This is our son's first year at Wonderland, having entered the GATE magnet in 3rd grade. He came from another LAUSD school that was pretty good, and at first it broke our hearts that he was asking us every day to go back to his old school and see his old friends. Having lived in the Valley for eight years, I had of course heard of Wonderland's reputation as one of the top three elementary schools in LA (and one of the top schools in CA actually) and always wondered what it would be like if my kids went there, but seeing our son's sad little face, I started to question our decision- "Does he really need to have an 'amazing' elementary school education? Or is 'good enough' good enough for elementary?" Well, we are so happy we stuck to our guns, as now he's fully adjusted, doesn't want to go back to his old school anymore and is thriving. And now that we have two schools to compare, boy, do we see the difference. Our son now would come home from class, so excited to tell us about the collaborative projects they did in class, like the one on types of energy. He NEVER would tell us what he learned in class at his old school- it would be the same answer every time- "you know, stuff. Like we always do." At Wonderland, they also learn SCIENCE in 3rd grade, which they did very little of at his old school (in the lower grades anyway). They go to the library twice a week and once a week have music and art (in classrooms that are designated studios for music and art, respectively). I love how in the GATE program, he is surrounded by other high-performing kids, who still love to have fun, but also love learning and are up to being challenged. This challenges him to do his best. Yet the kids are collaborative, as the teachers have them work together and help each other. He has two teachers (one for Language Arts & Social Studies, one for Math & Science), and they are both wonderful. I've heard the 4th and 5th grade teachers are also excellent. The principal, Mr. Teer is wonderful as well- so involved, helpful, completely present, often at the school events. I get a sense that everybody at the school- the principal and his administrators, the teachers, the parents-- are all working together towards a common goal, and they set the bar high, and that is what makes Wonderland a truly great school. Wonderland also won the National Blue Ribbon this year, one of only 279 schools nationwide to win the award! We are so very grateful to be part of Wonderland and its community!
This is great school with a great new leader Mr. Sean Teer. After long searches and deliberations teachers' and parents' coalition found a great principle for this school! Mr. Teer is always on top of things, great communicator and facilitator, every morning he meets his entire school by the gates! Always impeccably dressed and with a smile on his face! And who can forget his weekly updates by email and phone messages! Great organizational and management skills! Awesome personality! Thank you, Mr.Teer from your thankful community of students and parents at Wonderland!
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.