Our older child has been attending Synapse for two years and LOVES it. He looks forward to school everyday. The teachers and staff are positive, caring and engaging. They pay close attention to child's needs, strengths and weaknesses, be it emotional, social, academical or intellectual. The open communication between teachers, staff and parents ensure that concerns are immediately addressed and have positive lifelong impact on the child. The students are curious and most have age appropriate deep and logical thinking skills. Each morning the teachers check in on the children's emotions and their progress during the day. This helps the children to be emotionally secure and confident which is fundamental for their social, intellectual and academic development. After a year at Synapse, our older child (who has been Mensa member for years) experienced an increase in his IQ score by 11 points, and is more mature and responsible. My 3rd child also attends Synapse this year. She used to resist new ideas for fear of failing and is now open to new ideas and voices her opinions and is really confident in engaging several adults at once in a conversation. Our children LOVE Synapse
It's hard to make the bold choice to send your child to a relatively new school. Will it be stable...are there effective systems in place...are the curriculum and logistics solid. In short, do these people really know what they're doing? In the case of Synapse, the answer is YES. It's not just that the curriculum is sophisticated and impressively implemented. It's not just that the administration and teachers are warm, approachable and personally invested in the success of each student. Or that the environment is joyful, vibrant, and a touch nerdy. The kicker is that everyone -- teachers, administrators and parents -- is here by choice, and is fully committed to the mission of the school. The parent community is engaged and supportive, not just of the students and teachers, but of each other. And in return, the administration respects and supports parents, helping us to learn and grow along with our children. As an institution, Synapse is very nimble, and issues are handled in an efficient, humane and thoughtful way. The emphasis on Social and Emotional Learning is woven into every interaction at every level. Synapse doesn't just talk about it -- they do it, day in and day out.
Our daughter started in September as a Kindergartner (Level 1) and we could not be happier. At the end of the day we were searching for a school that would keep her fire and passion to learn alive all while having a lot of fun. The things that drew us to Synapse (to name a few) were the block scheduling, the low teacher to child ratio, the helical model, the injection of fun and humor, the social-emotional component and the fact that they were incorporating the latest research as to how kids learn into the school imagine that?!? The school really seemed too good to be true based on what we heard a year ago in the Parent Information night, but I have to say, we are 3 months in and we are thrilled Synapse is walking the talk. Our daughter has a great group of classmates that fortunately come with an awesome set of parents that we are enjoying getting to know. Our daughter comes home each day totally charged with all the new things that she has learned and we see her applying what she has learned all the time. Synapse just keeps adding oxygen to that fire and it-is-a-blazing and we love it. Thank you Synapse!
We have found this school to be the right fit for our gifted child. Synapse uses a helical model of instruction, which allows the children to explore and idea before formally learning about it. As a result, they have a greater ability to understand and retain both concepts and details. The community, like most communities in this area, has a wide range of people. Thankfully, everyone seems to share the commitment to this out-of-the-box approach to curriculum. Therefore, despite huge personality differences amongst the parents, it is still a cohesive, collaborative community in which we enjoy mom's nights out and school-wide outings.
Beware of the glowing reviews. I found these administrators and parents to be entitled elitists. It was a lot of money that equalled no bang for the buck. Don't waste your money.
What works: Amazing eclectic, talented, friendly, highly involved parent/student community---the best! Interesting curriculum, effective differentiation, teachers know individual students and work with their respective needs/learning styles, safe/accepting social environment across genders and ages, teachers and administration inspire intellectual learning and personal growth, highly experienced administrative staff (unfortunately only there part-time) What needs improvement: For financial efficiency and effective execution of complex curriculum, NEEDS a single, full time head of school with solid leadership skills and experience working with/managing innovative learning environments for gifted children, would do well to increase job search range to beyond Six Seconds and Notre Dame for the sake of leadership strength, effectiveness and accountability, one or two teachers are highly talented with gifted children, others are above average and will be better with a few more years under their belts and some classroom management training
My child started attending Synapse this year, after attending a very highly regarded public school. His previous school was very "one size fits all," and he was bored. He never shared classroom experiences at home. We knew we had to get him in an environment that was a better fit for his personality and talents, or he would slowly lose his enthusiasm for learning. We found it at Synapse! The teachers are incredibly involved, and knowledgeable about gifted learners. The other students are bright, well behaved kids. The parent community is very welcoming. We love the fact that there are TWO teachers for 15 kids! Best of all - my son doesn't want to come home at the end of the day! He has a learning "buzz" every day after attending Synapse. Highly recommend!
I can't say enough good things about this gem of a school. From the founders (the founding team from The Nueva School) to the teachers (bright, creative,hard working, passionate) to the community (wonderful, committed and involved families) the school is amazing. My children love it! I have never seen them so engaged and so inspired to learn. Synapse represents the best of Silicon Valley-- innovative, creative, passionate and entrepreneurial. I feel very fortunate that we found such a wonderful school.
My gifted kids LOVE this school. The hands-on learning, individual attention and integration of emotional intelligence make this an atmosphere where they thrive. I am SO impressed by the depth of learning and the creative approaches to subject areas. My children have never before been so engaged and excited about the learning process. The Synapse community has been a gift for our entire family.
