I had two children who attended Creative Arts. For one child, this turned out to be the perfect school. For my other, this turned out to be the worst school ... so bad that I had to withdraw this child and transfer to a different middle school.
The good: there are some excellent teachers left here. It is a small school allowing good interaction and fostering community. Great project learning is done here. If your child gets in a good group of friends, these are some great friends who will probably be lifelong friends.
The bad: It is a small school. If your child gets in a bad group of friends, there's nowhere else to go.
The ugly: Unfortunately, the administration is really, really bad. The principal has a horrible rapport with students: they fear him, and not in a good way. He belittles them. He is detached when he should be involved. In times of crisis, he will not be present for your child. His leadership is so poor, that almost any quality teacher has chosen to leave the school (super high turnover rate, check it out).
Our son is too happy. Yes, there is such a thing and it s quite the sight. He is ecstatic about school, and asks me every single morning which art class he will have that day (he hasn t memorized his art schedule yet) and he counts down the days until Monday every Monday his class goes to Golden Gate Park to learn in nature. His exceptional teacher takes the class into nature and teaches things that are difficult to teach within the confines of a classroom and the kids are thriving. She sends us weekly updates with photos and videos of all the fun our kids are having and how much they are learning. Our son can t stop singing songs that he learned from music class, he talks about theater as if he were a professional actor, is excited about homework, and has blossomed as an individual. This school is AMAZING! We love it. If you don t want an exceptionally happy child, don t apply, don't even look at the school. ;)
Our daughter is in first grade after a fantastic kindergarten year. The experience she is having seems unique and exceptional. It's hard to know where to begin in describing why we feel blessed. One obvious thing the project-based arts-rich curriculum -- our daughter gets dance, theater, music, and studio art every week. All of them. Art is woven through the curriculum, and made a way of understanding and engaging the world. CACS practices 'looping' so she has the same teacher and room as last year. So her class hit the ground running! The community is very strong. There is a sense that people are committed to the school -- and watching out for each others' kids. It feels like a co-op. This leads to things like the one unified afterschool program, available to ALL students. That 'watching over' part is important to us. The emotional safety of students is a high and self-evident priority at CACS. That ripples through the way conflicts are addressed at every level. The emotional safety, the sense that CACS grows good humans... and inculcates a love of learning... and a respect for curiosity -- and for one another... those are the things we love!
Remember when you were in middle school and the majority conformed to whoever and whatever was popular? Imagine a school where nonconformity is the norm. That s Creative Arts. Every student works hard on developing who they are and praised for it. I attended the 8th grade graduation in May and all the students were so proud of their individualism. All who attended could clearly see future innovators, nobel laureates, rocket scientists, artists, writers, and goodwill ambassadors. If you have a chance, attend the graduation, it s intimate, fun, emotional, and it s a great window into what the community is like and how your child will develop if they attend CACS. From the first day of Kindergarten until their last day, students are encouraged to think outside the box, create, invent, and problem-solve. They are challenged and enjoy learning. My son will graduate next year and it will be hard to find a high school that will even come close to matching CACS. We feel incredibly lucky to be a part of the CACS community.
Why CACS is such an amazing school: the incredible and loving community, the service learning days where students go out in the community and help others, the camping trips where students and families bond in nature, the dynamic, creative, and hard working teachers, the innovative projects students create every day, the art, dance, music. and theater performances the community work on and display in a variety of ways, the dedicated administration, and the phenomenal art specialists. We love CACS and feel so lucky to be part of this beautiful community.
If you are seeking a small community where it feels and operates more like a family as opposed to a traditional school then this is the school for you! Every child, including my daughter, feel they are being educated by aunts, uncles, mothers, fathers, grandmas and grandpas -- this is because every child/family is an integral part of the community. Creative Arts students are loved, respected, and looked after by every single staff member in the building. This is what I love about CACS and I am very grateful for. My daughter, who in the past, had a very difficult time with transitions and new situations, transitioned into Kindergarten seamlessly because she felt she was with family from the first day of school and felt that her individuality was a beautiful and an important addition to the school. I also admire that the every child at CACS feels freedom on a daily basis -- they are free to be themselves and encouraged to explore and work on their relationships with their peers, their teachers, their family, their neighborhood, and beyond. I can t imagine a better community for a child to grow and learn in.
This is only school I know of in the city that produces students who can think critically and creatively, communicate effectively, collaborate with diverse groups of people, display excellent leadership skills, and compassion to people from all walks of life. This school is nurturing and creating visionaries every day. We feel very lucky to be part of this amazing community and I can't wait to see what our graduates go on to achieve.
As a prospective parent I toured many of the public schools in SF and frankly it was frightening -- all the Kindergarten classes were almost identical, the students were going through the motions like robots, and I witnessed almost zero engagement from the students and teachers. Then I visited CACS where the classrooms were reflections of the teachers -- they were different, fun, lively, completely outside the box, the students were having FUN, were completely ENGAGED, LAUGHING and learning every moment. If that wasn't enough, the music/art program is unbelievably amazing/top notch. I can't say enough about it. If your son or daughter likes music or is musically inclined send them to this school! My son now attends CACS and we could not be happier. The staff is amazing, the community is wonderful and my child LOVES school. I honestly don't think there is a better school than CACS and it's a K-8 which is ideal. Lastly, the middle school program incorporates camping, outward bound and community service as part of their curriculum. Can this school get any better?
This school is the best kept secret in San Francisco. It amazes me that so many people don't even know this school exists. I honestly wonder if this is done purposely. I only heard about this school myself because a friend of mine knew a staff member. In any case, it won't be this way for long. Our children have been attending this school for three years and with sincerity, I say CACS is a phenomenal school. The school is innovative, warm, inspiring, and it feels like a home away from home for the students on all levels. I wish I had gone to this school. I have also found that all the students are very cerebral, the parents are extremely involved, and the staff is caring, understanding, and dedicated. But, most importantly, the students are getting an excellent education. The program is comprehensive, hands-on and the school is creating innovators. Tour this school, apply, and good luck getting in!