The two way immersion (TWI) at Gates has been an extremely valuable experience. We find that teachers are organized and keep students engaged. School spirit is high and students seem to want to be at the school. I recommend Gates as a school.
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.
Principal lacks principles of honesty and fairness. Just this past school year, I know a party who accepted a one day sub assignment for kindergarten @ Gates Elementary , Lake Fores, CA. Though an English only speaker this party wanted to experience an immersion program thinking there would be an aide to help facilitate the day. There was not. That morning she learned much , including boards , etc. is in Spanish. Furthermore, core instructional time was mainly Spanish weaving some English. The morning teacher offered to be primary afternoon teacher clearing it with office. Principal should had known this before she demeaned this sub. This party enjoyed the children assisting with instructional and craft times leaving with a positive feeling for day. Was more beneficial for students that Spanish speaking teacher was lead teacher for day. Both teachers worked well together. Despite what her office approved for that instructional day, she completed a report demeaning this sub teacher's efforts that day including accusing this party of making a complaint about not understanding plans, Obviously, Principal did not take time to learn what her office approved , this means who is lead teacher for that day, Her report was very personal, demeaning, inaccurate, and accusing this party of a comment is just sheer deformation of character. It is concerning that this principal is without principles.
Love this school! I most appreciate the true diversity at this campus with families from every ethnic group, family make up, economic position and native language all coming together in a very positive way.
I can't say enough good things about Gates. I am in the unusual position of having two kids in the immersion program and one in the regular English program. All of their teachers have been nurturing and wonderful! My second grader is capable of doing all of his homework in spanish by himself, despite the fact that we have no native speakers at home. I have had close interactions and meetings with both the principal and the new vice principal and find them both professional and looking out for the best interests of my child. The fact that they are both busy (and therefor seem unavailable/unapproachable when dropping by the office) is irrelevant to me, as the most important thing is that they were there for my child when it really mattered. The English program academics are on the very low side for the district, which reflects the socio-economic status of the neighborhood. The PTA is amazing.
There are some really great teachers here, and some mediocre. My daughter is in second grade here, and so far we are very glad that she is going to Gates. There is plenty of diversity, and I do not believe any one school can have it all. The principal does not seem friendly or approachable, but often times I realize appearances can be misleading. Over all I think it's a great dual immersion program, and I like how the parents seem invested and interested in their children, but like any other school, it has it's cons as well.
My son entered into the two way immersion program this Fall at Gates elementary. I don't know yet how the rest of the school is, but i am thoroughly impressed with my son's teacher and the enthusiasm and involvement of the parents in the immersion program. I have tried in the past to contact the principal but to no avail as it seems she is extraordinarily busy. This is one of the things that does concern me as i wonder how responsive she will be to requests for a meeting should any future issues arise during our child's attendance at Gates. Overall though, i am pleased with the quality of the two way immersion program here.
In July of 2012, my family moved to Tustin from San Jose where my oldest attended a Dual-Immersion Language School for Kindergarten. So, it was utmost important that I find a similar school as good or better. Gates Elementary has exceeded that expectation. From the moment I walked into the office approximately one month before school began to place my son on the waiting list to the moment I received a call that he had been accepted. From the moment of his first day of school when the principal provided a personal escort to his class to the moment I met his 1st grade teacher with whom I knew my son would be nurtured and strongly guided in his further acquisition of the Spanish language. And to all the moments through the end of the year, Gates has lived up not only to my expectations but the high standards it sets for itself! There is no other school I would want my oldest son and subsequently my youngest son to attend. My goals for my children are to be bilingual, biliterate and bicultural as well as succeed academically in a traditional program. Which means more than ranking by state scores that don't provide a world wide advantage to children as other countries do. GATES rock!!!
I have been in this school for about 7 years. I had a great experience here at Gates. I am in the immersion program and I will hopefully continue until high school. The school over all is awesome from the assemblies to learning, it's all FUN! Yes some may say things about the principal, but it is amazing that she learns everyone's name. She started the same year I started going to that school. Teachers I have had, have been the best from patience to making learning easy! I am glad Gates was my school!