North Star is the best school to be in! The teachers are always so supportive and I have learned so much by going to this school. It has so many fun projects and challenges for all grades. As an sixth grader, in my point of view, if you are looking for a school to put your child in, I think this a great school to put your child in. - A happy student
North star is a great school that fulfilled a need for our children. Our first child transferred to North Star in 6th grade after we were completely frustrated with her experience at another RWC elementary school. Year after year she was bored with the classwork and not challenged at all. She never felt that way at North Star. We have always felt lucky RWC had this option. Our second child went all the way from 3rd through 8th grade and was very well prepared for high school. Both have fond memories and many friends from North Star. Not really sure what else a parent could want.
North Star Academy thinks a lot of itself, as the name implies. Students test in, and are well prepared. Test scores are very high and there is time for teaching far beyond the test, this is not due to drilling for tests. Homework is mandatory and has to be scheduled in, but is not overwhelming. School will not skip students or let them work ahead, in general, with some exceptions for Math. This can be a problem for truly exceptional students. Students steal, fairly commonly. Parents are often goal-oriented and somewhat aggressive types, so this is not a warm or cuddly place. Staff and principal turnover has been high, which is damaging. Teachers often are uninterested in interacting with parents and generally over-worked with large classes. Good programs: Spanish, Music, after school homework club, etc. Parent association is has good resources due to strong fund raising, so trips are better than usual. This is like a Varsity sports team, or top band in High School. Top performers, not all completely outstanding, but all paying attention in class, with very few exceptions. Various ways to get in, based on testing. Fairly diverse student body. High demands on parents.
To me, there are two schools at NorthStar - an AWESOME (5*) elementary school with strong dedicated teachers - 3rd grade science is a particular highlight - and a somewhat lackluster middle school (3*) with a number of teachers who are not really reaching the kids and are not doing much more than going through the motions. The recent loss of a standout teacher in 7th and 8th grade science has been a big blow. On the flip side, the student body and parent community are tremendous, and the school's willingness to accelerate high-performing math students (even to the point of taking high school math classes in 8th grade) has been a great recent decision. Because of the quality of the student body and parent engagement your kid can't fail to get a very good public education from here.
NSA is a good school, obviously very focused on academics since kids have to be tested in. From what I understand they have a strong focus on socialization as well, but I have not seen it firsthand. I find a lot of the children lacking in social consideration, even more so than the other schools that I am involved with. Some of the teachers do leave a little to be desired, though, and others go above and beyond.
NSA is a better choice than almost any other school in the RCSD because it goes to 8th grade, it has a mostly wealthy and involved parent community, and because the kids have to test in, which weeds out low performers. That being said, there are some teachers here who are in dire need of review, because they don't seem to be interested in teaching at all. The prevailing attitude of teachers seems to be "if the kids don't get a concept the first time it's mentioned, it's up to parents to hire a tutor." There is very little academic support from teachers, huge emphasis on tests, and way too much homework. For every 1 kid who reacts well to this model, there are 20 who do not. Lunch is at 11:15 in the morning, which means that kids go from 12-3 (the majority of their day) with no break for nutrition or physical activity, which seems unhealthy at best. Yes, they graduate beyond prepared for high school. But they are also stressed out, and pressed for any kind of free time every single day.
1st year at school and so far we've been completely impressed by the quality of the teachers and their approach to getting the kids to take on responsibility and enjoy the process of learning. Our son comes home happy and excited to learn more than what was presented in the classroom. NSA does ask a little more from the kids, in term of homework and studying, but it hasn't been unreasonable. It's hard to ask for more than that.
North Star has some great teachers and some ok teachers. Students are generally good and well behaved. Not every student is good at every subject. Some need extra help in math, writing or other areas of learning. A few math teachers are very weak in my opinion. Stundents could have done much better if they had better math teachers. The 3rd grade teachers are pretty solid. Students coming to 3rd grade may feel a bit overwhelmed at first because things are not as easy as they experienced before. Not a perfect place, but better than some of the schools in Redwood City.
