We thought we had won the lottery when our child got into Sycamore. We had heard the stories about the academics not being great and the problems with principle but the caring environment would make up for it's poor performance ratings.
Over the first part of the year, my husband and I tried overlooking our child's noticeably filthy classroom or the fact his teacher was frequently absence due to sickness or "ipad" training. Of course the spreading of ringworm throughout the school got our attention but the principle's note assured us that it was normal at Sycamore. I guess it was also normal for the school to have threatening notes left around campus because we only received one email about that without any follow up – at least it was reassuring that the police were stationed at the school for a few weeks.
The real alarm bells started going off as the school year progressed. While our son was making new friends, with nice parents and bringing home lots of interesting crafting projects, we began to notice he wasn’t advancing academically much from the year before. He seemed stuck and in some areas, like math, was actually going backwards. My mother, who's a teacher from Boston, noticed it immediately when she visited. She decided to volunteer in our son's classroom for a few day and later reported back a complete lack of focus from our son's teacher and little, if any, actual teaching being done. The teacher did have a daily routine but rarely noticed her classroom was in constant chaos. My mother also noted, the teacher didn’t seem to take in individual student’s needs, instead she had a routine that she wasn’t going to delineate from. The teacher made it no secret that she didn’t like teaching “new math” and instead told the parents to go online, download the standardized worksheets and teach it at home.
The second time our son got bullied, we went to the principle who said she’d "look into it and get back to us", she never got back to us. Go Sycamore!
After spending the summer having our son tutored to get academically caught up and then enrolling him into a better school, we can finally breathe a sigh of relief from our Sycamore experience.
Like all parents, we want our child to be healthy, happy, safe and educated. We hope he goes to college and chooses a career that he loves and that is why we couldn’t risk another year at Sycamore.
We have been very happy with Sycamore. The academic standards are high, the teachers are easy to communicate with, the school encourages creativity and critical thinking. When my child was experiencing difficulties with math, I e-mailed the teacher and worked with her over the next few weeks on the strategies to help my child. The teacher encouraged exploring different approaches to solving math problems, and that's what did it for my child. I like the free spirit of the school because my child thrives in it. The school, however, is definitely not the best for children who need more structure for effective learning.
this school puts different age groups in one class which is a good initiative unless the teachers are properly trained. Best way ofcourse would be with a Montessori credential. This is not the case at Sycamore there for it lacks the benefit this multiple age mix could create.
We enrolled our son at Sycamore for one year with high hopes and expectations but ended up moving to Chaparral after a couple of disappointments. Bullying is a problem, as one previous poster mentioned. Of course, kids bully each other in every school from time to time - that can't be avoided. What matters, I think, is how the school handles it, where by 'school' I mean every member of the faculty from the principal on down AND parents. In our case, the problem is that my son was bullied by the child of a couple of parents who were completely unwilling to recognize or let alone deal with the situation and that the administration failed to meaningfully intervene. My son's situation just wasn't a high priority. At the same time, we weren't very impressed with Sycamore's academic quality. I really like the concepts of mixed-age classrooms and all that in principle. Maybe the problem was in the implementation. One way or another, our son just wasn't learning at a speed that I thought he could be learning, and that problem was very quickly eliminated at Chaparral. I don't completely dislike Sycamore, but I don't think it's living up to its potential. Sycamore students deserve more.
I'm glad a couple of you are having good experiences with your child. For us it turned into "home schooling" because the school was more interested in presenting something they viewed as "creative" rather than teaching the students how to read. For us, their priorities were upside down, or, more probably, they didn't know what their priorities were...
Sycamore is a great school, the principal is awesome, ALL the teachers really do care about each individual student they are loving, compassionate, creative and dedicated. The teachers are absolutely amazing, the communication is much better than anything I have experienced with other schools- It is easy to feel a part of a community because parents get involved, there are so many volunteer opportunities, and it is nice to be around so many like-minded, creative and interesting parents.
Sycamore is a great school with children who are independent and taught how to think. Teachers find creative ways to teach standards while encourage students to develop in all areas. The students are kind to one another and do especially well in junior high and high school. You can always tell a Sycamore kid - they are the ones who smile when they think about their elementary school experience