My son and I are new to Van Gogh Charter and I have to admit I love this school!! The parents are very active in the success of their children and this school truly feels like an amazing community. My son's teacher as well as the Principal and staff are exceptional. I have had a wonderful experience so far and look forward to the continued success of my son at Van Gogh Charter!!!!
I am very happy with the principal, teachers, and the staff. I am very glad to have such a great school in my neighborhood where some of our students live very far but since our school is so great they don't mind it.
This school has been on cruise control for a few years. The previous advances came with a forward-thinking principal who retired two years ago, and the new principal simply goes through the motions. Overnight field trips, the standard in high performing schools, were cancelled without consulting parents--because they're inconvenient. The kids at this school are generally high performing, so the question is how much is the school adding to what they already come in with? New test scores will surely show a drop, and it no longer feels like a school-family partnership. The school is safe, and the families do support the school, but the lack of LAUSD funding limits options. Look under the hood because it's not all it seems.
10 is an honest grade for this school's past performance. From the age of glory, we have descended into the age of decline. As other parents said, we can especially feel this in the way that parents are not welcomed as peer contributors in the school-family partnership. This is an unforgivable mistake, since families are the most tenacious supporters of the school. Administration is in denial. The school could not rely on such high performing students and hefty donations without the constant parents' support. Once the school-families trust is broken, children cannot count on a thriving community that works to promote their goals. Besides, true learning does not come from studying to the tests, which is becoming a dismal practice. Innovation in education has not reached most classrooms on campus. Drilling test concepts on a daily basis and spending too much time on overly showy displays for Open House does not make for a good education and happy students. Shows do not impress parents who know what truly happens during a year of "learning". Caring and invested teachers would be much more impressive and respected. Silence has replaced the sound of joy.
Schools are as good as their teachers and principals. Most parents are still missing previous principle. Current principle gave us a first decent year, then started offering less while more money was being raised. She does not know her students and is inflexible. The morale has taken a big dive. If you have heard that Van Gogh offered music and art, second grade must be the cut-off year. Otherwise, you have to pay for these, after school. There are a few great teachers who reach out to children by meeting their needs, and if you are lucky you will get them, but overall the teaching style is not creative or innovative. Inflexibility reigns. Third grade is an early trip to college for most students, who are suddenly required to grow many years beyond their age for no valid reason. Don't worry: kids are allowed to go back to childhood in the fourth grade. Third grade is a nightmare that nobody likes to talk about, and some of the teachers here seem more suited for different professions, where they won't be given the power to scar little kids for a long time. Children are overall polite. Last, watch out for the rotten air quality at our school: Landfill alert!
I would not recommend this school to anyone. The teachers here have always been mediocre, at best (while they are 10, their similar school rating is dismal). What made this school worthwhile years ago was the community environment. Currently, the environment is toxic, and it is getting worse every day. Avoid the misery-find another school for you and your children.
It is obvious that the review from Nov. 5th is not a parent of a third, fourth, or fifth grader. Those of us who are can tell you that for an upper grade student, these overnight field trips are something they had been looking forward to for years. Let's not forget that starting in second grade (or maybe even 1st), fundraisers take place to help the students pay for these overnight trips. Even though it may not be "written" anywhere, that's what parents and students have been told all along. We understand that teachers cannot be forced to go on these trips, yet when these teachers sign up for these grade levels they know that these trips will be part of their assignment because that's what is done at Van Gogh. If the teachers were not happy with these trips, they should have spoken up long ago so that it could have been phased out little by little. What hurts me the most is that it is clear that for the teachers and administrators, the last thing on their minds is the student. They are playing with the students' emotions and that seems to be of no concern to them.
It's unfortunate that the previous reviewer's personal agenda colored their review and led them to throw an entire school under the bus, teachers and administrators included. While there was a change to the fourth and fifth grade overnight field trips, the field trips are still going on. The only change is that they are no longer going to be overnight due to liability issues. The rest of the field trip has not changed. It is both unfair and inaccurate to imply that this is because the field trips are in any way inconvenient to the teachers. The teachers have valid concerns. How does removing only the overnight component change the school's test scores? It doesn't. It is simply that there has been a change and the only way some parents know how to deal with it is to lash out and be disrespectful.
I agree with the last review. Although it is a decent school set in a lovely residential neighborhood, the school is definitely overrated. I have two children attending the school and they are content, but one of them is GATE and has been bored and there is no real GATE program for my child to thrive in. The other child is also very bright and was not challenged at all last year and spent the majority of the year bored. Their after school programs are mediocre and although they do have a school orchestra which children can enroll in for a hefty fee, without extra private lessons it isn't really worth it. Even with a new principal last year, I didn't see an improvement in the quality of the school with the exception of safety rules being enforced more regularly.
Thank you Ms.Stage for caring about my daughter. You are gentle, yet able to teach in a way that the kids enjoy learning. My daughter is truly excited to learn and has done well because of your gentle push.