This is a safe place to share your honest opinions of a school, whether good or bad.
Wonderland Avenue Elementary School5
Posted March 24, 2015
- a parent
The best school, public or private, you can hope to have for your child. Teacher's aides in every room; cutting edge instructional technologies; professional development for teachers; instructors and materials for art, music, PE, library, full time gardening teacher with a project-based curriculum, orchestra program, string band, drama program, chicken coop with fresh eggs daily. The list goes on and on. The parents donate over $600K annually to pay for all the programs and it's well worth it. The culture of achievement and pride is pervasive throughout the campus. Like any school, there can be ups and downs in any given year (teachers going on maternity leave, new ones coming in) but year in and year out this school has ranked within the top 3 of all elementary schools in Los Angeles (based on test scores) and it offers so much more than just academics. There is a very active parent body but those families do not receive "preferential" treatment, this is not even possible as all teachers are excellent. As for the negative reviews below, there are always parents who feel that their child is getting the short end of the stick. Likely they would feel this way wherever they end up.
Its a good school but is has its problems. Because parents financially support the school a class structure evolves where those who give more get more. Unlike private schools a barrier does not exist between those funds and how the people holding the degrees and credentials in education feel the money should be spent. Wealth is often confused with educational knowledge and your pocket book buys you experience and power that you did not earned and do not deserve. A handful of parents (5-10 parents) dictate the validity of things like a funded library, to a chicken coup and just about everything on campus often with little regard for what others may feel. If your willing to put up with this for a above average education for your child then its bearable but always annoying, and sometimes belittling and humiliating. But, at the end of the day what other options do you have?
Don't believe the hype! We moved here so our child could attend the Wonder Land, and in his 3 years endured more exiting teachers than he learned to count, unless it was on a standardized test. Four different teachers in 2nd grade alone, and first teacher wasn't even credentialed! Their principal, praised by so many in the community as the second coming, announced his exit mid-school and then his "hand-picked replacement"' bailed a mere week before the new school year began. Don't let all the kook-aid-induced glowing reviews fool you, this school is riddled with problems and doesn't even begin to compare to a private school education, as we now know. Not just in the obv ways - smaller classrooms, more specialists, etc. But in countless other ways, too, like accountability and transparency, which you will not get here --what's this strange occurrence that no one dare mention, where Wonderland families who very publicly donate the most money *shocklingy!* find their children placed in the "preferred" teachers' classrooms?? No doubt it's one of the best schools in LAUSD, but being best in one of the worst school districts in the country doesn't mean all that much now, does it? .
This is our first year at Wonderland (Magnet) and we simply love the school. The fact that it is tucked away up in the hills outside all that urban-ness, nestled in the Canyon, with such great teachers, kids and parent volunteers (and yes, the test scores...) What we love are the dedicated community, the arts and music programs (outstanding really), the gardening program. The feeling that your kid is really looked after and belongs. My son LOVED the overnight science field trip. He came home crying because he wanted to go back and kept saying "it was the complete LACK of technology and one-ness with nature that made it so amazing, so beautiful." He has also started to read voraciously since he started at the school. OK, it would be nice to have computers, but smartboards are cool and lets face it, they will be partnering with computers for the rest of their lives (like it or not). The one thing I would suggest is a typing class so they can do all that writing for the writing program on the home computer, but that is just one for the suggestion box. And maybe a few more direct emails and flyers to parents with events as one learns to navigate shutterfly. Love it overall!
I love love love this school. My girls and I moved here from another country and have met so much understanding and help, because of the language , my girls wasn't fluently in english when we came, but now they are. Thanks to you beautiful teacher with enormous patience and guidance. The teachers are amazing, you are lucky if you end up in Mrs Valdes class or Mrs Zarakowski. Much love
My daughter was new to Wonderland this year, and I can honestly say that I love this school. She had two wonderful, energetic, committed, and amazing teachers, who went above and beyond anything I would have expected in terms of the effort and enthusiasm they showed with the children. The parents, children and staff were kind and caring. The "extras' at the school, like PE, Art,Music, field trips, after-school programs, etc, were so good. My daughter had a great year, we feel very lucky that she was able to attend Wonderland.
We were happy with Wonderland School for quite few years, but the last 2 years have been very disappointed, since it's been constantly testing and testing and testing without a break. I really can't see the teaching here, just testing. How can the student learn if there is not time for learning, just testing (of course, this is because of the LAUSD budget cuts, no doubt). But student are not learning the way it used to be.... : (
Whenever I see a negative review of Wonderland, I can't help but wonder if it's a magnet applicant's parent hoping to improve their chances by discouraging others. Comparing Wonderland negatively to Carpenter is flat-out ludicrous. Wonderland is a nearly perfect public school. I am a parent of two students at Wonderland who have had a combined 13 different teachers, not including the music, library, P.E. teachers. I know of what I write. I also know, from speaking to many parents, that there are a handful of parents who would not be happy under any circumstance. And I imagine the reviewer two below this will be submitting a similarly negative review of Carpenter next year. Completely defies logic that somebody would write about moving OUT of the Wonderland District because the school doesn't have enough computers to satisfy their subjective preference.. That's literally crazy-talk.
In response to the prior 2 reviews a couple things from a former teacher. 1. If your home school is Carpenter you're crazy to leave that. They have a GATE program that far surpasses Wonderland in the sense that they teach GATE with fidelity to research. However, Wonderland has incredible resources and a more developed sense of constructivism. The teachers who use their technology as it is supposed to be used provide a valuable access point for students. Some teachers at both schools sacrifice teaching the students because they rely on the fact that they have "smart" kids. Carpenter tends to communicate more teacher to parent and both principals are extremely skilled socially. The fact that Carpenter went charter shows their willingness to be more transparent and parentally share-controlled. Either school is a huge blessing to public school options.
in response to the below negative review - with all due respect, i disagree. How does the presence of computers in a school make it better? In this highly technologically charged world climate, i prefer my kids get hands on learning and teaching from an actual human and not a machine. This is especially true in the lower grades, as kids are forming the way they learn and appreciate learning. I have found Wonderland to be a magical place for my kids. There are things that are compromised, yes, because it is a public school - in the way of facilities maybe - but when it comes the the education of my kids i find it to be wonderful. All of the wonderland kids i know have a special quality of kindness. They look out for each other and their community. They respect their teachers and have a genuine love of learning. As far our family is concerned, it is an oasis in a city and private school climate that often teaches kids (by default) poor social skills and materialism. Long Live Wonderland!