What our family loves the MOST about KMS is that its 100% a child focused school. I love that even though our boys are city kids they are having rich childhood experiences we can't give them on our block, from playing outside most of the day and picking them up completely dirty, to eating lunch outside in the beautiful Mission weather, to gardening and creating with their hands to even experiencing moments of independence and risk (safe risks of course). These things are important pieces to a rich and memorable childhood. Yes the school may not be filled with the latest technology or shiny lockers and squeaky gym floors but kids don't care about the latest trends in educational design or tracking their progress on an iPad - they care that their ideas are heard, recognized and elaborated upon. They care about being part of a deeply connected community that is filled with friends and teachers who "get them". I know that they need these tools and skills to grow up to be the socially responsible, caring adults they need to be.
My son graduated from KMS' elementary program and just entered a great middle school in San Francisco, where his performance and capacity of adjustment show he got a great foundation for his academic and personal future. Felipe started at KMS when he still used diapers and grew to become a creative, happy, respectful, and confident middle schooler thanks to the child-centered approach of this school and to its great teachers. KMS follows the pedagogy of Reggio Emilia, an innovative take on education that teaches responsibility and community through exploration, discovery, and play. One of my favorite memories of this project-based school (and I have many) was a couple of years ago, when the elementary program produced a delicious evening called KMS Cafe. The project included visiting a farm to learn about food production, planning the event's budget, creating artistic invitations and menus, shopping for items in Spanish in the Latin stores of the Mission, good cooking, and poetry reading, with the kids sharing their verses to entertain the proud guests. Ah, the kids decided to donate all profits to a philanthropic organization that supports a cause of their choice.
We have 2 children at KMS; both have attended since kindergarten and our oldest will "graduate" next May. Absolutely wonderful experience and I cannot recommend the school highly enough! In particular, project-based (cross-discipline) learning has really resonated with our children and greatly benefited their conceptual thinking , self-confidence, and individual discipline skills. From a social aspect KMS is like no other school I know of in SF. The mantra "we're all friends" sets a really positive tone of respect and acceptance in addition to guiding self-directed arbitration and conflict skills amongst the students. I truly wish the KMS experience was available through middle school and beyond. I view it as some of the best practice for "real life" that you could offer your children.
My daughter just completed her first year at KMS. Second grade. We were previously in a lovely, fancy private school for JK, then in a Spanish Immersion, public school for K and 1st. We have tried the spectrum. KMS has been extraordinary for us. I personally love the passion for science AND art, writing, performing arts. At last, I see true project-based learning; I see a school seriously and successfully help children grow in their social interactions, personal responsibility and genuine respect and kindness for others. The proof in the pudding isn't just current parents like me who are impressed today; the true proof is the graduates (I know half a dozen) who share a hard-to-define feeling that they are centered, comfortable in their skin, look you in the eye confidently and thoughtfully - hard to describe. It's what we all want to see in our children. Emilio Reggio based. Brilliant, giving, caring teachers and admins. Gorgeous space, science room, full commercial kitchen (yes for children's use), garden, dance studio, playground, and dirt mountain. This is NOT for social climbers; definitely don't come here to train your child to take tests. Come here to see them bloom.
We are now 5 years at Katherine Michiels School. I have two sons there and we started in Kindergarten with my oldest son. They negatives of the school, when we started were communication issues with administration and a constant turnover of directors. Which resulted in inconsistencies and mismanagement. They have steadily been working on these issues and feel that it has vastly improved. They positives of the school, small project based school with great success in social education. They have personally supported my family when my youngest son was diagnosed with Type 1 diabetes. They stepped up to the plate to support him and manage his diabetes while he is at school. They had never had a case of Type 1 and I personally trained personnel, teachers and a director to understand and manage the diabetes. I am a registered nurse and utilized a diabetes educator for training. So if you are looking for this kind of support KMS is the place.
We've been at KMS for over four years and our kids love the school. Our son went through the preschool and pre-K programs and is now at public kindergarten. He's doing great and the natural curiosity for learning he developed at KMS seems to have prepared him well for his kindergarten experience. Our daughter is in the preschool program and will be starting pre-K later this year. She's happy, inquisitive, playful and seems to have an all-around great time at school. She's also learning. She's started writing the letters of the alphabet, is doing basic math and brings home armloads of art projects every week. We think our kids have thrived in the self-directed learning environment the school works hard to create. If what you're looking for structure and rigor this probably isn't the place for you (it's a safe bet they'll come home covered in paint or dirt at least a couple times a week). If instead you're looking a place where your kid can be a kid and learn to learn in their own way then you'll probably be happy at KMS.
We have two children here, one in Kindergarten and one in preschool. We are very happy with KMS. The children want to go everyday, and my wife and I love the community . I am particularly happy with the science class that is conducted in the after care program. My son actually asked to do science, and having seen one of the classes I know it is because they make science (and learning) fun.
Our daughter went to KMS kindergarten last year. The bottom line of our experience at KMS was that it is good for some people, but definitely not for everyone. The building is beautiful, the place is very well organized and the kids are overall very nice. However, there are a number of issues people should be aware of. Administration at KMS, and especially everything that involves payments, is extremely unpleasant. Strict rules and fines give a very bad feeling, while there is in addition strong pressure to give more. It is also extremely difficult to interact with the teachers, both because they are always too busy, and because they seem not to think it is a part of their job to interact with parents. Parent meetings are not personal but are rather social events. Lastly, out daughter learnt very little at KMS. The kids mostly play freely with no guidance, and also experience with gardening and artwork, but are taught extremely little. Since our daughter is smart and likes to learn (basic reading, writing, numbers, history, etc.), we feel it was a bit of a waste of time for her.
.The teachers are great and the only reason to go. The school administration's communication will drive you nuts. No PTA/PTO and the school discourages parents organizing by not supporting them in any way. The guy that runs the place is very brusque to the point of rudeness. My main concern has been safety since the facility is older and it seems like maintenance has been defrayed. For a smaller child this seems potentially dangerous.