This is a safe place to share your honest opinions of a school, whether good or bad.
San Domenico Primary / Middle School3
Posted October 16, 2014
- a parent
We have had a good experience here. There are a number of good teachers, as well as a few who need to work on some things. Values matter at San Domenico and that has been nice. In general, we've found the academics to be adequate but not overly challenging. Homework is fairly minimal and the middle school curriculum seems to be well organized. San Domenico is a nice alternative to the local public schools.
San Domenico is an excellent school with caring and highly trained teachers who really love what they do. My daughter, a student in the Lower School, loves going to school every day. I attribute this to not only her great teachers, but also to the nice kids, the engaging curriculum, and all the great "extras." She has music class, art class (every day), Spanish, PE, and a lot of free play, which is very important at this age. My daughter is thriving at San Domenico!
The amount of turnover among the faculty and the administration is really scary. In the past 18 months, virtually every top person at San Domenico has quit or been fired: head, assistant head, development director, admissions directors, all three division heads, all three assistant division heads. Several good teachers have left. The social environment at the school is changing too. Lots of problems with intolerance, bullying, cutting, drugs, poor academic performance, truancy - all things that many families invest in private school to get away from. I know our kids can't live in a bubble, but there has been a real shift in this school in the past two years. I have to think that the leadership changes at the top are part of the reason.
Over the years, we've found that the parents who get the most frustrated with San Domenico are the ones who want their kids on the Branson-Stanford track. If that's where you think your child belongs, then this is probably not the school for you. San Domenico is basically a neighborhood institution run by the women of Sleepy Hollow with the backing of the Dominican sisters. To many parents, it starts to feel very insular the longer you're here. There are some positives as well: kids get more attention than they would at Brookside or White Hill, there are lots of extracurricular programs and the campus is gorgeous. Most important, there are some wonderful families and children at this school. Just don't come to San Domenico expecting a highly rigorous academic program or a global perspective. If you do, you could end up being disappointed.
I have had three children attending primary school here. We chose San Domenico because we believed we and the school could work together to provide our children with a nurturing environment focused as much on social/emotional wellbeing as academics. We also wanted to prevent cliques and bullying from being a part of their lives. I can honestly say that San Domenico teachers and administration has disappointed us in every way possible. They use old-style teaching techniques and their way of dealing with social or emotional conflict for children is to put pressure on children and parents to resolve issues themselves. They make kids feel bad about themselves. I have watched countless boys become stereotyped, stressed-out and pressured to the point of 0 self-esteem. The people who run the school care about 1 thing-- making money, and standing the tallest in the community, even at the cost of values and self-esteem for children. The campus is gorgeous, which makes it that much more ironic (and sad) that what is happening inside is not pretty.
I have two children who attended San Domenico primary and middle school and both were extremely well prepared for a very rigorous high school, especially in math, Spanish, science, research skills, and writing. I also appreciated SD's focus on social/emotional development and on service. My children loved their SD teachers and still go back to visit them!
We've been at this school for over 7 years. If you're looking for strong academic achievement this is probably not the best fit for you. While the curriculum is voluminous and challenging, the actual achievement isn't high. My child has struggled with math. The school's solution is always to seek outside tutoring. Even with tutoring 2x a week for 2 years, I did not see my child's number sense increase. I've had many conversations with other parents having the same experience with this subject. I had her math knowledge assessed over the summer and she achieved 50% knowledge for a grade and half behind her! The math program seems especially rudderless -- they keep trying new approaches hoping to raise achievement, when really I feel they are hiring unaccomplished teachers, who apparently are never held accountable for their students' results. Leadership is also not particular about who they accept with classroom size increasing upwards of 35% year to year. What SD is really good at is providing a positive, nurturing, value-driven, challenging learning environment where children become compassionate, kind, critical thinking, and respectful of themselves and others.
I have been blown away by the program at San Domenico! My daughter is in the primary school and the teachers are really fun, caring, and extremely knowledgable about best practices. Their literacy program is top notch (I have never seen kids spend so much time reading-for pleasure!) and their art program is amazing. In Kindergarten, they do artist studies and learn about the artists and their paintings all while trying out that painting style on their own. Extra-curricular are phenomenal - from music lessons, to tennis, horse back riding, swim team, etc, etc, etc... San Domenico is a beautiful campus, but more importantly, a beautiful community. We are very happy here. I highly recommend it.
San Domenico is an amazing community where all students learn, grow and thrive. The curriculum is differentiated to meet the learning needs and learning style for each individual student. With small class size, San Domenico is able to individualize instruction and provide engaging experiences for all students. The student and community activities are all inclusive and wonderful celebrations that highlight the arts and the emphasis on educating the whole child.