world" application of education. St. Mary's is truly a community of involved families and make the school a special & fun place to be. The kids are taught skills way beyond textbooks, like leadership, risk taking, & community service...
I am thrilled to share that St. Mary's more than my my expectations as a parent with its promsie to thoroughly prepare my children for high school and instill a lifelong love of learning in a warm, caring environment with dedicated and passionate teachers and staff. I have had three children graduate from St. Mary's (one is in college and two are in high school) and all three are thriving in their respective academic environments. In fact, they still comment about how well prepared they felt entering high school, paving the way for success in Advanced Placement and International Baccalaureate Programs. I give St. mary's my highest endorsement, and from what my friends tell me, enrollment at St. Mary's is so strong they have wait lists all over the place. I am not surprised.
I have been a student at St. Mary's for four years. I in the 8th Grade now and will graduate in June. The past four years at St. Mary's have been incredible for me. I have had the best teachers I could ever hoped to have had. They are passionate about their subjects and while they challenge us to push ourselves, they also care about us people and really get to know us. In addition to our core courses we also have Chapel, PE, art, music , performing arts, competitive athletics, and other electives like Model UN, Yearbook, digital filmmaking, and more. I will be very sad when I graduate but I know that I will be well prepared in whatever high school I attend. I also love to learn and I have to thanks St. mary's for all of this.
The school has high standards but their teachers do not make up for their standards. As a parent, I had to spend more time with my daughter so she can achieve their goals. What is the point of paying for a private school if I have end up being my daughter's teacher? We moved her to public school and we are extremely happy. Save your money and put your child in public school.
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