This school has a strong social curriculum in place. However, the teachers and administrator do not demonstrate a true place of fairness, cultural diversity and discriminate against families who are not big donors. The fundraising at this school remains their biggest priority. They continue to work hard to expand. The evidence being their constant desire to buy the properties adjacent to the school. They own apartment buildings and manage them near the school. They have a full time fundraising person who is constantly carousing the campus and seen lunching with parents. There is a full time business manager who is new and quickly developing a poor reputation as "fair". Yet, there is no curriculum director in place or person you can speak to regarding the constant and growing concern of the rather deflated curriculum that is not up to par with LJ Country Day or Parker. This school needs to take the time to develop and re-evaluate its priorities. They are no where near capacity in terms of student body and they ask parents to actively try to persuade their friends to attend open houses and write reviews online. Strange, strange culture. Be careful. It is not what it seems. Positive note - school has a huge budget, they work hard it appears to develop their teachers but with such weak direction and administration, no extra education will help until the deep issues are resolved.
Leaving Gillispie is a hard decision for our family. The reason we have chose to leave Gillispie is the culture of their fundraising practices. We are uncomfortable with the tactics used to collect money over the course of the school year. Example - they have an annual giving fund. I understand many private schools do this same campaign. During this campaign where Gillispie strives to get 100% participation (even from their teachers and support staff) they encourage other Gillispie parents to hound you by email, phone calls and face to face encounters. They are relentless. They claim their tuition is not enough to cover the cost to educate your child. Then I recommend they raise their tuition so that this gorilla marketing style can be put to rest. The issue is the conflict of teaching your social curriculum while pushing a big fundraising agenda. If you are encouraging parents through your school marketing to attend events, get drunk, act belligerent and then loosen their pockets to give more money - this school has mastered this style. This year they added a wine drinking event to their repertoire ON CAMPUS. Another conflict for our family was the lack of presence or oversight on their fairly stagnant curriculum BUT the over abundant presence of their fundraising person. The fundraising person can be seen carousing with moms at lunch, interacting with our children - is she a credentialed teacher? Doubtfully so. My last point is the "Disneyland Factor". Gillispie is a lovely school, full of Art, lots of speakers from the outside and that is all very special. However, to my family, we value hard work, we value resilience, we value not always getting the easy A. Gillispie is Disneyland for kids. Is that real world experience? At the end of the day, I can say, I felt my child was safe at Gillispie, I felt his teachers cared, I felt there were opportunities for learning (not excellent ones) but they did exist. But, these two issues, the strange fundraising and drinking culture combined with the Disneyland Factor has led us back to public school. We might miss the Disneyland factor at times but our child will discover the real world.
My child has been at this school since he was 2 years old, and is now in the upper elementary school. The question of academic rigor is interesting, as I think there will always be families who want more. We have been completely satisfied with what the school has to offer, and can only see the results in what our child has learned in comparison to other schools from his ERB results. He has scored very well, which assures us he is definitely receiving the instruction he needs. We have never had to seek, or wanted to seek any outside help or additional instruction. For us it is about more than just academics, it is the music, PE, art, science, Spanish, and more, and the way the school encourages children to ask questions and become independent thinkers. We love what this school has to offer and can only highly recommend Gillispie.
Our daughter attended Gillispie School and absolutely bloomed academically, emotionally, and socially after being lost in the crowd at two other local elementary schools. She had no trouble gaining admission to The Bishop's School, attended college on an academic scholarship and today has her MBA. She still talks about how Gillispie gave her the confidence to pursue her passions and to love learning.
I have been in the education field for 30 years. I have taught in four states and each grade level from K to 12. I have a Bachelors, Masters and Specialist degree from three different Universities. I also served as Principal and Assistant Principal for 15 years. I now teach at the college level and interact with over twenty schools within the area. I do understand the educational process and the global view by which a strong curriculum may be developed. At the Gillispie School I have observed Administrators, Teachers and Staff interact with the students on the campus. Each student is called by name, each treated with Respect and Dignity, each taken seriously. Parents have a "Voice" and are listened to sincerely by the teachers and administrators. If you are a parent who would like your child to attend an independent school with smaller class sizes, a concentration on safety and a strong academic curriculum, you will be well served to consider this quaint setting. Gillispie School is a fine Independant school which nurtures family interaction. Of course volunteering and/or fundraising are availabe to those who would like to participate. " Kids are Happy at Gillispie"
The Gillispie School is a wonderful place for preschool and elementary school students, and we have found it to be the perfect fit for our family. We love the reggio-inspired curriculum in the early childhood program, and how the transition from this style of learning builds confident, curious, and able students ready to enter the kindergarten-grade 6 program. As current elementary parents, we have been most recently impressed with the integration of Singapore Math into the curriculum, and the school's expansion of the science and sustainability program through their new science building and garden. We have found Gillispie to be as academically rigorous as it is warm and nurturing, and are happy with our choice.
I think I can speak for several parents whose children are about to leave Gillispie this year as 5th and 6th graders. So, many wonderful things about Gillispie. Sweet school with a fantastic art program. The problem is and has been for many years the poor curriculum. It is hard to understand why a school of this prestige struggles to prepare its students for the schools that await them. But, it does struggle. The Gillispie kids as a whole are not prepared and they are not all getting into the secondary schools families desire. Seems like Gillispie cares more about raising money and focusing on their social scene than it does preparing the students for the real world. If I had known what I know now I would not have chosen Gillispie for my child. We are gravely disappointed with the academics. Look around before making this decision. It is a very expensive mistake.
Gillispie is a very warm school with a great community of parents. The school is very well run, organized and efficient. The issue for our family began when we started to consider other schools this year and found our children were behind academically in comparison to the local public and private schools we visited. There are always rumblings of unsatisfied parents with the schools academic vigor but I wasn't sure if it was true or not. I like this school a lot but I am disappointed in this recent development for our family. We have spent a lot of money trusting we were paying for the best. Now I am not so sure.
Although there are many strengths to the school community the academics are largely disappointing. Our daughter attended for two years and learned less than she would have gained in our local public school. During the summer between 1st and 2nd grade I ended up teaching her reading skills that should have been taught the previous year but were largely missed.