There seems to be some confusion circulating on this site about SBMS--this, a somewhat difficult form of communication to moderate or even consider for accuracy or information. Despite its shortcomings, there is in this "greatschools" site this opportunity for a school official to respond to 'reviews' of the school. So, after reading one of these negative reviews my response is, "You must be kidding, right?" I mean, as founder (along with my wife and fellow teacher) I have been, at times, described by others as 'The Great Communicator.' Since I am responsible for the school's written communications, its text for websites, weekly bulletins, monthly newsletters, as well as video and other presentations, I take personal, as well as professional pride in all of SBMS's communicatons--to have it suggested that there is 'little communication' with parents at SBMS is, well, it's silly. Certainly, there are aspects of any school's programs that can be misconstrued, or mis-understood, and as a Montessori teacher and administrator over the past 40 years I've had parents and families occasionally express their confusion as to how "Montessori" works--'What does my child do all day, I don't get it?' is a familiar refrain, because a real 'Montessori' program doesn't look like a traditional school's classroom. In fact, 'parent education' in a Montessori school is essential for the school's programs to succeed with the children--the parents' understanding is vital to their child's classroom success. So, this review claims, "There is very little communication with the parents..." Really? The review also claims, "Lack of parent participation... high attrition rate..." Really? SBMS, now in its 36th year, may want to address these issues, otherwise the school's long list of alumni families and students, especially those attending our local high schools, or colleges and universities, including Harvard, UC Berkeley, Stanford, UCLA, USC, UCSB, or those developing their own businesses, or living and studying around the world, or contributing to this and the global community with their skills and expertise--they may all want to reconsider their time at a school where creative thinking, hands-on learning, and project-based activities fill each day in preparation for an appreciation for learning as an individual and in collaboration with others. As a parent, if you want to find out why and what the truth is about SBMS, drop by any time, my door is always open; I'd be proud to show you what a Montessori school looks like, and if you have the time I'll gladly explain why I think it's the type of educational experience you've always promised to provide for your child.
December 21, 2010
This is a safe place to share your honest opinions of a school, whether good or bad.
I read the reviews here before applying. I was concerned given some of the negative reviews. I also heard negative reviews from two parent's of the school's administration. Given all of this, it shouldn't surprise me the way things turned out. I called and spoke to the school's director before we started anything to ask if they would have space for the upcoming school year. I was told they would have space if everything worked out during the application process. We went through the application process in a relatively short amount of time and then waited weeks to hear back from the school. When we finally heard back (after we left messages), we learned that the school had been too busy with their fundraiser to look at the application and that now that they were looking at it, they might not be able to proceed as they are trying to downsize their space (and presumably have less students). Really?! Needless to say, after all of the time and effort spent going through their application process, and all of the time, love, and effort my son's teachers put into the required recommendations, I was very upset. I felt that the way we were treated was callous considering how serious we had been about enrolling our son. Everyone involved on our side totally wasted their time, and I feel that the administration was not transparent with us about their situation sooner. If this is what it's like to work with them, clearly, we would not want to send our child to this school as we were totally misled earlier during school visits and follow-up conversations. I also feel that they knew this when they asked for the recommendations given the timeline we were given for when they said they were aware of the potential downsizing. I am sorry we ever wasted our time on this school and can concur with the negative reviews of the administration. I would not bother with this school ever again (and I have other, younger children!). The only decent thing is they are supposedly going to refund our application fee. They can't refund our time...
My grandchildren have been going to SBMS 10 years. They are in the Junior High program at the school (7th,8th,9th) and my husband and I honestly couldn't be happier. They are so academically prepared and have loved going to school every single day! The Montessori method is understood and utilized at this fine school. The teachers also place a strong emphasis on emotional development, problem solving, and community building. They work with children on social skills and working together in groups to create and develop their projects and follow up work to lessons. I so appreciate that they are in an environment where they feels safe, heard and respected. The Montessori learning materials help the children truly understand concepts as they go from the concrete to the abstract . These materials and the teachers that introduce them with so much enthusiasm and excitement create truly extraordinary, as well as, beautiful classroom environments. I also like the multi-age aspect. There is so much inner mentoring going on in the classrooms. We are so happy with SBMS and would encourage anyone to check out this school for their child/ren. Submitted by a parent
If zero stars were an option, I'd give it. There is definitely a favoritism in this school (as a reviewer stated below). Whoever gives the most money is it. The communication between teachers and parents is very minimal. Basically, if it doesn't have to do with their fund raising efforts, you don't hear much about how your child's progress. They do not welcome parents to help in the classrooms- as a matter of fact, they discourage it. I think it says something if the "official of the school" feels the need to "lash out" on this website at the negative reviews. Sadly, this school has given Montessori education a bad name.
