This is a safe place to share your honest opinions of a school, whether good or bad.
Posted August 29, 2014
- a parent
My son attended Curtis for 8 years a couple of years ago , beginning in DK., and now is at Harvard Westlake. My feelings about the school are mixed. On the positive side: :a) beautiful campus b) good sports programs c) overall the teachers , and Mr Smailes the headmaster and the Upper School head at the time , Chris Thinnes, (don't know if he still is there) were very caring people. On the negative side: a) academically just ok and in math and science, poor b) very non- diverse , with a very large % of students from Bel Air and Beverly Hills, many of whom were not that hard working or smart c) feeling of favoritism to children of big donors and/or celebrities where discipline or sports teams concerned d) very few working moms and cliquish , snobby Parent's Association My son got all As without working hard and when he got to Harvard Westlake had a rude awakening in his lack of preparation in math, science and grammar. Somehow the school is a HW " feeder" school but from what my son tells me, the JT Dye and The Center kids are far better prepared academically . 6th grade ( once middle school applications are in) was a joke academically and my son paid for that in 7th.
Our kids are happy & come home well spent from daily PE at Curtis. They have made great friends and the environment for them has been wam, caring and supportive. There is so much green space to run around and high value placed on playtime, which is lovely. Teachers have generally been good but not exceptional. What they lack in truly innovative teaching is a wealth of experienced teachers. There is little bullying as far as I can tell, and this is highly commendable. The challenges facing the school If you are applying now is the extremely poor diversity of school population, current ongoing search for a new headmaster (our visionary head retiring this year), over-indulgence of parent association to catering just to the upper crust non-working parents, and the ever present but inevitable materialistic atmosphere. Our kids often come back housed and pools , and we immediately try to nip these sorts of talk in the bud . Kids who are snobs learn the behavior from their parents...a sad fact for all private schools. I don't blame them, we just have to work harder at combating this at out own dinner table.
A great school and a wonderful campus with rolling fields and an amazing pool. The parents tend towards the flashy side in the Range Rovers and Maseratis but the kids don't seem affected at this young age. If you are comfortable with the kind of families who have multiple nannies, multiple homes, and the dads have burned through multiple prior marriages, then you have found your home.
Curtis school produces children who thrive academically, socially, physically, and artistically. Now that my child is in seventh grade at Harvard-Westlake, we feel that his k-6 education has more than prepared for the challenges to come. Prior to elementary school, my child wasn't the sharpest tool in the shed, but Curtis picked him up where he fell and raised him to excellence. Even though my family is not in the best financial situation, that did not hold my son back one bit from making tons of friends and bonding with all his classmates and teachers. The school nurtures all of it's children offering more individual attention for every student than imaginable. It's a warm, friendly environment and my niece, who applied in 4th grade, was welcomed into the community with open arms and and adapted better than we had even hoped. We truly believe that Curtis is a wonderful place to send every child no matter their background. Curtis follows through on it's mission to create a sound mind, in a sound body, governed by a compassionate heart, and we could not be happier with our child's experience.
Curtis is a beautiful school & we feel truly lucky to be able to send our children there. Academically, I feel my children are receiving a solid foundation. Perhaps it's not the most rigorous (& lacks a foreign language), but the children get all the basics. Importantly, children have safe, open, green spaces in which to run around every day. The athletics program is strong, as are the music and arts programs. Children are treated well & taught to be responsible & confident. I do feel each grade has some teachers who are better than others, but some of the teachers are truly outstanding! The headmaster is lovely and knows each child. The school's biggest weakness is with the mid-level administrators. The head of the lower school strikes me as not particularly bright or competent and the head of the older students is known to be pompous and unfeeling. Still, these two rarely seem to interact with the children in any meaningful way, so any detrimental effect is felt mostly by the parents (& maybe the teachers?). I know of many successful alumni, and all told, Curtis is a great school - our kids are happy & like school, and we are happy with our children's social & academic progress.
I have been to the Curtis School several times over the years as a Caterer at events they gave and can tell you that the place is amazing! From the immaculate grounds and buildings, to the pool and play areas, everything is top notch! The staff all are friendly and seem to love what they do, and the kids seem to love them just as much, from my observances when working there. I wouldn't hesitate to send my children there because I feel the place is safe, well run and the ratio of teacher to students is very low(I believe one teacher told me 14-1). Overall, the school looks like a small college campus and I look forward to my trips there 4-5 times a year!
I graduated Curtis a few years back and have mixed feelings about it and will write my most unbiased review of the school. The Positives: The campus and facilities are spectacular, arguably better than my high school and they have a wonderful athletic program. The school has enough money to bring in great performers for the students and have great field trips, new computers and new technology. The Curtis Fair, and Superstars day are extremely fun and very professionally put together. The Negatives: The student body lacks diversity and the majority of the kids come from very privileged backgrounds $$$$. I did not have any remarkable teachers and did not feel as though they gave enough individual attention for the money. I did not feel a strong community bond at Curtis and many kids had an entitled arrogance as a result of coming from money (as many other westside schools). I did not feel "nurtured" at Curtis. The learning environment felt cold and only the confident smart kids seemed to thrive. Having said all this, I do not think Curtis is for every kid. If you want a more diverse, nurturing and down-to earth school I would say look elsewhere. Curtis is great for some though.
Our three children are currently enrolled in Curtis and my husband and I could not ask for a more nurturing, caring and warm environment for our kids. The academics are excellent, the sports program is phenomenal and the arts and science programs are stellar. Our children could not be happier. Our entire family feels supported and a part of a bigger community at Curtis. The Parents Association is strong and also supported by the Administration. We have found a home at Curtis and know that we will be a part of this family for a very long time.
Our three children currently attend Curtis and all are extremely happy, well educated and have compassion for their fellow classmates. We started there 8 years ago, and now my oldest is graduating and going to an excellent middle school. Curtis truly embodies what we as parents would like to see for our children...well educated, challenged, in a warm, caring environment where they are known for their individuality. I feel blessed and fortunate that we can send our children to a place like Curtis.