As I am nearing the end of my college journey I have been thinking a lot about my high school and college experiences. Undoubtedly the worst years of my life were at Windward and staying there it is one of my biggest regrets. I really wish I had gone to a different school. I went from a very happy, social and friendly kid in elementary school to a very isolated, excluded and withdrawn teenager. I have never in my life had an experience like this. The kids at this school were very superficial and cliquey, not in the way I have seen at many other more established schools such as Harvard Westlake and Brentwood. Windward is neither here nor there and is in a bizarre area. Its a wanna be Brentwood, HW, Crossroads, etc. I have seen teachers bully kids to get in with the cool crowd and many of the kids and many of the coaches and faculty did as well. The school is not large enough to have multiple friend groups but too large to be nurturing and inclusive. I am a very athletic, social and friendly person and have never felt like I was in such a weird fake social environment as I did at Windward. My experience athletically, academically and socially was really horrible and I really wish my parents had looked at other schools for me. In my opinion this school needs a lot of work. I had such a miserable experience here and would really suggest looking at a variety of schools and seeing which ones fit your needs the best.
I have been a college professor for many years so I am familiar with the American academic system that essentially requires students to select a specific path early in life and pursue it vigorously only to eventually discover that it was quite possibly the wrong direction. It is no wonder that many college graduates can t find employment today. My child was at Windward and finding his way, but the school had little patience for his expansive exploration nor did the staff provide the necessary guidance he needed. Here great attention is devoted to students that place their academic studies above all other essential life-skills, and whose parents are determined their child attend an Ivy League university at any cost. If this is your goal, the school is perfect. But if you are seeking to expose your child to all the wonders of this world and assist them in their life-choices by presenting a variety of directions, you might wish to consider a school with a broader curriculum and a staff that understands and addresses the variable maturity periods of teens.
I have a child at Windward, and we think the school is fantastic. There are some truly awesome teachers and the curriculum is interesting and engaging. The work is challenging, but not overwhelming (once appropriate study skills are mastered). A great selection of arts electives allows kids to explore their creative side. The school recently switched to heavy reliance on the ipad, which is great for kids who might misplace their work or textbooks otherwise. The administration is very supportive and very responsive to parental input. As an example, in 2015-2016 they will have a late start Wednesday, to let the kids catch up on sleep (which studies have shown is so important for teens).
Windward is an excellent school. The adminstrators and teachers care deeply about students academically and emotionally. The academics are challenging and their are ample extracurriculars to meet a variety of student interests. Windward is, however, a very traditional school. This is a great school for kids who are comfortable and can function under a great deal of pressure and do not need a more creative learning environment. If you are the parent of a student athlete or future doctor, engineer or attorney this is the school for you. If you are the parent of a more creative, divergent kind of thinker -- look elsewhere. This is a pre-professional high school for kids who are heading to pre-professional colleges. That's not a bad thing. It is just the truth.
Our daughter is finishing up her first year as a 7th grader at Windward School. We are very pleased with the academics, athletics, and the community as whole. She has grown and matured as a 13 year old, both academically and socially. Our experiences with the teachers have been very rewarding and satisfying as parents who only want what is best for their child. The teachers, partnered with the administrators, work very well together to help the students reach their full potential while holding them accountable for their roles in the community; fostering responsibility, integrity, and social morality.
Windward is and has been an amazing experience for our girls. Both have excelled academically beyond our expectations and are enjoying the social environment. High points about Windward are the diversity, size of the school, small enough that no student goes "unnoticed," and the teachers, staff and families - mutual respect amongst all. Very, very satisfied with Windward!
As a substitute teacher of 6+ years, I have worked throughout LA, and am exceptionally qualified to compare Windward to other schools. Hands down, Windward is my favorite school to work at. The culture is friendly, supportive, academically rigorous, and there is almost never a problem of students acting out in class! They instill acceptance, compassion, and mutual support among students and faculty alike. The kids come to class prepared to learn and work, and I don't witness the same apathy and defiance I do at other schools. I've never seen students get in fights. And despite a diverse student population, racial tensions are nonexistent. The highly negative reviews seem fictional to me. In my 6+ years coming to Windward I have never witnessed bullying/mean-girl issues or excessive cliquey-ness. Some cliques will naturally appear in any large mixed social setting, but there's nothing outwardly malicious or exclusionary going on. People complaining about Windward are in fantasy land. Schools really don't get much better than this. As someone with a truly independent perspective, I can say that the positive reviews are consistent with what I've seen at Windward; the negative are not.
I gave the school 2 stars as they have some great teachers. HOWEVER the counseling program here is in need of a drastic overall as is their approach to dealing with teens out of control. The mean girl movement is in full swing with no control nor real concern by the school. The academic standard is high but so much so that if you don't shine you are left behind, not picked for various leadership roles, and your child's self-esteem is damaged. Boys fair much better than girls here. Beware!
Windward has been a more wonderful experience than my family could ever have dreamed. Our daughter was admitted for the 8th grade from an over-crowded Santa Monica public school. The teachers are beyond incredible and as my child observed, "The teachers treat you with friendliness and respect. They aren't always assuming you're going to screw around." As one of the three incoming 8th graders, my daughter could easily have been miserable if the grade was "clique-y" but she was fully welcomed. By the end of her first week she "knew" everyone in her class and felt completely at home. This welcoming attitude has continued throughout her current 11th grade year. She loves her teachers and they all go out of their way to help the students succeed. Last year my daughter was ill and missed almost 1 month of school and her teachers worked with her on their own time to bring her up to speed. I can't imagine a more loving and supportive environment (as well as a wonderfully challenging one.)