Excellent school! Don't believe the naysayers. SBMS is the school you wished you went to growing up. Warm loving environment. Solid education based on proven methods. We have been at SBMS for 5 years and feel blessed to have found the school. We are a modest family and have found no favoritism to any children or families. We have always felt welcomed and part of the community. A fundamental part of SBMS is 'follow the child', to tailor the learning to the child's interests. But also 'a child needs freedom within limits' Therefore if a child's interests is in hitting other children, SBMS might not be for you. SBMS has high expectations of your children and you should too. These expectations are not just grace, courtesy, but also actual learning. I saw some results from last years standardized tests: For every level SBMS was 2-4 grade level ahead. Meaning SBMS 1st graders were testing as 3rd to 5th graders in other schools. And SBMS does not even focus the tests. You can ask the HOS for details. From my own experience, my 5 yr old was reading and addition (with carry) in the 1000s. My 6 year old was loving his multiplication work. SBMS is a great school producing great results!
There are so many things to say about this school I don't know where to begin. I'll bring up a few topics I feel to be the most important for people to be aware of. Our previous Montessori school was very community oriented with dynamic teachers, and a lot of family supportand warmth, but we never really felt accepted at SBMS. It felt like there was favoritisim among the staff and children of the elite families. The favored children were never disciplned while children who "weren't choosing work" had to sit in chairs all morning and stare into the corner. In this day and age? Really? It was never even considered that maybe the "work" just wasn't that interesting. This was quite contrary to our previous experience, where we were encouraged to appreciate our child's personality and interests, whatever they may be. While certanly charming to look at and lovely, SBMS seems really behind the times to us as far as actual education. If you do tour this school, ask a lot of questions and weigh the answers carefully. Assuming all Montessori schools to be similar in discipline and education style (as well as education level of teachers), we were shocked to find out how untrue this is.
The true measure of a school is in the people it produces. At the end of the school year, during the "flying up" ceremony, each and every graduate from SBMS's Erdkinder (7th-8th grade) class gives a speech. It's a joyful day, and a sad day -- a day I've seen each year since my daughter was 4. Every single speech was inspiring, and each young man and young woman was remarkable. I can't quantify my measurement, or make a comparison with other schools based on it -- but for me, a dad, seeing the results with my own eyes has been invaluable. At the end of this school year, I will watch my daughter give her speech. It will be joyful, capping a remarkable decade of her growth and learning. And it will be sad. Santa Barbara Montessori does not offer a 9th grade class.
Our experience at SBMS began 6 years ago and we could not be happier. The experience and opportunity that our children have on a daily basis are extraordinary. The education is like no other. To see what my children are capable of at 8 and 5 years old is remarkable! Most importantly, it has been so gratifying to witness the confident, caring people that our daughter and son have become - we owe this in large part to their experience at SBMS. Thank you, Jim, for giving our children this gift!
Our children are receiving a truly remarkable education at Santa Barbara Montessori, perhaps just as importantly, they come home from school every day happy and confident. They are growing as individuals and receiving one of life's best lessons: that learning is fun, it's interesting, and it is its own reward.
We have been at SBMS for 4 years now and could not imagine our child any place else. Our daughter loves to learn, loves to go to school, loves her teachers, simply loves everything about it. All the staff are qualified, extremely passionate, caring and committed. We see what our daughter is doing, who she is becoming and we have SBMS to thank for so much of that. The education your child will receive is like no other in town. And trust me, we did our research. It you are curious at all about trying out a non-traditional approach to education, this is a school worth looking into. Both my husband and I wish we were given this opportunity as children.