Week one, I was optimistic. Most of the staff seemed familiar with our child right away. Nice! I was a bit uncomfortable with the school's facilities - no gym, no shaded play areas, no proper theater or music room, and trailers plopped down like an afterthought on the school grounds. Then the weird started. At "Back To School Night" our child's teacher went into some rant about being tired of the gossip and asked that it stop. Gossip? She also said that our class was the worst class she'd ever had. Nice introduction. She seemed like a very troubled woman. She was prickly toward us, and was rough with the kids. My child would come home from school with questions about age inappropriate topics. When we would ask where he heard of such things, the answer was always his teacher. Some tactics and language used in the classroom I would call straight up emotional abuse. In the end, we didn't trust the school with our child and left. It was a very troubling experience. Our child has recovered quite nicely to his old self since leaving (thank goodness!) His parents, however, are are a bit slower to get over it all. Other, less important weird stuff: the fundraising tactics included daily, school wide emails, listing families, by name, that made private donations to the school (including amount donated) and those that hadn't/couldn't donate were not listed. I couldn't believe the school let the PTO get away with such shameful tactics! They'd spend the money on BBQs and iPads for each child. I was annoyed that my child was morphed into an iPad addict by his school. The place is so disorganized. So many different websites and passwords, none of my passwords worked and I was told it was a school wide problem but it was never solved. I received daily emails from the school which were difficult to comprehend. I had to ask around to get basic info that should have been coherently given to parents via email or letter in my child's backpack, and many other parents were equally confused. The kids seemed unengaged. There is a curriculum that the public school was forced to adopt and it's one hot mess. Maybe this school used to be a good one, but with new staff and curriculum over the past couple years, it's not what it used to be. Since we've left, I'm finding that we weren't alone in thinking this place was not a great environment and more people are leaving. Avoid!
Pros: 1. Small class size (16-22 in the lower grades) 2. Well funded compared to other public schools. The school asks for a hefty donation from each family at the beginning of the year, and most families comply. Cons 1. Lack of before/after school care- If you are a dual income family, be prepared to STRESS like no other on what to do with your child while you work, especially after school and during the summer. The only option right now is to be bussed to the community center, which closes at 5 and very few children do it. 2. Lack of differentiation- I agree with previous posts that teachers have low tolerance for children who are "out of the box." Same with bright students- they will likely get bored. 3. Ipads- I wish it would serve a more useful purpose than to "babysit." Parents spent so much money on these, and students are playing games while the teacher focuses on a small group of students. In regards to Stepfordville, to each his own.
Our two children have done very well at this school. Solana Santa Fe is what a school should be: an organization that helps those who earn the right to an excellent education, and does well to remove students and other elements that might distract from the betterment of the whole. Overall, we can't imagine how any other school could do a better job in today's increasingly difficult and more competitive arena. Our children have been encouraged and driven to excell, and that they have. Thank you Solana Santa Fe!
My son has an IEP and the team at SSF has been amazing. Almost every teacher, aide and staff member in the whole school is bright, interested and innovative. He has HFA and a very high IQ so offers odd challenges and they meet them with grace and enthusiasm. Principal Bering is great!
Welcome to Stepfordville. Please enjoy your stay. This school is filled with Real Housewives who come to the drop off and pick up in skimpy tennis wear with designer bags. Their priorities and value systems are success at any cost, and the school caters to this perfectly. There is zero creative or independent thought at this school, it is teach to the test. Kindergarteners learn how to fill in bubbles with their number two pencils within the first few weeks of school. While the school certainly has a great policy against bullying, and I am pleased that the poster's child's bullying problem was addressed, the larger issue remains as to why the child was bullied in the first place. The answer, I believe, is because the school sets a competitive, win/succeed at-any-cost atmosphere and defines very narrowly what it means to be successful. There is not a lot of tolerance for those who are different or who think outside of the box. Moreover, this comes not just from the students, but from the teachers. I personally have observed children in distress emotionally whose needs were ignored by multiple staff members in close proximity. Not a caring environment.
Solana Santa Fe Elementary has an excellent staff and parent involvement. This school's no tolerance on bullying is something my child experienced first hand. Although my child's experience was being bullied in a lighter nature, the teachers and staff addressed it immediately and with appropriate action. If you want your child to succeed in life and do well in their educational career, this is the school for you. This school prepares you for learning, test taking, social skills and having great life skills they will need long term.
If Bentleys, iPads, and good test scores are of the utmost importance to you, then this is the school for you. If, on the other hand, you are looking for a kind and loving environment for your child, think twice before enrolling your child at this school. The school pushes, pushes, and pushes, all in the name of those test scores and an excellent front page write up in the Rancho Santa Fe Review. This push at any cost attitude results in students who learn to take a test, but may be devoid of any critical thought process. It also results in a lot of frustration in the lower grades, when good students become frustrated that they are not perfect, and when those that are developmentally slower (dare I say normal) feel downright dumb. All in the name of the great race to nowhere. One wonders when these kids will burn out, if not in elementary school, surely by the seventh grade. Many of the parents have tutors for their kids, not because a child has any particular deficiency, but simply to keep up. There are certainly some good teachers here, and a lot of parent involvement, but the culture is go, go, go, and please think only in the box.
Exceptional school. My two children have loved their SSF experience and we have been duly impressed and pleased with the Principal, the teachers and staff. It is a very nurturing, positive and intimate environment with high academic standards. The PTO is very generous with it's time and energy and the family community at large is very giving which has helped the school maintain it's extra services like PE, Music, Art and Science to name a few. It has ethnic and socio economic diversity which is refreshing and valuable for the children's experiences and education. There have been some bullying issues but to be fair, no more than other schools as this has become a pervasive and more serious problem in today's world. In response, SSF has thankfully implemented an anti-bullying program that is proving to be effective and helpful for the children in learning how to resolve conflict and take a stand (victim or bystander) against the bully in a safe and productive way. The program also does a lot of proactive modeling of positive behavior and promotes empathy and kindness. It is a very safe and happy place overall and I can't say enough about this school.
I feel so lucky to send my kids to this amazing school! It feels like a private school, the teachers are amazing, I love and respect the principal, it's just an overall excellent school environment and every day I feel thankful this this is where my 3 kids will go from kindergarten through 6th grade.
This school and all of its staff, including the administration, are excellent! The academics are superior at all grade levels. I am thrilled with all that my daughter learned in her kindergarten year last year. My son has also had an amazing experience at the upper grade levels.