Strong leadership problem. The dictatorship of the incompetent MD keeps staff fluctuation very high. The Preschool program is terrific and the elementary has a very nice program. The academics after elementary is below average. Nice parent community but not very motivated middle school students.
Unlike some of the disgruntled parents who gave GAIS bad reviews, our family has loved this school ever since we started it in 2005. The curriculum challenges our children to be at their best while also developing critical and global thinking, confidence, and self paced learning. They also really have fun. The test scores comparing our students with other international schools, as well as other Californian schools are outstanding. That proves that the curriculum works, no matter how unconventional it appears. There are no drug or violence problems at the school and the community is great.
Great school from preschool to Kindergarten. Beyond that, there is a lack of consistency and coordination in teaching, camouflaged by the magic words "IB" and "MYP". Fluctuation among teachers has been high. The IB projects, although interesting, are challenging for teachers and parents, not leaving enough time to cover the basics. Families have been leaving the school for various reasons, including disappointment by the school's poor communication skills and difficulties to address bullying.
We cannot say enough good things about GAIS. Our child began at GAIS last Fall in the MYP Program after becoming dissatisfied with our local public school. Our child desired foreign language courses which were not available at the old school as well as a more challenging academic environment. It was one of the best moves we have ever made. The school community welcomed us all and our child settled in the first week with new friends, less Middle School drama and an academic pace that fit to a T. This holistic approach to learning, which is the basis of the IB Programme at GAIS, allows students who are self-motivated, like our child, to really expand their minds and develop their creativity. Nine months after beginning at GAIS, our child has become a confident, caring teenager with a keen interest in World events, Science and Math (and the grades to prove it ) as well as a command of two foreign languages. Our evening conversations around the dinner table have become more and more interesting through the school year. We are so proud of our child and so grateful to GAIS's outstanding teachers and caring staff for helping to prepare our child for high school and beyond.
This is our daughter's 9nth year at GAIS (German-American International School) from kindergarten through pre-school all the way through middle school. We couldn't have chosen a better school nor a better environment - our daughter has excelled academically, she loves to go to school every day, and most importantly, her intellectual curiosity and enthusiasm to learn are direct result of the fantastic IB curriculum and the small class size. Granted, an IB Programme is not for everyone as it doesn't fit traditional route learning models, but for students who are engaged and motivated to explore, there is no better model to prepare kids. I am truly shocked by some of the very negative comments on this site. In our experience this is a truly wonderful and caring schol and with a 7:1 student/teacher ratio one of the best deals one can find on the mid peninsula.
A hidden jewel of a school. We have two kids at the school and have been there over five years. There is a waiting list to get into school, as the location of the campus is convenient, and it is a beautiful green oasis in the Willows neighborhood of Menlo Park. The students score off the scales in Math, Science and English which is another reason the school is so popular. The Middle school is expanding exponentially, and the school has submitted a request to increase the capped total student population of 300 to the Menlo Park planning division. The recent changes to the Middle school which have caused a tremendous increase in applications (ie not requiring any fluency in German for new Middle School applicants) as well as the requirement that students have a laptop computer from the 3rd grade on, have resulted in a couple of families leaving the school and posting numerous inaccurate reviews (all within a four week period and using different alias's). Students who graduate from the GAIS Middle School (it only goes up to the 8th grade) and opt to return to the public school system have all excelled academically in their new schools. Fund raising is very low key.
I have to agree with the reviewer who noted that the programme goes downhill after 3rd grade. The middle school is chaotic- constantly changing the grading system, course requirements, curriculum, etc. The laptops are indeed a distraction, and some teachers cannot control their classes. Leadership seems inexperienced and attempting to do too much all at once to gain recognition. Staff turnover is high, which isn't a good sign. There is a big push to increase student numbers and to get parents to post positive reviews to drum up business. However, preschool and early elementary grades were terrific, and we were very satisfied in those years. I do recommend looking elsewhere for older grades.
Don't know about the higher grades yet as my children only visited Preschool and elementary grades so far. I found the school to be a great place for my kids. The teachers are caring and compassionate. The outdoor space of the preschool is fantastic. My children are thriving emotionally, socially as well as academically and are enthused every day to go to school. What more can I wish for.