Every child is different, and children gifted in academic learning need a place for them to keep things going. It is great that RWC school district provides a school like North Star for students who are motivated and able to learn fast. It's inspiring to be in a classroom where everyone is working hard and trying to do a good job. It's important that we keep a learning environment like this as an option for our children, especially while GATE program is not provided in our neighborhood school.
This school is an oasis for panicky parents. It is a private school in the public school system. Families who attend do so hoping to escape some of the possibly negative effects of low-performing students in schools that accommodate a diverse student population. It is one of the worst things that has ever happened to the RCSD. Hope to see it disappear or be drastically modified soon. Not happy my taxes are paying for NSA.
north star academy is an amazing school with kind and cuddly teachers who help you learn more than enough to survive
LOVE the school, the teachers and the Principal. Not sure what the other post meant. The Principal is so on top of things and a great communicator. The kids love her and the teachers love her. She started many new enrichment things for the kids since she has been here. My 6th grader has thrived at this school. It is perfect for high kids. I am so thankful we have it in RWC!
Naturally this is the best public elementary/middle school in Redwood City -- the students are tested before admission, so only the most capable attend. The students, not the teachers or the administration, drive North Star's exceptional reputation. The current principal is woefully below par, as are about 40% of the teachers, which is completely in line with what one might expect from other schools in the district that perform poorly. But when you begin with a more capable student body, you cannot help but achieve better results. Would I choose another public school in Redwood City for my child? -- No, of course not. This is clearly the best option available. But I certainly won't pretend North Star is doing a better teaching job. That's simply not accurate.
It is a top school in the state, for our gifted and talented children. What a treasure for our community! This school was a "godsend" for my son. Previously he was an average student at a local parochial school, not particularly motivated, contrary to his high standardized test scores. At Northstar, he was properly challenged in a creative environment, to spark his potential. The teachers are specially trained to teach GATE curriculum, and more importantly, to teach exceedingly bright children who need less time to learn new subjects, and more time to deepen understanding through interactive group projects. My son thrived at this school which provided him the structure, skills in time management, and the CHALLLENGE to acheive academic success. While my son is especially gifted in the areas of math and science, the entire school community celebrated and developed a strong appreciation of the varied gifts of all the students, in all disciplines- such as art, drama, athletics, music, and community service. He went on to the high school of his choice where he graduated with multiple honors and awards; he continues to thrive as a top engineering student at UCBerkeley.
My child is entering 5th grade at North Star. Thus far, his teachers have been very astute in identifying his strengths and weaknesses and encouraging him to take personal responsibility for learning and submitting work on time. Independent thinking and creativity are nurtured. The field trips and parent involvement are amazing. The families that we have met have the same values that we do, and I am pleased with the friends my son has made.
I would think twice about sending your child here, especially if life lessons matter. There are a lot of burned out teachers that achieve test scores at a cost to your child's self esteme. The "conversation" between staff and parents is one way. The former principal was great. The current principal, Wendy Kelly, at every occasion puts the staff, her relationship with them before the needs of the child. There are a few good teachers her who are truely great, but the mean ones are very cruel. Most of the teachers have huge egos and think they make no mistakes, do not take suggestions, feel above the need to evolve and change. No geometry, it was eliminated and math lovers suffer here.
North Star focuses on the creativity part of the brain and not just academics with the kids. They are ecouraged daily to go above and beyond and to reach the for the stars. Despite budget cuts, they still continue to have performing arts, music, outdoor field trips, enrichment programs. It's just a great school. When these kids are finished with 8th grade, they are college ready.
I've been going to this school for four years now, and if you are looking for advanced but fun classes then this is the school for you!!!
Our son has attended North Star for 2 years now and is pretty happy there. There are a lot of interesting and smart kids and that is the main benefit of the school. The quality of the teachers is uneven, as at any school. Great field trips and projects. Not enough differentiated instruction - smart kids are all bored in math in particular.
I have amazing friends and the teachers really know what they're talking about
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