Poor planning runs amok here at SM. First, the name. Is it a Christian school pretending to be non-religious, or a private school without ties to a conservative, Baptist faith? Can't be both.
We came to visit two years ago. Great Headmaster. Signed up. Now we have a Head who has never been the school leader before. And it shows. Poor academics. Poor calendar planning. Awful track record on management and discipline. Silly waste of money on a Dean of Students. He does nothing to help acclimate children into the community if they're not giving large sums of money to the school. PLEASE look ELSEWHERE for the 2016-17 year.
The word among some of the parent is that they charged 4,000 per kid to go to China, France and South America which was too much. The trip should have only cost 2,500 max, where is the rest of the money going to? Is this a school or a business?
My experience from the beginning of engaging with this school was that the administrative staff was cold and taking us on the tour seemed like a huge inconvenience. The early education program leader was curt and extremely cold and at times rude. I then attended a coffee gathering at the beginning of the school year and went out of my way to interact with other women and it was nearly impossible to strike up a conversation. It was very pretentious and snotty. I'm in sales, so I know how to network, but it felt as though I was immediately seen as "not one of them". I put this aside for my child, but then our experience with the pre-k and kindergarten teachers made it worse. They constantly seemed overwhelmed. The pre-K teacher was not much more than a novice baby sitter. The kindergarten teacher was cold, curt, unfriendly and lacked any sincere warmth. Our child enjoyed the school, but the social and community atmosphere was really challenging. There was no sense of community unless there was a secret door or code to getting in. The tuition did rise consistently and there were continuous requests for donations and events. We did not participate because we didn't feel we were part of the community there. From the community perspective, it seemed image, who you know, what you drive, and how many kids you have enrolled there are far more important than genuinely caring about each other and developing meaningful friendships with people you will know and engage with for 8+ years. After looking at other schools, I wish I had done more homework before going to St. Mary's, because I've experienced a dramatic difference in meeting other school administrators and educators. My experience was that St. Mary's was very cold, pretentious, and full of cliques. This doesn't have to do with our net worth, I'm quite sure we are just as financially comfortable as most families there, we just don't use that as a way to belong to a community and make friends. I wish we hadn't wasted our money.
This is a school for SAHM that have a full time job in managing image . It is my sincere wish with the recent changes (or firings) , more Christian values and heart are invested in promoting an accepting Christian community. I respect other comments about their experience with admissions and getting introduced/welcomed to the community. We had a start contrast compared to those families. I understand the strategy was to cater to high income families, I wish I had know this before signing up my children into lower school, we are middle to upper- middle class christian non pretentious family. Although we can afford this school comfortably, we left in spite of the good academics, beautiful campus, good teachers. It is not the environment and values I want to raise my children, they are now in a good cost effective private christian school, and I now see how much Christian values were left behind at St Mary s . This is a beautiful campus and I think they mean well, but they need to figure out what they want to be: 1) school for the rich and wanna be famous, or 2) Good ol' American middle to upper middle class families with Christian Values?
Many families left not only because of the constantly increasing tuitions but the low academics. We had high expectations coming from another private school but were quickly disappointed /disillusioned.. No personal attention to kids in difficulties despite low teacher-students. No personal feedbacks other than the routine teacher meetings at the end of the semester. Unacceptable excuses like "teacher is coaching sports" therefore not available for over 2 months for after school tutoring!! Thank god we realized our kid's level when compared to public schools and took action. Very little return for all high expectations of the "only IB program of OC"...Yes, nice campus but who cares when there is little substance behind? Constant fund raising process!! Perhaps this "business" approach explains why the head of the school was fired this year? Finally our child was bullied all year long and despite multiple complaints not much progress was made. They were not aware nor cared when informed. The amount of "foul language" and inappropriate words with " sexual contents" learned during this year at SMMC deserves a 4 stars rating for the school! Great job of teaching kids Christian values!
