This is a safe place to share your honest opinions of a school, whether good or bad.
Barron Park Elementary School5
Posted December 11, 2013
- a parent
We moved to Barron Park from the UK and have been very pleased with the school ethos, welcome and academic approach. The parent community is very supportive of the Principal and everyone is open and warm with newcomers. The classrooms are well managed and focussed on learning - all the kids I've seen are well behaved and quick to befriend our children. There's more paper based learning and homework than our children had in London but I think the academic standards are comparable with high performing London schools. One stand out improvement from the UK is the exemplary extra-curricular activities available on site. We've been very pleased.
Barron Park (BP) has afforded my family the best experience in Palo Alto. We moved from a great private school in NY and the transition has been flawless. BP offers a unique diversity experience, and it's what my family refers to as the mini UN. Although the smallest school in the district, over 50 countries are represented at BP, who not only boasts of its diversity, but celebrates it as a learning experience. My 1st and 3rd graders have grown; they are more empathetic to children with disabilities; express themselves better through writing; confident in confronting math problems; developing a heightened interest in science and technology and a passion for coding and programing at their level; they're creating livelong friendships; and so much more. We're grateful for the warm and welcoming school community where new and old families feel at home. With principal Magdalena at the helm, who is doing a super job, while enabling her team and students to aim for excellence, to a supportive staff that ensures that each child has an opportunity to flourish and a school that is aligned with the district s curriculum, Barron Park Elementary School is one of the best schools in Palo Alto.
While we're only a little over a year into this, with a son now in 1st grade, I give Barron Park elementary an A+. Our son has thrived. He's a bright but extremely high energy kid who needs fairly close attention, and so far the staff has answered the call. Our son's kindergarten teacher was amazing, with conflict resolution skills arguably worthy of a Nobel Peace Prize. I will always cherish the memories of the sing-a-longs he led on guitar that welcomed each new day. From our exposure thus far to our son's first-grade teacher, and our communications with other parents, it's clear that Barron Park sets a high bar for teaching quality. And we've been impressed by Principal Magdalena, who every morning greets each child by name at the school entrance, enhancing the smiles and laughter that make elementary school so precious. Oh, and as a pediatrician and clinical researcher who looks at data all the time, it was very clear to me that the slightly lower API scores were a non-issue, nothing more than a reflection of the diversity that makes the school so wonderful.
When I was first evaluating elementary schools, I found that it was really tough. There is only a limited amount of information that was available on the internet; the information seemed heavily weighted to test scores. We were zoned for Barron Park and I have to admit I was a bit worried based on the lower than average scores (for Palo Alto). In the end I couldn't have been happier for my kids to be educated at Barron Park. This is our fifth year at the school and have been blessed with wonderful teachers and being part of the smallest elementary school in Palo Alto (less than 350 kids). Also I learned that when I aggregated the test scores by demographic, Barron kids score similarly to other Palo Alto schools. Regardless of test scores, we have enjoyed being here and being part of a change in the school. Barron now offers many wonderful programs unique to Palo Alto: full-day kindergarten, spanish language in K, 1 &2, a technology specialist, super noon programs for all kids, a range of afterschool programs, and a very diverse population with students from around the world. We LOVE Barron and feel lucky to be part of this special school community.
Barron Park is the hidden gem of Palo Alto. Parents who stay away because of the API scores are foolish because the quality and dedication of our teachers is unparalleled even within PAUSD. Plus, as one of the most culturally and economically diverse schools in the district, Barron Park is teaching my children about more than academics but about the importance of acceptance and appreciation for all people. Barron Park is a very special place with an amazing community of teachers and parents that comes together to solve problems and think about creative new ways to make our school continuously more fantastic both academically and socially. With our new programs our students are effectively learning with technology, getting even more hands on science, and even pioneering ways to have every student learn Spanish. My family is so lucky to be part of this community!
I agree with the parent who wrote about the API scores being the only strike against the school. It's really not fair that such an excellent school has gotten a bad-rap because of a 3-digit number, and also that the retired principal's shadow is still hanging on and damaging how people on the outside of the school perceive the school. New parents to the neighborhood or PAUSD should give this school a chance, come and visit, see for yourself what a gem it is. The teachers and staff are excellent, and I'm very confident that my children are receiving the same high-quality education as any other PAUSD elementary school would give. My children will be well-prepared in all aspects of academics and social-skills when they move onto middle school. They will have received a well-rounded education that teaches to the whole child, not just to the test. And they will have made good friends along the way. My kids even pop in to visit their old teachers classrooms and talk about what they remember and what they liked best in those years.
I love this school and my kids are so happy here. Some reviews here are old and about the old principal, and that principal was of the mind-set of "nothing new, no improvements, if it ain't broke" and that really hurt the school, but she's gone now and the school has done a complete 180-degree turn around. The new principal and a very motivated parent-body have brought so many great changes to the school! I can't list them all here!... The JR Museum teaches science units in each class, the K-2 grades have a partial Spanish program, and BP is the only school in PAUSD with full-day kindergarten. The new face and image of the school are great - there are noon activities such as art and zumba and MIT scratch. It's a smaller school too with only 340+ kids so the personal attention they receive is greater. Some PAUSD schools are 550-600. And for those non-BP parent who are afraid of low test scores and bullies? Please, you don't think that a school of 550 kids doesn't have any bad apples. The low API scores is the only thing that BP has against it - and that's not a fair evaluation of an entire school that truly is a special place....I'd rather have my kids go here than anywhere else.
Having moved from Missouri, we came to Palo Alto/ Barron Park in Jan 2013. I must be honest, BP was not my 1st choice for PA schools, but we were able to get all 3 kids at the same school, which was important to us. Our kids came from private schools, so our expectations were very high. However, we were beyond shock when my older 2 children were nearly 2 semesters behind in math, and behind in reading and writing as well. The amazing part of this story is how the teachers bent over backwards to bring my children up to speed. I didn't have to lead this effort, they did!!! They are used to it. Barron Park has a very diverse population. At 5th grade graduation, there were 55 countries represented! Many non-english-speaking, explaining the low test scores that I was so fearful of. But what a great experience for my kids!! My kids loved the campus and the activites at recess: Taewkwondo, Art, Zumba, chorus, Scratch Club... There are field trips about once a month for each class, and prof. chefs that came to the school to teach about food and to let them taste fun healthy snacks. The PTA & principal (3 yrs) are amazing - in time Barron Park will be at the top of the list.
Barron Park School is PAUSD's best kept secret. I think I may regret posting this because then many people will know about this hidden gem in Palo Alto. This is the smallest school in the district, the Principal knows every child by name. The intimate feeling and strong sense of community is amazing. I have 3 children at this school and they all love and cherish their school. My kids have have learned to be great people and loving citizens. I have kids that are all academically strong and the school has done a great job offering them more material to challenge them at their level. Our family is so proud to call Barron Park our school.
Barron Park School is the best kept secret of the district. The teachers are individually phenomenal and collectively life changing. Children thrive in this sweet rustic school where unity and community remain a top priority. Our Principal leads with an open heart that inspires parents to take ownership. My boys are almost ready to move on to middle school, they are academically ready, and have grown into confident and compassionate young men, due in no small part to this amazing school.