What happened to St. Lawrence O'Toole School? It's quite sad to me, because I have lived in this neighborhood for more than fifty years and I always enjoyed having the school in our neighborhood. My husband and I used to go down for the walkathon and for different events the school offered. We used to make a point to go to the school masses so we could hear the children sing. Most of all, we enjoyed seeing happy children and young parents out in our neighborhood. Gone are the days of the students planting flowers on the greenstrips on High Street. Gone are the school masses. Most of all though, gone are the smiling faces and helpfulness. My husband and I walked down for the walkathon last week and all we saw were frowns. No smiling, laughing children, like in years past. I was appalled by the language I heard coming from one woman in a hat and when I asked a student who she was, she said it was her teacher. When I asked where the principal was, she pointed to a woman who was jogging with headphones in her ears. She wasn't even speaking to parents or children and when I tried to wave her over to me she just kept going. My driveway was blocked for almost ten minutes the other day, which made my daughter late for an appointment. When she asked the car to move, the man who was very upset, told her the backup was due to the principal's new carpool rules and we should call the school to complain. I tried to call the school twice and no one answers the phone. My daughter went down to the school on Friday afternoon to speak to someone and no one answered the door. Now I read what others say and I am sad. What happened to our lovely neighborhood school?
The only reason why we stayed this year is because we love the third grade teacher! She was going to be my child's kindergarten teacher, which is why we originally chose the school, but then she left. Now she's back teaching third grade and she is awesome. She's smart, funny, caring, and on her game. I was blown away at back to school night when she was talking about common core standards and next gen science standards, which I've never heard another teacher at SLOT talk about. She's patient and is determined to help each child succeed and have fun while learning. She works with kids, no matter what their level is. She makes math and science fun, by adding hands on activities, videos, and even field trips. She communicates regularly, which hasn't been the case in previous years and runs an organized (i.e. clean!) and disciplined classroom. My daughter comes home everyday saying how much she loves her teacher and tells me all about what she has learned. We are so lucky to have her as our teacher this year.
The easiest way to say it: this will be my children's last year at St. Lawrence. St. Lawrence O'Toole fails in every way. The discipline is horrible. Kids don't even stop talking for morning prayer, forget about the behavior in church or during public events (pizza night, for example). Most of the teachers don't even bother to correct behavior anymore. The students seem to be learning much less than public school students. My nieces go to a public school and are in the same grades as my children. The work my kids do doesn't even compare to what they do. Why am I paying all this money when they could be getting a better education at a public school? The principal is in her second year and is trying to run the school like it's a high school. The kids do whatever they want, when they want and she seems to spend money like it grows on a tree. There's a fundraiser every other day, but she is building herself a new office. If I can get my kids into a different Catholic school next year, I'm going to. My worst fear is they won't pass an entrance exam because they've learned nothing the last three years.
I pay tuition at S.L.O.T and pay for my child to go to kumon for math and reading tutoring. She struggles and I know teachers can't work miracles but I also don't want to see her be ignored and passed on every year. I asked the kindergarten teacher if she should repeat k but the last principal said no. She's ready to move on. I think they wanted the enrollment for first grade. Her star tests and iowa tests were always low and even with the tutoring I don't think she's where she should be. There's no help for low students. Only her first grade teachers said there was a problem, but others have given her good grades, even though I told them there was a problem. I'm not even a teacher and I know there's a problem. I just don't think she could get in to another catholic school. I feel stuck at this school.
Being honest, St. Lawrence O'Toole is not the school that it was when my child enrolled in kindergarten. He's in middle school now. I don't expect a school to stay the same for a decade - curriculum changes, principals retire, teachers leave - but I certainly didn't expect SLOT to go careening off of a cliff either. If my child wasn't so close to graduation, we'd be gone by now. The parents and students are wonderful and I couldn't pull my child away from his friends and what he knows so well. However, the curriculum is seriously lacking (except in middle school math), there is no communication from the administration about anything, the discipline at the school is completely nonexistent and the school plant itself is falling apart. The administration consists of a principal who has no experience at the elementary level and little desire to become educated about the academic, social, and emotional needs of K-8 children, especially children of color, a vice-principal with no administrative experience and a secretary who is as unfriendly as she is inexperienced. It is not uncommon for a parent to be refused entry through the front door of the school or to have to call 10+ times before someone finally answers the phone. We thought it was bad under the previous administration, but now it's worse! With the return of some teachers who had previously left, I thought surely things would turn around. Despite their clear efforts, it hasn't. For the same amount of money I pay at SLOT right now, my child could be attending another Catholic school and have art, music, computers, a challenging curriculum, and administrators who know what they are doing. It's such a shame.
When reflecting upon the number of schools my wife and I considered for our daughter and son, St. Lawrence O'Toole excelled - academically, student to faculty ratio, matriculation to the best high schools, extracurricular activities, a student body representative of the diverse and soulful cultures of the Bay Area, consistent parental involvement, location, comfort, integrity... We agree that we made the right choice of primary schools for our children to attend. Now with one of the most sought after, and well respected administrators as principal, Mrs. Jean Kuznik, SLOT has soared to the upper echelon of academic learning centers that prepare children to become independent, critical thinkers and future leaders. Mrs. Kuznik and faculty have cultivated a learning environment that encourages children to use advanced technological tools, while maintaining fundamental and time-honored teaching methods that challenge and advance our children's learning processes. Both of my children have shared several times that "School is fun." Fun? How can this be? Yet both are more confident and proud of their achievements and look forward to the next school day.
I have been a parent at the school for six (6) years and now have all three of my children there. I have also had the privilege of serving on the school board, volunteering as a coach and serving in a few fundraising capacities. My wife and I have been very happy with the school and in particular enjoy the camaraderie between the students and the supportive learning environment. We have also found the teachers and principal responsive to parent concerns. A few initiatives that have been launched based on parent feedback have been the expanded music program and the Technology Club. The school continues to grow and provides a very well rounded offering in ethics, athletics, academics and student life.
I have two children who attend this school. My youngest just completed 4th grade. I didn't undersand the previous post regarding hours of homework since my daughter had at the most an hour's worth of homework, and that was a rare occasion. She was a focused child who did extremely well in class and learned so much. I volunteered in this class quite a few times, so I was able to see the quality of instruction. I enjoyed being there during Langauge Arts when students would read an excerpt from a book or short story from an author. The teacher brought in other books from that particular author so students could have extended learning beyond their textbook. My daughter enjoyed all of the field trips, and so did I. I liked the fact that the field trips were integrated with what was being taught in class, showing students that what they were learning in class does pertain to the world outside. I highly recommend this school.
My child is in her final year (8th) at St. Lawrence O'Toole and has been here since Kindergarten. The strong academic program is proven out in her high practice HSPT scores, along with several others in her class. St. Lawrence offers advanced math, sports, community involvement projects, tech club and other activities in a faith based environment. Great teachers who care about their students and encourage them to be high achievers. Sorry to the person who didn't like their child's 4th grade teacher, we thought he rocked!
The school has a great sense of community as the older students look out and help the younger students. The teachers up until the second grade were amazing and nurturing. However, there is a lack of focus on basic and fundamental education. The third and fourth grade teachers are horrible and have antiquated teaching methods if any at all. The fourth grade teacher who should either retire or be forced to retire gives students hours of homework (until 9:30 pm) and only grades based on test scores, not giving credit to all the time and effort the child has spent on class work and homework. For a school that charges a tuition I would expect to the school to have advanced and innovative educators. If you are looking for a school that coaches ALL teachers to set their students up for success then this is not the place for you.