We chose St. Mary's over two of the best NB priv schools and have been so happy with our decision. Our child is at the end of her kindergarten year and it's unbelievable to see her growth both academically and socially. Her teachers are passionate and transparent, involving us regularly with regards to her learning/social development. St. Mary's checks all the boxes: Small class size...check! Art, music, science, spanish, STEM, PE...check! Christian enrichment, service learning, focus on values kindness, helping others/the earth...check! Global perspective, IB curriculum...check! Our child had severe separation anxiety entering kinder and it lasted all of one week! Now she LOVES her school and has gained so much confidence. I disagree with the reviews that the school is materialistic and exclusive. We are not "wealthy" but in fact make sacrifices to send our daughter here, and we have NEVER felt out of place or excluded. Just the opposite. One of the things I love about SMAA is the sense of community...that it's not just a "drop off" school...that you walk your kids in and get to know their friend's parents. The best gift you can give your child is a good education.
We came from another private school, Harbor Day to be exact, and this school has been a dream come true. Everything my children so badly needed; a diverse and multi-cultural demographic, an enriching curriculum which didn't bore them to tears with mundane repetition, and happiness.....that key word that makes us parents do anything for our children.....it all has happened here at St. Mary's. The IB program is multi-faceted and allows children to be exposed and take interest in real life issues while learning all about prepositions, math facts, and composition.....all critical to a great foundation. Everything you can imagine is being addressed. The enrichment classes alone were one of our main deciding factors...from football, basketball, soccer, lacrosse, cheerleading, chess, ceramics, dance, literature, language, origami, robotics, and too many instruments to mention....this school is literally like a small college campus. but the MOST amazing thing about the school for us is that they are receptive.....receptive to ideas and receptive to parent's and children's needs. Finally, a private school that listens!
We couldn t be happier with St. Mary s for our 6th grade son. I have been so impressed by the teachers. They are creative in their teaching style not just lectures, notes and a test. In addition, the teachers are available after school if students want extra 1x1 help. Finally, his report cards include several paragraphs from each teacher. The teachers know exactly who he is, how he learns and what he needs to do to reach his potential. In addition, we have been struck by how warm and welcoming the St. Mary s community is. Since he entered as a 6th grader, I expected the transition to be a little rocky, as he was leaving good friends behind at our neighborhood school. Instead, he has been extremely happy since day one. There is a pervasive sense of warmth and kindness from students, teachers, and other families. Finally, the extra-curricular activities are terrific. Our son has joined the after school sports teams. He has played sports he has played for years and tried new ones. It has been a fantastic way to get to know his class-mates, while doing something he loves. And he loves playing for his school so proud to be a Falcon.
Our son has been attending the middle school program since the fall. We came from a public school looking for a smaller classroom experience. St. Mary's has provided more than we could have imagined. The academics are terrific - we were a tad nervous that the IB program and middle school scheduling might prove to be exhausting and overwhelming but we are watching our son thrive. His writing has improved tremendously with a very strong understanding of the fundamentals of structure and an expanded vocabulary. He is well supported in the classroom, online (fabulous interaction from home) and the teachers are very available after school daily. The teachers are passionate and there is a true dedication to each student's success that is heartwarming. Socially, St. Mary's provides a place where kindness and consideration are paramount. The after school sports programs are terrific. As a parent, it is a joy to send my son off to school everyday knowing that he is in a caring environment along with being exposed to thoughtful tools and broad knowledge that are the building blocks to a rich education that he will carry forward for a lifetime.
We rate St. Mary's as Excellent! In reading the last few reviews, I see that some parents may feel differently which is unfortunate. We've been at St. Mary's for a year and chose it because of it's IB program, it's incredible ratings & reputation and their teachers. Those factors still remain constant. As is the case in any school, there are children with behavioral issues of course. Those children are treated in a Christian way with the same love and respect all others are given. They practice the Christian morals they preach daily. Parents that make an effort to be connected certainly are connected. I received a call from a host family immediately upon entering the school and my daughter participates in all the programs the school offers as do I. We are very connected. Our communication with teachers is excellent and my child is flourishing at St. Mary's. We are also a scholarship family so money is not their only focus. We couldn't be happier at St. Mary's school and highly recommend it.