This is a safe place to share your honest opinions of a school, whether good or bad.
Posted April 05, 2014
- a parent
My students both attended Sequoyah School and got just the education that the school states in its vision. "A Sequoyah education challenges the mind, nurtures the heart and celebrates human dignity." Most importantly, they learned to think and to ask good questions. I am writing this for those who are worried about the academics. One went on to Westridge and then to Haverford College. That person is now a freelance journalist and has traveled in many different countries. The other graduated from the University of California, Berkeley in Computer Science. Sequoyah is not a school for everyone, but it teachers students how to be life-long learners, good readers and writers, mathematical thinkers and to question everything they hear. It was the school for us!
I have three children who went all the way through Sequoyah School, and it was a magical experience. In the 8th grade they scored very high on the ISEE, got into the top high schools, and were very well prepared when transitioning into those high schools. At Sequoyah they learned to think critically and creatively, and that's priceless.
A pretty campus and lots of feel good hippy style projects. Not an academic school though, so why go here, especially in the upper grades? You would be better off at your local public school, where there is clear accountability.
This school does progressive education right. It's not the anti-technology, hippie school people might assume it to be. My daughter is now entering the 6th grade here, and although her time is not wasted doing busy work, the curriculum is rigorous, but always appropriately challenging for her. My daughter is a kid who could easily do very well at a school like Poly or Prep, however, the reasons she has thrived at Sequoyah have much more to do than her test scores. At Sequoyah she is challenged to think deeper and broader about subjects or ideas. She is challenged to engage her peer groups in discussions where ideas may very well differ from hers. She is taught discipline without harshness. Last night at back to school night, her teacher summed it up for me. He said, "Although at Sequoyah we push creativity, it is important for our students to learn discipline. Every artist still needs discipline to be able to successfully accomplish their goals and continue to grow in their practice." Self Confidence is another very important part of the teaching here. The school has many different types of ways they challenge students to practice and grow as self confident individuals.
I have three kids who are, of course, very different learners. Sequoyah School meets each of them where they are, helping them where they need it and opened up opportunities to push themselves where they're strong. My kids are curious and confident learners and good at their school subjects. School staff and administrators show immense respect for kids and families during conflicts and when it's tough, and during easy, every day interactions.
Sequoyah is more than just an incredible school. It is a place that teaches what it means to be both self sufficient and an indispensable part of a community. The way this affects the kids (poise, focus, confidence, empathy, resolve, humor, kindness, zeal) is amazing to see. There are so many things that contribute to this at Sequoyah. I haven't read the reviews yet on this site, but I imagine many are well discussed? One of my favorites is the way the kids are regularly intermeshed amongst age levels, in both structured and unstructured ways. Besides the obvious feeling of community this promotes, it gives the kids such a richer learning environment (academically and socio-emotionally) than they would have had otherwise. I like to think that this helps the teenagers (it's K-8) not feel so jaded and withdrawn as tends to happen. I'll never forget my surprise at seeing the whole junior high class taking part in the huge circle for human rights day, holding the hands of 6 year-olds and singing songs - not a rolled eye in the house. This is because they are authentic in their kindness toward their school community and their world.
This is a school that only works for children who fit a particular mold. Teachers and administration have little interest and no skill in working with children who don't fit into their criteria for getting with their program. Children who don't fit their mold, who may need slightly more structure or support are left to their own devices to flail and fail publicly and painfully. Just this past year two children were forced to leave before the year's end because of the staff's inability to help them navigate the environment and the teachers' indifference to their struggles.
Our child has been at Sequoyah for years, and we are so sad that they don't have a high school or we would be there through senior year! The teachers are dedicated, intelligent, inspirational and caring. The teachers are available to both students and parents at all times either via email or phone. Sequoyah gave our child the the foundation for critical thinking, to explore and to be curious, to be empathetic and to be kind. The students there have a deep sense of who they are, and that they can achieve anything. They take pride in their work. The curriculum can be challenging but they offer support for those who need it. My child always looks forward to going to school. I cannot say enough positive things about Sequoyah. It is not for parents concerned with the maintenance of educational standards based on testing, sitting quietly and still in a classroom and motivation through grades. However, if you want a happy child who is motivated, empathetic, concerned about the environment, who chooses experiences over materialism, Sequoyah is the right choice.
Sequoyah School has been our touchstone for nine years now. Our daughter has one more year there and our son is moving into the upper classes. Both kids have received academic and emotional support beyond what we would expect from a school. They both have learning differences which the teachers and administration were pro-active in having addressed. Both our children have been given the support they needed without their self esteem being compromised. I don't know of more dedicated, holistic, resourceful group of teachers or administrators.
I have been a Sequoyah parent for three years, with two children currently enrolled (kindergarten and 2nd grade). Although my children couldn't be more different in personality and learning style, Sequoyah has proven to be a perfect environment for each of them to thrive and develop as humans and individuals. I am consistently impressed with the teaching staff, not only for their creative and holistic approaches to learning, but also because they truly know my children and are able to provide individualized feedback and support as needed. Embracing a progressive approach to education has been a new experience for our family, but certainly not a difficult one given the positive outcomes we have witnessed so far in our children - confidence, strong sense of self, heightened empathy, love of learning (and of camping!), and yes, academic achievements, too, including a strong foundation in the "three Rs". I'm excited to think of what's to come for them and for us as we continue our Sequoyah journey.