The International Middle School and grades 3-5 at elementary school (IB Programme) are an experiment at this school. After 3rd grade the curriculum starts to fall off and is not up to par with either international or California standards. The focus at GAIS in the upper years is more about building play structures, implementing complex communication software, requiring laptops for middle-school kids (a huge distraction - they still haven't learned to spell properly, but are supposed to prepare PowerPoint presentations) and dealing with high-brow questions without giving the kids the basic foundations. The lack of text books or a clearly communicated curriculum makes it impossible to supplement the learning with tutors, since it's not clear what the children are supposed to learn. Adding a third language at 6th grade (Spanish or French) appears to be a benefit. Yet, it is taught in such a "playful" manner that the children never learn to properly conjugate verbs or memorize vocabulary. The school started out with a great idea, and the IB has its benefits. However, the way it is being implemented at this time is not preparing the students to excel in public or private schools.
Not very excited about GAIS. I had 2 children at this school (for 3 years in Primary and Middle School). There is no consistency in the academics and the academic staff is changing a lot. Communication between the Head of School and the parents could improve dramatically. We wouldn't choose this school again for our children.
Both my kids (5 & 8) have loved GAIS from the beginning. Each spent two years in the pre-school and then kindergarten with the eldest now in 2nd grade. It has been a joyous experience watching them learn and grow with the help of the wonderful educators and following the International Baccalaureate (IB) Program. It couldn't be a better environment for kids become strong, independent and caring individuals.
I have 2 children in the preschool and we intend to stay at the school for their elementary and potentially middle school education as well. My children love going to school here, they are excited every single day. The teachers are so creative and engaged. The IB program is in full swing even at the preschool level so the children are already excited about learning. Currently they are studying "the garden" so they come home with their notebooks to draw pictures of various critters and plants in our backyard, and to glue in leaves and flowers. They couldn't be having more fun! As a non-German speaker I feel comfortable at the school. All information meetings are held in English, and when school plays or other activities are held in German, my children take special pride in translating for me. The preschool facilities are wonderful, words cannot really describe the space. The kids ride bikes around the paths through their garden, swing on ropes hanging from the trees, hammer nails into wood in the carpentry area... After school my kids take karate and piano lessons right on campus. It's a great school!
GAIS is such a great place. They really love children here. And the IB program is such a refreshing change from the public schools these days with their heavy focus on academics and testing. With the inquiry based approach, they teach kids how to learn, think critically, and love learning. There is a lot of parent involvement and a great community. We don't speak German but sent our child here because we like the IB program and school philosophy.
we are third year family here. we couldnt dream of a better environment for our child. the preschool, its director and teachers/assistant teachers and facilities are amazing. we chose this school very carefully, we had high hopes, but this school exceeds any and all expectations. our child has thrived here, never in 3 years has he not wanted to be there. we speak 50/50 english/german at home and this school has really boosted his confidence, vocabulary and general ability. one of the reasons we chose this school is the three times we visited, we watched the children and were impressed with the smiles and engagement. where at other preschools we were saddened by unhappy looking bored children. another aspect of this school i love, the staff knows their children and the families, we have a very strong sense of community.
PYP school with great academic approach, highly motivated and experienced teaching staff and very cooperative and supportive administration. Great School!
Both our children (now 4th grade and 1st grade) have been here since preschool, and have thrived. We don't speak German at home, but have a German au pair to help with homework. We love the IB program, and the small, involved community.
Excellent educational and social environment. International baccalaureate curriculum combines elements from American and European curricula. Many nationalities represented at the school. Rich extracurricular program that includes sciences, tennis, karate, basketball, drama, creative writing, arts, music, choir, handiwork, and cooking. First graders learn English and German from the beginning and neither is taught as a 'foreign' language.
GAIS offers a great community, German immersion, is an IB world school, has a great play based preschool, challenging and fun elementary and middle school, small classes and best of all - my kids love their school!
I have children at GAIS, one in preschool and one in elementary school. Both of them love going to school and really like their teachers. Even though reading started in 1st grade, he was ready to learn and read in both German and English in no time. He now reads in both languages up to 2 grade levels ahead. The preschool is play based but has many structured activities and are structured around units throughout the year, in which they learn about different topics, such as the five senses, families, etc. The teachers are very dedicated and many have been there for many years. Fantastic play yard.
We had excellent experiences with our children, both are now fluent german speakers. Teachers are dedicated and excellent. Both my children have so far loved their experience at the school and have excellent learning results. Because academics start in 1. Grade I see a love for learning in the kids. This is in accordance with brain development of young children.
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