We've had three students attend this school, so we've been an enrolled family for nearly 10 years. Many of the reviews here are accurate - it's a caring/nurturing school that works on very important goals like respect, global/community awareness, etc. Most of the kids are kind and respectful. Teachers know most children by name and seem to genuinely care about them. The campus is lovely (yes, security is lax), parents are hyper involved. But, the teachers are very uneven and there's a big turnover this coming year, which is a good thing. 3rd and 4th grades have suffered in recent years with uneven teachers, and resource teachers are mediocre and rely on tired lesson plans. There seems to be a tremendous effort by the head of school to appear current with all the instructional trends ... ipads in classrooms, field studies, STEAM curriculum, outdoor classrooms. But it's hard to gauge how much benefit this really has for individual students/classrooms, parents don't get much info about how this is helping their children. I don't think Saint Mark's is as "progressive" as these trend adoptions make it seem - most instruction is fairly straightforward and traditional.
Our child has been attending the school since pre-k. I was surprised to see some of the prior/older reviews chastising the head of school and indicating that the teachers/staff fear her. As a SAHM and one that is on campus a lot, I have never seen or heard anything of the sort. Our child is thriving. The campus is clean and well kept (although security could be tighter), there are many resource classes (art, music, science, motor development, Spanish) as well as fee based after school enrichment programs. As a relatively new parent, it is a bit hard to tell how decisions are made (do parents have pull, or only some, does the head of school make decisions unilaterally) but I do feel that my questions and concerns are addressed timely and directly. The class size and teacher:student ratio is low which does allow for more individualized learning, however there does seem to be some resistance to setting apart advanced learners. As with most private schools, there is a requirement to donate and a lot of fundraisers in addition to required parent volunteer hours. All in all, it is a solid school.
Walking onto the St. Mark's campus is like walking into a giant warm hug. This school is fantastic. Our daughter is thriving in this environment. The teachers are so thoughtful and caring. The students are engaged, respectful and polite, not to mention always walking around with smiles on their faces! Science and technology are outstanding, as is the amazing art room. The administration and teachers put significant thought into curriculum and childhood development. As a parent, I really appreciate that St. Mark's stays abreast of current research and ideas relating to education. I feel that my daughter is both challenged and supported in her studies. There is a lot of opportunity to get involved at the school as a parent. I've found all the other parents to be delightful people and have enjoyed every volunteer job I've done. The staff and administration are kind and genuine. One of the delights of the school is the trips for the older students, especially the 5th grade Washington DC trip. This school is a real gem and I am grateful every day that our daughter is a student at St. Mark's.
This school is awesome. It strikes the right balance between progressive and traditional learning approaches. As a "new to the school" parent, I have found the staff open to questions and suggestions and other parents welcoming and down to earth. My son is a kindergartner this year. He is reading, writing sentences and doing advanced math and further developing his "right brain qualities: inventiveness, empathy, meaning, etc. All within the context of becoming a person of integrity. I have found the head of school impressive and approachable. If anything, she runs the school like any leader, respected and loved, tough but fair. Her commitment to the education of the children is tireless. The after school offerings are well rounded and fun. The working parents ratio is much more realistic than other area schools. The unique approach to individualized learning based on each students comprehension level is something you won't see in area public schools. My son's curiosity is encouraged and he has never been criticized for asking to many questions. It is amazing to see how proud the students are of their work. If this is on your list take the tour! You will love art room.
I could not disagree more with the previous comment. I have worked at Saint Mark's for 13 years and have never experienced anything but support from the head or other staff members.
The principal bullies and intimidates the teachers. Most of the staff lives in fear of her. If you want a school that used to be stellar but wants to promote ia fake image of success, this is the place for you.
My husband and I fell in love with Saint Marks last year when we toured and our daughter is now a Kindergartener. We feel so blessed that we found Saint Marks. Our daughter has begun to blossom after only a few months. She is more independent, more thoughtful of others and very excited about learning. While there are worksheets and traditional academics, Saint Marks is teaching her a love of learning through exploration! She attends music, art and Spanish each week. The parents are down to earth and very welcoming. From the book fair to the Halloween parade, there is such a warm and positive feeling among the students, families, teachers and administrators. I know that many parents feel nervous about the fact that Saint Marks ends in 6th grade. This school is worth the sacrifice and it is very apparent when you look at the 6th grade class that they are ready to move on to the next adventure. That adventure will include entrance into the top schools in the Pasadena area including Westridge, Poly and Flintridge Prep. Saint Marks is an absolute gem!
We love and contingue to be impressed with Saint Marks. I have two children there, one who has a slight learning disability, and the school has done amazing things with both, making sure their needs are met and they are worked with in a manner suiting their learnng style. I sit on other boards at two other schools and what I hear over and over is how the "Saint Marks kids" are not only great students and sought after but they are so kind and thoughtful. I could not agree more. Saint Marks treats children with respect and they learn to be high achieving members of the world and give respect back. I love this school and feel lucky to have found it for my children.
Saint Marks is a great school. The graduating class this year had a very high percentage of students who scored in the top percentiles for the standard testing required for middle school admissions. It's considered one of the primary feeder schools to the top private middle and high schools in the area. Dr. Oleson, the director, is dynamic and responsive. She has a passion and commitment which shows through in all aspects ie ranging from academics to technology to various volunteer and charitable efforts. This is a strong community of parents and students.
