Sequoyah is a great school! We have been part of this community for three years. We were accepted at multiple private schools in Pasadena and our children have attended summer camps at several of them. I can safely say that I have a solid understanding of many of the best schools in this area and Sequoyah is doing something special and important beyond what the other schools deliver. We believe that education is a balance of priorities - academics, social responsibility, emotional development, creativity, and respect for the environment. Sequoyah strives to educate all of its students in all of these areas. This is a tall order and because clear-cut markers of success found in traditional programs, a gold start on a paper or an A on a test, are not present it can be harder for parents to understand if their child is progressing. But progress is abundantly clear in their junior high school students and graduates. Flat out these kids are incredibly happy and it shows. They are self-confident, engaged, life-long independent learners that know how to ask the right questions and dive deep into understanding. We feel lucky to be part of the Sequoyah community.
We’ve been parents at Sequoyah School for nine years and it’s been an overwhelmingly positive experience. The small student-teacher ratio allows for individualized attention and the school really does nurture its kids to become lifelong learners. Each year my son has formed close bonds with his teachers who have stepped in for extra support when we needed them.. The school emphasizes collaboration and active participation when it comes to learning. Thumbs up all the way from us.
This school looks progressive and inclusive on the outside but, if you care to look deeper, the story is really quite often the opposite. My husband and I are parents of a Sequoyah student and have spoken over the years to many other parents at Sequoyah--most of us have become increasingly unhappy with the state of affairs at this school. Here is a bird's-eye view of some of the issues...
Contrary to its down-to-earth public persona, Sequoyah is actually elitist in nature. There are exceptions made by its administrators in accommodating select students' needs while neglecting the needs of others. So much for an egalitarian mission.
As far as teaching goes, one of the most common complaints amongst parents is that there is no standard metric for measuring student progress within and across school years. The teaching staff is allowed to evade accountability for shortcomings in their pedagogy, and they are also not held accountable for their reticence in keeping parents informed of the progress of their children in the classroom. Instances of implicit bias on the part of instructors toward some students are discounted out of hand. And for all of the talk of Sequoyah being a safe space for all children, bullying is a common occurrence.
Sequoyah has good bones, but over the years it has become precious and defensive when offered constructive criticism by engaged parents. The result is parents like us considering taking our kid out of the school. We shall see--perhaps there is still room for dialogue and meaningful change at Sequoyah. In the meantime, however, you may wish to consider other private school options--unless you come here knowing full well that you may have to fight the good fight with a school that seems to be losing its way. Good luck.
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.