August 12, 2015
I have 2 children in the immersion program. Everyone raves about it simply for the fact that their kids are excelling at a 2nd language. While I believe that to be commendable, I find the academics are lacking at the school. Math is mediocre at best with many teachers clearly uncomfortable with the subject. The writing program is also very underwhelming. I was deeply shocked at the inability of several 6th graders to write a simple paragraph or letter. Some teachers are effective, but many aren't.
In addition, the principal is very unprofessional. She is very unapproachable, defensive and scatter brained in her demeanor. Mrs. Estling doesn't know the kids names, only knows a few parents, is never walking the campus during recess or lunch. I could go on. Now you might think that's a tall order to ask for such a busy principal. Well, other principal's in the district make sure to greet the students and parents at drop off and pick up. This small act ensures the safety of the students, the knowledge that the principal cares, and a welcoming atmosphere where learning takes place.
Every year, we get multiple warnings at Gates about fast driving around campus and how everyone should slow down, however, the principal isn't on campus during those times. She assigns teacher's to stand at certain places around campus. Perhaps the principal should be there alongside the teachers ensuring the safety of the students and getting to know the community that surrounds the school.
Should you bring up any concerns or other issue, Mrs. Estling takes it personally and makes rash decision rather than taking the time to review and professionally respond. It's no surprise the supervisors during lunch and recess are so demeaning to the students....shouting in bullhorns and making them all stand quietly in order because a few didn't follow their orders. Rather than train her staff and create an environment conducive to the learning of the students, this principal stands behind the bully tactics of some staff members. Recess and Lunch time are the students' only break and yet they are subjected to a very punitive environment.
Perhaps, under new leadership, this school can be known not just for the ability of children to learn another language, but a school that promotes community, courage, kindness, and academic prowess.
- submitted by a parent