- Genuinely great kids
- pretty good families (though they can be slightly cliquish)
- Preschool (caveat the first con)
- Dedicated teachers
- There appears to be a significant level of discord in the administration which works its way down to the children from time to time. The very popular head of the preschool was fired in the middle of the school year on the eve of a long weekend with no credible explanation. This was obviously very disruptive to the children.
- The upper school lacks a contemporary pedological philosophy. If you liked the rote learning of your youth, I suppose this might be a pro.
Like the person below, my husband and I just went through the Kindergarten admissions process for the coming academic year (2015-2016). Our experience was very different. The school was totally upfront that they would not have a lot of spaces available - we heard this from the Admissions team, Headmistress and several current parents during our initial tour. At the start of our tour of the school the Head of Admissions mentioned they had limited spaces; at the end of our initial tour, we let the Admissions team know that St James is our absolute first choice school: in response to this the Head of Admissions point blank told us that we should submit an application if we wanted to but warned us that there would be a very limited number of places available this year. Before our son's playdate the Admissions team once again mentioned (to the whole group of parents) there would be limited spaces available this year AND the current parents at my table mentioned they thought there would only be “a handful of spaces”. The Admissions team went so far as to say “even if St James is your first choice school, we encourage you to have a strong back up as we know this year there will be families that we want to accept but won’t have the space to”. From the get go we knew - and were constantly reminded! - that spaces were going to be limited. We went through the admissions process regardless and hoped for the best - luckily, we were offered (and instantly accepted!) one of the “handful of spaces" available for Kindergarten 2015-2016. We are not related to the school in any way - both my husband and I are from out of town, our son is the eldest (so no older siblings at the school) and no-one from my family goes to the pre-school. We feel very lucky - we know this year there were dozens of qualified families that the school wanted to hand places to but weren’t able to.
This is not a review of the school itself but of their borderline deceptive admissions process for the Kindergarten program. For the 2015-2016 school year, we went through a process that included the fee and NUMEROUS visits to the school. However, the school admitted NO ONE who was not an existing sibling or student in their JK, after taking the fees from what I estimate to be several hundred people, who also gave up precious time during work days to attend tours, meetings, Q&A's, evening events, etc. It is not difficult for the admissions office to ascertain how many siblings and rising students from their JK will be filling their Kindergarten program. They should then open up the admissions process with the caveat that they have ONE open space, or whatever the number is. What they did was essentially a scam, selling spots they did not have. We asked them several times how many open spaces there were and never got an answer. For a supposedly "Christian" school this seems surprisingly shady.
I love this school! It has everything our daughter needs for her elementary school education. The teachers are kind and caring, the curriculum is rigorous and engaging, and the parent community is beyond compare. There are always people out there that find fault, but you'll be hard pressed to find a school that's as warm, nurturing, academically enriching, and well run as St. James'.
Ask any hakwon (only because hakwons are exposed to so many kids attending different schools public and private. I am not endorsing hakwons). St. James while looking bright and pretty is academically weak. Little rigor, hence low ICEE scores, fear under the guise of esteem building replaces grit, and the school is plagued by weird racial tension (they still preach color blindness circa 1986). Though they put on a good show, they are behind in methodology, their focus being money. They see the child as a customer and the customer is always right. As a parent, I want my child to be challenged and guided, not told s/he is right. My advice save your money and send your child to a charter school. It s a good moment for the charter school system; pedagogy, rigor, and differentiation are en vogue.
We have a first grader at St. James. St. James is a wonderful, safe, kind, academically challenging (age, individually appropriate there are plenty of children who are challenged in some way and the school fully supports and aids them to the best of their ability). We looked at several schools in Los Angeles and St. James came out number one on our list for many reasons--check out the awesome science, art, computer labs! It has superb leadership, dedicated teachers, active and supportive parents and delightful children. It truly is "the face of LA" as someone said below. It's very special in that it's an inner city private school so to speak so the student body is truly diverse. I have never seen any bullying. Ever. We love it and feel so lucky to have our child there.
Our daughter has been at St James since Kindergarten and is currently in Third Grade. St James is like an extended family. It is warm, nurturing and academically rigorous. The student population and faculty are also extremely diverse and represent the face of LA. We are a Jewish family and feel totally embraced. The religious aspect of the school is not dogmatic, but teaches a broad humanity which is lived every day. I cannot understand the comment about bullying below as I have found the children at St James to be very kind and caring. The older kids look out for the younger ones and children transferring into later grades are warmly welcomed and fit right in. The Head of School Debbie David is a power house and Angela Arrington the Vice Principal is also dynamic. I highly recommend St James. Our daughter is very happy there.
St James is best school in LA. Let me start by saying my son is a gifted child. He was accepted in Mirman, WNS, John Thomas Dye, and Willow. My wife and I choose St James because of the schools academic rigor, religious/social balance, and real world demographic mix. Based on those three criteria, St James is the only school in LA that checks all the boxes. This is my son s second year at St James and we couldn't be happier. His schoolwork is challenging (as we expected), he is gaining an understanding of religion, and his friends are of all races. Lastly, I have to say the kids at St James are happy. I'm on campus everyday, and all I see are lots of smiling faces. I can t wait till my daughters a little older so she can go to St James too :o)
St. James' is a small school with a BIG problem - bullying. For years administration has ignored this problem, especially if the bullies are the children of the affluent and big financial donors to the school. For obvious reasons administration has stuck their heads in the sand when it comes to this growing problem in the St. James' community, while the bullies are running a muck. I think that the parents of these children know that their kids have a serious social problem, but they also know that the school needs money, their money. In the meantime bullying is a rampant problem and administration does not want to confront the problem or the parents of the problem. Money talks at St. James . The bullying includes both physical and verbal attacks. This is a problem that seriously needs to be addressed and the school needs to take a stand against the bullies no matter who their parents are.
Thank you Saint James. We have a happy well rounded eager learner. The school is an academic school with a warm heart. The parent community is open and inviting and as diverse as they come. We are so happy we found St. James and can only hope that our child's education in the future can compare.