I just graduated from saint marks last year, (2011), and miss it so much. It is an amazing school with teachers that make learning fun, and a friendly, welcoming community. The facilities are beautiful, and the class trips are incredible. In fifth grade, the students embark on journey across the country to washington D.C, which is wonderfully fun. Saint marks is an amazing school, and should deserve 6 stars, if it existed.
Wonderful community - great kids! Excellent placement for graduates. Offers a variety of resource classes. Well maintained facilities - big grass field and large playgrounds.
I looked at many preschools & kindergartens in the area and my child attended 2 previous schools before we settled on Saint Mark's. From the moment she started, my daughter LOVED this school. She is in kindergarten now and seems so happy and is learning so much, We have had a great experience at St. Mark's and we highly recommend it. It is true that parents are expected to volunteer and to give to various funds, but we have not found it to be any more than with other schools. Also, the faculty and families there have been terrific. We have found it to be a great fit for us.
We have had our children at this school for 5 years so far, and we absolutely LOVE the school. The atmosphere is very friendly and stimulating at the same time. Our kids love the school and are learning amazing academic skills while they are having a great time with friends. The kids at the school are kind and caring. We love the values the school stands for and could not have chosen a school with a better fit for our values.
St Mark's is a wonderful place. Our kids have been here since preschool & consider it to truly be a second home. At other private schools in Pasadena, the volunteer requirements are similar. If you are used to dropping off & picking up your child, with no need to share your time - this will be different. The school prides itself on the involvement of families - but not everyone is that actively involved. Some families go above and beyond the requirements - they are part of what makes this place special. It's an honor to have them on the cutting edge of technology. The students have access to iPads in their classrooms and are being asked to consult other schools on how to implement this environment. Interactive technology: SMART boards & interactive devices are used to ensure that all students are engaged in the learning process. The entire school is dedicated to Differentiated Instruction - focuses on each child learning thru different means. Definitely NOT a school where your child must be "cookie cutter" to excel. Teachers at schools that recruit from St Mark's tell me they get some of the most well-rounded children from here. A unique place that merits a visit, for sure.
I have been a student at St. Marks since P-K and I am now in 5th grade. The teachers, students and families and very nice and supportive. I love the field trips, fund raisers like the Country Fair, and being with friends. In addition to the academics there are fun resource classes such as P.E., art, and music. There are some bad reviews on this site, but I think they are totally wrong. I don't know one student that is unhappy here. I love Saint Marks!
Good, though spotty, academics. Charming campus. Important to determine what you want for your child and family for the long-haul: energy put into connections with and feeding into local expensive, elite, secular schools. Ending at 6th grade is good if these schools are your goal, but difficult for the others who have to apply and attend middle school with students who have been together for years - and then reapply to high school so soon afterward. Episcopal identity and values present in weekly chapel but not in administration or in the classroom, for the most part. School chaplain and church rector are gems, but mostly disconnected from the school Great trips in 4-6th grade. Not much activity after school with average daycare program. Some very energetic and involved parents. Overall, a mixed bag.
Great school, location and campus. Family like atmosphere and dedicated faculty. Teachers are great and willing to help when needed.
Saint Mark's is a great school for my family. My family has not had the chance to experience any of the other great schools in the area, nor do we feel the need. I do not agree with some of the poor reviews on this site. The school does demand that the parents give much of their time. It has been great for myself to spend so many hours at school. We have a true connection with the staff and the other families. I would not want to have my children at a school where parents were not so connected. If you are looking for a great school for your children in the Altadena or Pasadena area, I suggest you consider Saint Mark's. Visit the school during the annual County Fair, and talk to some of the families and the older students.
Our family loves Saint Mark's School. We have been at Saint Mark's for three years and have our two sons here. We will also be bringing our daughter to Saint Mark's. In our first year we were worried about meeting the required volunteer hours. It was very easy and such a great experience. We got to know other families, the staff and administration. The more you put into Saint Mark's the more your family gets out of it. There are some negative reviews on this site. While one school can not satisfy all people, some of the reviews are sad. Dr. Oleson is a treasure and also one donates a large portion of her salary to the annual fund each year. I have found the staff to be very helpful to resolve any problems. The extra fund raising goes to tuition assistance and to pay for the many wonderful field trips that are paid by the school. Those trips include Washington, Philadelphia and Gettysburg. Anyone who has had a bad experience at Saint Mark's will probably have a bad experience at any private school in the area.
The administrators of this very expensive "nonprofit" run the parents ragged, persistently and aggressively pushing for dozens of hours of "volunteer" work and extra "contributions" to pad the school's coffers (not to mention the director's lofty compensation package that topped $285,000 according to their last public filing). Parents dare not slack off for a moment (much less complain) lest they incur the administrators' wrath. Despite its marketing materials, the school does a poor job managing any kids who are not "cookie cutter normal." And the so-called "diversity" they so loudly brag about lags far behind the general Altadena community demographics. The setting is lovely, and there are many wonderful families, but the school's potential for greatness is compromised by the culture of constant fear (and greed).
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