This is a phenomenal school. It's unfortunate that parents would jump up and give the entire school one star based upon the fact that the LAUSD was going to bring in a federally mandated program - a program that won't be coming to Castlebay this year after all. But, the teachers, the staff, the kids and the parents are really dedicated and the parent group works very hard to make the school the best that it can be.
I am a student at this school, and I love mr mena! I am so fortunate to have him. He is really a cool teacher!! All my teachers , and all the teachers are very advanced. Mrs. Littlejohn, the principal, believes in everyone's potential, too. This is the best school ever, I tell you, BEST!!!!!!
We love Mr. Mena couldn't of asked for a better teacher , my child actually enjoys going to school and learning ...every child should be lucky to have him !! Mrs. Dorfman is also another favorite ...and a great new addition to the school , mrs. Littlejohn , she's brought so many wonderful changes to our school. From a happy parent :-)
This is a great school and they have some very experienced teachers. My son had Mrs Buchanan last year and she does a lot of extra things in her class, incorporating stuff she's taught in upper level grades. My son still amazes me with stuff he's learned from her class. Ms Littlejohn, the principal is very personable and attentive to the students. She has brought improvements to the school, in small ways, like keeping the campus clean, increasing security measures (even before Sandy Hook), and recognizing outstanding students over the PA system. Parent involvement also has a lot to do with the success of the school and in this area, it can vary from class to class and year to year. Students get so much more when their parents are involved and engaged. There are many opportunities for helping out, but sometimes it seems it always the same small group that is pitching in. (unfortunately, I don't agree with the other review below - if that was years ago with other players involved, that should be discounted. As a parent, I'd want to know how the school is rated, now, not 10+ years ago).
Castlebay is a very pretty school situated in a "nice" area. It has a lot of pros and a few cons. Pros: Parent involvement is great and kids come to school ready to learn. Very dedicated teaching staff. Good principal. Good test scores. Has an intimate, small school feeling. Cons: Not enough emphasis is put on remediation within the general education program with an over reliance on special education to meet this need. Just became an affiliated charter and has not figured out how to make the most of this new status (yet). Overall- very good school with a trend towards improvement.
I agree with the previous parent's comment more than 100 percent about the on site after school care provided by YMCA. The service is horrible. The staff does not care about the children at all. They just sit and chat and the children can do anythining of their own. They only provide one hour to do the homework and rush the kids to finish so they can play outside and the staff can sit under a tree and enjoy chatting and relaxing. Castlebay Y is not a good afterschool program at all. I decided to take my child out and to place in a more professional after school program.
The school itself is good. One of the best in the North Valley - strong involvment from parents, mostly great teachers and administrators (the new principal is great). The problem is with the onsite afterschool childcare by YMCA. The Y staff is nice but young and inexperienced. I often see kids playing way far from the building, sometimes out of sight from where the staff members are sitting and chatting under the tree. The monthly fees are not cheap for the hours they provide care and yet, parents are asked to do donations and pay for misc. things. Recently we paid for the cost of new earthquake kit which the squirrels got into and ate some food in it. We were told it is mandatory to pay because they are required to have these kits. If it's mandatory for a childcare center to have earthquake kits, shouldn't they be responsible for them? For those working parents, you might as well consider paying a bit more and send your kids to an affordable private school with better afterschool care.
Castlebay is a wonderful school. It's a wonderful place to grow up during your youngest childhood years, in a community of caring parents, inspiring teachers, and experienced administration. The good family values taught at home really show in the attitudes and behaviors of the students. The academics as well as the social atmosphere is absolutely wonderful - my son has tested with an IQ of 154 (highly-gifted genius level), and he simply thrives here with the support of his teachers and his wonderful friends. Not only does he get his academic challenge, but he learns how to communicate with others in a very healthy way -- which is extremely important, especially important, for a person with such intellectual giftedness. Part of it, is because he is not alone. Lots of kids at Castlebay are tested into the "gifted" category. My son has friends with whom he can share his interests in nature and science and building with, and at the same time, he also has friends who teach him what "good friendship" is all about. The kids at Castlebay are the most amazing thing about this school - more so, than their curriculum or parent involvement or test scores. WE LOVE THIS PLACE!!!
.We want to love this school but there are some obstacles. The positive: This school is surrounded by a great community with caring parents who donate time, talent, ideas and money like nowhere else. There is a culture among the parents that education is VERY important and that is why this school performs well (on paper). There is an abundance of parent participation. Also, a nice enrichment program to help round out the children's education and provide afterschool activities. For a school with a great a reputation, there is a surprising lack of pride. Sadly, we have found some of the teachers seem to be winding up their career and are simply going through the motions. There is little respect shown to the students by some faculty. The children are herded through the campus and spoken to like farm animals. Budget cuts seem to be a daily theme. If only this staff would realize respecting the students and treating them well didn't cost any money. Kids are obviously getting an adequate education. However, we've seen little inspiration and the school seems to lack "heart." Could be an amazing school with some visionary leadership.
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