This is a safe place to share your honest opinions of a school, whether good or bad.
Mirman School, The5
Posted February 23, 2015
- a parent
Our child is a recent graduate. Now that she has matured and progressed, we can look back on her many years at Mirman, and be grateful for the incredible education she received. Because Mirman children are forced to speak before the entire class at an early age, our child is never afraid of public speaking. Because of beloved Durrie, our child, who doesn't even consider herself a visual artist, won a Scholastic Silver Key in Drawing. Because of Mr. Kay, she can sing beautifully and enjoys performing in school productions, as well as playing several musical instruments. Because of so many of her Mirman teachers, she is a voracious reader, and is called a "phenomenal, mature-beyond-her-years writer" by her high school English teachers. The most wonderful thing about this school -- which Dr. Mirman himself said to me years ago -- is gathering so many highly gifted children together in one place. They accept each other and feed off of each other's interests. How true that is! Our child has made life-long friends, and her Mirman education has set her on a terrific path.
We spent last year in Rm 1 with the "better" of the two teachers. This teacher was unpolished (she says like every other word) and seemingly uneducated (she taught her students that George Washington "helped write the Constitution, evidenced by a video on her teacher website!) In addition, she seemed to teach reading by memorization. After discovering she didn't know how to teach children to read we met with said teacher and asked to see her reading curriculum (Rm 1 didn't have one) and asked to see her formal assessments of our child (they didn't do that either!). Imaginably we were disappointed and arranged to meet with the Head of School. He was stunned that Rm 1 didn't have a reading curriculum! He was even more stunned to hear about her historical misteaching. But that is where we went from disappointed in Rm 1 - holding out hope for Rm 2 - to having lost faith in the entire school. The Head of School's response to the misteaching of American History was, "Well - not EVERYONE would know that." Well, you re correct. Not everyone would. BUT any educator employed at this "elite" institution should know basic American History. And with that statement, we unenrolled.
Our 6 year old just started in September and I see so many fantastic changes in her. Her teacher, Ms Rourick is warm and sweet. My child's zest for reading and learning math has grown daily. We sent her to a "crunchy granola" private preschool where academics were secondary to being kind and practicing good social skills like chewing with your mouth closed--and I would do that again. But I was curious how she would transition to a roomful of kids who were reading chapter books at age 3 and some were math prodigies. Well, it has been great. No hiccups and he absolutely loves school. Compared to other private LA schools this one has a lot of heart. I really love the assemblies, the plays, the musical instruction, and I find it keeps my child alive to the magic of childhood just a little bit longer. Huge kudos to head of school Dan Vorenberg and the new staff he continues to attract. we are thrilled with his leadership and excited for our next 7 years.
This is my first year at Mirman, and the community is simply amazing! The students are engaged and excited about learning. The teaching staff demonstrate genuine care for children as individuals. There is a clear focus on individualizing learning. Families are welcomed into the community, and there are over 30 committees for parents to serve on. Families are quickly integrated into the school community. Yes, students from Mirman routinely get into the high school of their choice, and the academics do excel here, but the focus on a well rounded educational experience is what makes the Mirman experience unique. This school is phenomenal!
You can learn a lot by watching the children at any school and at Mirman, the kids are smiling, happy and engaged. The new Head of School has both warmth and vision and his plans have energized the school. Mirman understands the importance of preparing kids for a world that none of us grew up in and none of us can predict. There is always staff turnover when a new Head of School arrives but you should SEE the amazing new hires that have joined Mirman. The best from across the country. The parents at this school are extremely involved and kind. I would never have applied to this school bc I thought it was for "genius" kids but my kid was bored at his last school so someone suggested it. I'm so glad they did! Go Mustangs!
I was so thrilled to find this school and had such high hopes for an exceptional education for my daughter here. I thought her out of the box thinking would be honored, cultivated and channeled here. Sadly, "intelligence" is defined at Mirman, for the most post, in the traditional fashion - "good at math," or "good at language arts" or "artistic/musical." We were surrounded by families who value acceleration for it's own sake, above all else, mainly in math. Some parents had had their children tutored in math since the age of 3. Others hired math tutors to compete with these "genius" children in the ridiculous number of math competitions ALL the students are required to participate in! There are a few other ways to shine at Mirman which also involve, yes, more competitions! "Obedient, rule-following, studious" types also do well here. The staff are lovely as people and mean well. If you can handle the bizarre "worship of math acceleration" sub-culture going on there and just want your kid to study traditional subjects with other bright kids, then go for it! If you are looking for innovative education to spark his/her drive and passion - look elsewhere,
They have some great teachers, and students. However, they could do better. Administrators are leaving weekly and there is no real explanation why. Also, the kids don't do much more than learn. It would be nice if kids had dance or the younger kids had theater. The emphasis seems to be on raising more money and enrolling more celebrity/rich children. I don't know where the board is heading, with all these obvious firings and celebrity kids, but I hope that the curriculum doesn't suffer. My child has been there three years, but I don't see her learning much more than she would in public school. A lot of the experience has been parents patting themselves on the back for getting into the school, but academics haven't met their expectations. Every one wants to sit and talk about how gifted their child is, but no one wants to talk about the elephant in the room because they've already spent so much money sending their kids to Mirman.
I am a new parent at Mirman and feel so blessed that my children are attending this school. We were at public and private school before finding a school that actually would cater to the needs of our children. Their interests in learning is fostered and the curriculum is without boundaries. Integrative learning and group projects help teach cooperation and teamwork. Computers are utilized for learning. My children find the staff wanting to teach; My children find the students wanting to learn. This creates an environment which fosters learning for the joy and excitement of learning; not for a state test. The children at Mirman play sports and some at very high levels. Although they are highly gifted and excel in learning they are still kids that play, socialize and enjoy just being kids.
Ask the current administration, none of which has any experience in gifted education, why teachers have left in droves, and celebrity children are allowed to hit, bite and torment classmates and teachers with no consequences, Ask the new headmaster about his lack of any expertise in gifted education. Indeed the minute he arrived we lost the head of the lower school who had been here for 27 years. Word has it that she left because the new headmaster refused to hold accountable the aforementioned celebrity child. Ask the current administration why some applicants do not have to take the Stanford IQ test that every other applicant had to take. Ask the administration why the teacher turnover rate is so and why they pretend room one is first grade, room two is second grade etc. and yet test those children with standardized tests a full grade lower? As the administration why they have canceled the enrichment trips and give virtually no homework? Mirman is not a school for highly gifted children. It is no different than other private schools looking to fill coffers for administration salary increases. Ten years ago the tuition was under $12k a year and now it is $30k.
The Mirman School has been amazing for our child: he is constantly engaged, he is learning to think creatively, and he is in a community of learners who highly value curiosity and innovation. The teachers, many of whom have been at Mirman for decades, are committed and passionate and the resources that the children have available to them are unparalleled. My sole criticism is that that admissions director, who was somewhat kept in check by the former administration, has allowed her apparent interest in celebrity and money to compromise her judgment. I am hopeful that the new head of school will take careful oversight of the admissions process and return to the values of the Mirmans who put the interests of the children as a whole above all other concerns.