I've been very happy with my family's experience at Topeka. At first I was worried because the population is very mixed and many are not able to contribute to the school financially, or with their time. But I soon found that I love the fact that it's multicultural and socio-economically diverse...a true picture of what the real world looks like. I believe this makes it an inclusive and non-competitive environment. The teachers have been wonderful and the academic expectation is high while still exposing kids to music and art, and emphasizing character and community. It comes from the top down with the fabulous principal who pushes to take the school to the next level, but does it with humor and warmth. Many parents think Beckford, Castlebay, or PRCS are the only acceptable options in the area, but if they looked a little closer they would see the gem that Topeka is. Test scores and money are both important, but I'm much more concerned with educating "the whole child". While no public school is perfect, my kids are engaged, challenged, loved, and supported so I'm a happy parent.
Topeka is a wonderful school.
My son loved his kindergarten teacher last year! Currently he is in first grade and he is learning so much, including reading chapter books! We participate in most school activities and definitely feel a sense of community!
This is my 9th year at Topeka and I still love it!! I’m one of those parents who is in the “inner circle” that everyone complains about—but guess what? My kids have NOT always gotten the “most coveted” teachers. One teacher was absolutely useless, but my son is still doing well. He tested gifted and continues to get awards. This is not a school where you drop off your kids and they automatically do well. Parents need to instill in their kids the importance of hard work and education.
The Principal recently “cleaned house” and the teachers left behind are EXCELLENT teachers. They are passionate, patient, kind, and eager to teach. Some teachers are not as coveted because they’re strict and disciplinarians. It has NOTHING to do with their ability to teach! If your kid gets in trouble a lot, it’s not because his/her teacher is bad.
If your complaint is you’re “not in the circle,” you have to nudge your way in there. You do that by being present—talk to the teachers and the other parents. Volunteer once in a while. I’m a working mom but all the teachers and administrators know who I am. Topeka offers plenty of ways to get involved---even if all you can spare is an hour here and there. But no, it’s not a guarantee to get your kids into certain classes.
Our Principal is awesome! She knows all the kids names. She dances with them, she jokes around with them. She emphasizes character, as well as academics. She is the MOST approachable person I have ever met, as a matter of fact, she approaches and greets you first!! She’s been that way since day 1!
Our child started the first year the school became an affiliated Charter. This created a few hiccups, due to the new title. But now, 2 years later, it is feeling like a well oiled machine. The involvement opportunities continue to grow, and it feels like a community of parents who all want the best for their children. It still seems like "older" families have been very stingy in helping out/ donating and must have been used to a school that didn't reach out for parent involvement. The PTA does it's best at keeping parents involved, keeping the website as current as possible, but i have noticed some "important" information not being posted in a timely manner. I don't blame this on the PTA, but on the staff, as I have spoken with the PTA about this, and they have mentioned the lag in receiving information to post. Our child has thrived while at Topeka, and continues to love going to school daily. The teachers we have had have been the perfect mix of firm and loving, keeping the kids on track and teaching responsibility for their own actions. We will be sending our younger children here when it is time as well.
Overall, this is a great school if you have a smart compliant child. Unfortunately, my son has an IEP for inattentive ADD. Although most teachers were good, including his resource teacher, his 3rd grade teacher was not. There were three specific incidents last year that, I feel, constitute bullying. Here are two. First, if my son didn t write his name on his homework, he got zero credit. Toward the end of the year, my son received, by accident, some of the other work from his class mates. This one particular student didn t put his name on it, so his teacher wrote his name on it. And, she gave him a 100%. How is that even fair? Second, six weeks before the last report card, he received a letter from his teacher that he would be getting three 2 s on his report card. At no point in the next six weeks, did she ask to schedule a meeting with us regarding his progress. Needless to say, we were shocked and upset to see fourteen 2 s and six 1 s on his report card! We have since left this school and his is flourishing at his new school. Be warned if you have a child that may have and IEP, non-compliant or just even extra needs.
Heavy favoritism is shown at this school. If you are not with the "in" crowd or clique, your child becomes low on the totem pole! There are a group of parents who mysteriously manage to get their kids together in the same class year after year with the most sought after teacher, yet we are told placing is random and you cannot request teachers. BULL. The favoritism is so blatant its disgusting!! You can even get another child kicked out of a class you want to get your kid in if you are part of the IN group! Just wrong in so many ways. Administration ought to be ashamed of themselves for creating divides within the school.
This was our first year in Topeka, we love the school. Our son enjoyed going to KG. I should say some situations were disappointing but I can not blame the school for it, the Principal was always caring and helpful. Our son quickly stopped enjoying coming to school after some of his classmates started being physically abusive, of which the teacher was witness and was the one who brought it to my attention but weeks passed and he didn't take any action to stop it, so we had to go to the Principal and then the problem stopped. We asked the teacher to sign our son in the reading program to motivate him to keep reading as he was doing at home prior to entering KG but he never did, few months later several incidents occurred that raised ours and others parents concerns but parents were afraid of speaking up after noticing the change the teacher would have towards the kids and their parents so most of them would go to the parents who weren't afraid of speaking up and some others just kept quiet. The school can not take action if they are not aware of the situation. We are glad this first year is over and we are confident the following years will be much better.
Topeka is a fabulous school that we feel blessed to have been a part of for the last three years. Tomorrow our youngest culminates, so our time at Topeka is almost over, and we will miss it terribly. The Principal is fantastic! Incredibly high-energy, caring, dedicated -- in short, amazing! Teachers and staff are great. PTA is amazing.
My daughter is culminating tomorrow and I can't help but feel extremely grateful for her 6 years at Topeka. She has had wonderful, caring, patient, and intelligent educators year after year. They have encouraged, motivated, and mentored her. What makes Topeka great is the approachable principal who is very much invested in the school. You can tell she really cares about the kids and the community. The teachers are amazing! They make learning so much fun! The parental involvement is awesome! In any organization, it's difficult to get people to volunteer. However, at Topeka, so many parents volunteer and we truly give it our best. Our PTA is comprised of both stay-at-home and work-out-of-the-home parents. Everyone's welcome to pitch in as much as they can.
"A terrible teacher" that's how one of his colleagues described him. Many of his decisions and information sharing throughout the year were questionable but it was overall an ok year, the experience was a little harder on some kids and parents due to some drama created by the same teacher. He would favorite one of the kids due to his mother and he would allow her to even yell at the kids while volunteering in the class. Besides that my child enjoyed kindergarten and I'm glad is almost over. Parents in this school are amazing, a lot of hard worker volunteers. The staff is ok, we noticed a lot of damage control, kids are encouraged to tell on each other which most parents didn't like, sometimes we noticed the staff would tell the parents what they think they want to hear. Overall is a great school, with a few teachers who need better training or be reassigned and a staff that could be more friendly, respectful and committed to the integrity, education and well being of the children, and the peace of mind of the parents instead of just covering each other's backs. There is a lot of room for improvement and I hope I can see some of those changes come to live soon.