My son just transferred to Synapse this Fall for 7th grade after attending our local public middle school for 6th grade last year. Our public middle school was not a good fit for him and he shut down to school at the end of 6th grade. He is a very intellectually curious kid who likes to dive deep into subjects. He also likes personal connections with others. He often has a different way of approaching seemingly straightforward topics and assignments. These qualities made school hard for him at his old school but are encouraged at Synapse. He still struggles with disorganization but in a smaller school like Synapse with one core teacher it's easier to manage. He now LOVES school at Synapse and is very happy. Here are some descriptions from my son - it as a friendly environment where kids aren't rude, not stressful (the school work is fun and encouraging and anti-stressful and there are no grades), you feel like you are doing less work when you are really getting twice as much learning as other schools, conversations about the school lessons start up easily (he said the students weren't as engaged in learning and there wasn't as much time at his former school).
My son started at Synapse in Level 1 (kindergarten) this year. Before school started this fall, my son was convinced that school was going to be boring. Now he says that weekends and school days are both his favorites. He is excited to teach me what he has learned at the end of the day, he is proud of his accomplishments, and he always looks forward to it. I worried endlessly last year over where to send him and I feel overjoyed at having found a place for my son to thrive.
My son will be starting his third year at Synapse next month and we are pleased to report that he is counting the days to his first day back! The constructivist, accelerated curriculum taught in block scheduling is the perfect match for our son who engages in project-based learning, focuses well and love to go deep. I've been particularly impressed with the administration's adherence to the highest standards with respect to admissions. We are so pleased with the program that younger son will be starting his Kindergarten year there in the fall too!
My Level 1 boy has come home all smiles from Synapse. He is completely engaged and intrigued by the curriculum and not only maintains his passion for knowledge, but because of the hands-on approach, he has a real sense of confidence in his ability to learn. I would also say that another notable fact about Synapse is the virtual lack of cliquishness or exclusion. The focus on EQ and the nature of the curriculum both teach and require teamwork and collaboration - real lessons for life.
Synapse is an ideal school for bright, gifted learners. It's true there has been some attrition, on par with any other private school. The project-based curriculum can be challenging for some children and may not be the best fit for every child. Ideally, this is something that is determined through our rigorous admissions process but occasionally, issues come to late later. The teachers, staff and administrators are not only professional and tremendously experienced, they are also unusually committed to and passionate about each student's journey. It is hard for everyone when a child struggles but, in the case of Synapse, it is more likely attributed to rightness of fit than to lack of social, emotional or academic support, of which there is an abundance.
Many families are leaving or have left mid-year. Not a school for gifted children. Great school if your child enjoys curricular chaos and/or playground politics. Teachers/staff lack basic classroom and playground management skills.
As a parent of a bright enthusiastic middle school boy, it is a delight to have him return home each day full of stories about what he has accomplished. His unique insights and strengths are valued by both staff and peers, a huge change from other schools he has attended. The EQ, or Emotional Intelligence, strand to the curriculum means that he learning about himself as a person and a member of a community in a positive, proactive way. As I am a teacher, I know that like any school, Synapse has areas in which it can grow. However, when I compare a typical middle school experience to the year we are having now, there is no other place in Silicon Valley that I would want him to be!
Synapse is breaking new ground in educating gifted students by incorporating emotional intelligence training into all aspects of the school, which not only creates a very warm and nurturing learning environment, but actually leads to further gains in academic performance. The only drawback our daughter has commented on since starting at Synapse is that the school currently lacks a play structure. However, rumor has it Synapse will be partnering with the Riekes Center, a unique sports facility (where many serious athletes train) that is conveniently located next to Synapse. Assuming this partnership goes through, this should help make up for both the current lack of athletic facilities as well as other arts facilities (e.g dark room for photography) and nature awareness education. (By the way, Synapse currently has an unusual partnership with Acterra in which students travel to the Arastradero preserve to do habitat restoration and environmental science projects). Although she would have done extremely well in any school, our daughter is thriving at Synapse both intellectually and socially and emotionally.
With the founder and former director of Nueva running the school, as well as just about every other known and respected name in gifted and progressive education on the advisory council, it was an easy decision for us to choose Synapse for our intellectually curious and driven daughter. The curriculum is challenging and creative and has, as an organizing principle, the Helical model. (This was important to us because we had heard that some other gifted schools lacked a cohesive curriculum or qualified curriculum developer to oversee what each teacher taught in each level or grade. ) Another big plus is that each child is given a full range of assessments from IQ test to assessments of creativity, social/ emotional intelligence and critical thinking which are used to develop personalized learning goals. Peer group for both our daughter and us as parents was high on our list when we were looking for a school and we couldn t be happier with what we found at Synapse. The children in our child s class are not only bright, but kind, sensitive and excited about learning. The other parents are interesting out-of-the-box thinkers, grounded and yet extremely well-educated and worldly.
We chose Synapse over Nueva and Helios because the teachers and administration at Synapse are superb. The teachers truly understand how to implement project-based education for gifted students. Furthermore, the administration is made up of the best of the best. They have all been involved in gifted education for many years; they took their years of knowledge and created an incredible educational experience for our children. Other things we are impressed by: the community of parents; the block schedule; the camaraderie among the students both within grade and across grades; and most importantly, the rave reviews my son gives us about his day every time we pick him up.
As a past employee, I can say that this is a very difficult place to work and grow, I have always loved children, working with them and dedicated my whole life to education but somehow the Administrators at Synapse don't seem to share my enthusiasm. They have abused their staff, forced some great educators away, and care very little about the education of the children rather than how much money can be made. In all I would say that this school was a very unprofessional and hostile environment. Synapse does has a great philosophy and if it can clean out the faulty leadership this school might soon be a place you could send your child.
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