This is a safe place to share your honest opinions of a school, whether good or bad.
German-American International School5
Posted August 02, 2014
- a parent
A great daycare! Our son attended for a year starting around his 3rd birthday. We are English speakers. We looked at GAIS because we wanted our son to learn German, but we chose it because it impressed us as a general school. The language immersion is great, but we loved the school as a whole. The staff is warm, supportive, creative, thoughtful, and serious about learning. Feedback to parents is excellent. Parents get to know each other through volunteer activities, and most spend a fair amount of time in the classroom. Teachers speak only German to the kids but speak good English to parents. The structure is play-based, so the main emphasis is not reading or math, but we found the curriculum well-planned and even rigorous, though the kids don't know it. The daycare classrooms are mixed age, from older two-year olds to middle five-year olds. Teachers were always aware of our child and could give a good account of his activities and his mood. He learned. We learned. We all had a great time.
Great small school with International program! We originally had our kids in one of the best school districts in the US but decided to switch to GAIS - our best decision ever! Not only the chance to learn 3 languages but also the approach to teach connected thinking is second to none. The school has big plans to move to a new campus and to expand to High School. Can't wait to see it implemented.
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.