This is a safe place to share your honest opinions of a school, whether good or bad.
Posted April 10, 2015
- a parent
Our 3 daughters graduated from Wildwood. They loved going to school and getting a top education. We're so grateful for the extraordinary educational community at Wildwood, and we've found them to be 100% available for the students. Our daughters have become critical thinkers with big hearts who went on to exceptional colleges and felt ready to take on their passions in life.
We graduated all 3 of our daughters from Wildwood. We LOVE it. It is an extraordinary, magical, rigorous, engaging, academic community. The teachers are uniformly outstanding. The heads of school are smart, available and forward-thinking. The parent body is warm, wise + welcoming. The young women our daughters have become are exceptionally WHOLE, informed, funny and academically-impressive young adults. All have graduated from or are attending top-tier colleges (including an Ivy). Their academic prowess continues to impress. My wife + I attribute a great-deal of our children's success to their experience at Wildwood. It is a magical place... filled with extraordinary people.
We have had some great years with great teachers at the lower school, and some bad years with bad teachers. We have just learned, from this website, that the upper school is switching to a "tracked" system. Pretty scary, because Wildwood's greatest weakness is working with the individual needs of children. The culture is dominated by a self-congratulatory clique of elite families who dictate the tone and acceptable discourse. I am sure that all of their children will find themselves on the high track, though. In our experience, the school leadership is wise and positive, but actually quite unresponsive to most parents. Wildwood is a special school. But get ready to take your lumps if you are an ordinary family who has to work hard to afford the tuition. They will let you in, but you will never be a member of the club, and your kid will just have to wait her turn for a good teacher and endure the bad ones. You should never complain at Wildwood. They discourage that. Wildwood is a capitalist reserve in a commune's clothing. There are some gifted teachers. But to survive Wildwood -- you go along to get along.
We are what are referred to as "lifers" at Wildwood. Our children began in Kindergarten, matriculated through the Pods, Lower School and now are currently in Middle and Upper School. We could not be happier with the education, philosophy, administration and community at Wildwood School. Their progressive education philosophy, has encouraged our children to be self-starters and independent learners. They know how to advocate for themselves, understand their strengths and stretches and strive to nourish their curiosity for learning and knowledge. The Gateways are mini-dissertations in themselves. I believe it's extremely rare for a 14 year old to assess their education in a public forum, with careful thought, insight, a power-point presentation. The rigorous curriculum in peppered with community service, electives, and Internships. (Wildwood is one of 15 schools in the Nation with an Internship program...fantastic experience.) We are proud of the education that our children are receiving.
We love Wildwood. We love its commitment to best practices and its pedagogical modernity. I think a comment posted below needs clarification: our Upper School (high school) director is wonderful, heads up an academically rigorous and progressive program and is not leaving. Our current middle school (junior high) director is leaving our city for a job in his hometown. While we are sad to see him go, our dynamic Head of School will no doubt make another smart, visionary hire, like he has been doing for years. I am happy to report that Wildwood is a strong and committed community of intelligent and creative students, innovative faculty, and supportive administration; and it has rigorous, academic, research-based, pedagogically progressive programs in place that serves students well as they journey from the elementary school, to middle school, to upper school, and into the college years and beyond.
We have been at Wildwood 9 years thus far. Each stage of academic and personal development is articulated in the curriculum and requires not only the student to rise to the challenges of growth and learning, but this system also requires the parent to gently "release" their child gradually so that the child may develop an authentic understanding of self, start to take more responsibility for their learning and develop their own voice. This is especially true in middle school where they leave the cozy nest of elementary school and start the exciting, adolescent work of individuation and finding their unique passions. This is a place where students are encouraged to take risks and learn how to make mistakes successfully. Academics become more challenging, and that is a good thing. Homework is relevant and projects demand not only application and mastery of content, but also teach the emotional and social skills so important throughout life. Executive functioning skill sets are also emphasized, especially at the middle school level. Our child is thriving at Wildwood.
WW upper school is currently very troubled. The mid-year switch to a tracked system in the MS has the parent body turning against itself (those with kids in the fast track mostly support it, those in the slower tracks mostly do not), and so far, the search to fill the open director spot with someone who has the vision and experience to unite the school seems bleak. The large number of families applying out this year could turn out to be the best thing for WW, though, if the exodus leaves behind a more unified parent and student body. The school keeps failing in its attempt to be everything to everyone: both progressive and rigorous/college prep; inclusive of learning challenges as well as giftedness. But it could be a really great place if it honed its identity and just tried to do one thing really well.
While our family LOVED the elementary school, we have been confused, underwhelmed and ultimately disappointed by the middle school. The lack of communication from both administration and teachers is a major problem. Too much emphasis is currently being put on the new sports program and not enough on curriculum. The recent announcement about the middle school director leaving has families feeling anxious.
Wildwood is a school that looks absolutely amazing on the outside, but is struggling internally because of incompetent leadership. A teacher there who also happens to be a friend said that the ship is sinking, and everyone is abandoning it. I currently have kids both at the elementary and middle. My older son is having a horrible year at the middle school. We recently found out that their non-responsive middle school director will not be here next year leaving behind a math program that Is currently in shambles. Almost EVERY 6th grade parent is upset at the current STEM program. The math class was combined with science which sounds great on paper, but the end result is a watered down program that does not teach either subject well. My son along with the majority of his class had the BEST math experience of his life last year with a once in a lifetime teacher (Alan Yu) who left to focus on his own STEM school in West Los Angeles. Alan was also a parent there and his own daughter no longer attends the school. Many of the current families are applying to different schools for 7th grade for their children. Both of my boys will not be returning next year.
We have 2 children currently attending Wildwood School and find the curriculum to be stimulating, challenging, and rewarding for both of them. The school's progressive approach towards learning is perfect for them in that they're better students when they are able to have a hands on approach. They've become better problem solvers because they're not afraid to fail and they're consistently stretched out of their comfort zones. We are very fortunate to have teachers and administrators that truly care for our children.