This is a safe place to share your honest opinions of a school, whether good or bad.
St. Mark's Elementary School5
Posted June 01, 2014
- a parent
Our son has been at St Marks for his entire elementary school years. Though some teacher were better than others, it was overall an excellent experience with several extraordinary teachers in the mix (Mr Johnson & Ms Heidel are true stand-outs). It is also well priced for what you get. We have recruited several families over the years and they are all equally satisfied. Bottom -- an excellent education that teaches good value and is also a good value -- what more can one ask for?
I am a current parent (since 2003) and just had to respond to some of the issues mentioned below. Security is not an issue at the school - the sheriff and fire station are on the next block. A full time security officer would be nice but may be overkill. The head is retiring, but is still visibly engaged with the program and operations. Teachers' styles vary between traditional and modern as they do in ALL schools. Yes, it is expensive but it is a PRIVATE school in the Pasadena area. Come on! I assume Zero Tolerance refers to bullying - again completely off-base. Behavior expectations are very high and homework levels are normal for a private school. It sounds like the previous poster was just very angry. I cannot at all identify with her experience.
Lacking in security big time. Some teachers are not progressive and probably need to leave. Head of school is leaving however checked out 2 years ago. More concerned about new computers and iboards and iPads than how fellow students treat one another. Zero Tolerance policy does not apply although its in their policy and would much rather have you leave than deal with those issues. Very expensive and no discount for having more than one child there. Homework is insane and it appears that they are quick to say a child is ADHD rather than thinking perhaps its their curriculum. Not a lot of pluses.
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.
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.