I could not be happier that my child was able to gain admission to Starr King's mandarin program. I had applied to private mandarin school programs, which I could simply not afford, and when I compare what friends who have their kids in those programs versus Starr King, I am entirely pleased that my child is at Starr King. Great principal who is quite committed and who went to Starr King herself. Great teachers so far (we're a couple of years into it and have heard great things about future years' teachers), great curriculum which continues to be improved, and an urban setting and diverse student body that gives my child a broader view of the world than she might otherwise have. I can't praise this school enough -- even while recognizing that it is not perfect. The PTA is engaged and parents give of their time, resources. And so on.
Starr King has a wonderful principal and a very supportive staff. The school has many opportunities for parents to get involved, and a very diverse student population.
Our child is completing 1st grade at Starr King in the Mandarin strand and is thriving and succeeding in both English and Mandarin. The teachers are energetic, organized, dedicated and the support staff at the school are as well. The warm, open parent community in the PTA has made us feel really welcome as a family. The changes coming in the next year with additional on-site Mandarin support, extra English support and expanded onsite Mandarin after-school options are all things we look forward to. The off-site after school at Fei Tien has been a great option to provide additional Mandarin language and Chinese arts exposure for our child. Although I agree with previous posts that the school reflects the diversity of San Francisco the one change I would love to see is more integration of the Mandarin, English-only and Autism strands during class-time as recess & lunch don't provide enough time for all of the students to truly know each other. We've looked private schools and you would pay at least $25,000/year more with tuition and expected fundraising for similar results so we're very glad we're at Starr King!
Update: This school has decided to finally use the zhongwen textbook - Finally! Surprise: The current principal has decided to give way to a new principal in the coming grade in 2013/14, to one who is bilingual in both english and mandarin. SKMI and JOSE is on course for a major readjustment in terms of curriculum, but I won't rate this school higher until all the necessary changes are made. I want to transfer from MI to GE because our kids are way ahead in mandarin by privately using Zhongwen and leveled readers at home while school offers insufficient ENGLISH. We made it to CIS in the 2013 transfer round, but since immersion schools have the same time slices for the respective languages, we will stay until we get into GE. I suggest that immersion schools teach science and math in ENGLISH instead of Chinese, and make sure CLA time is properly accounted for. If you're an incoming parent, be sure to ask what subjects are taught in english vs. chinese throughout grade levels. Issues are no fault of the principal as the architectural issues existed 6+ years ago. If done correctly, SKMI can easily best CIS/AFY, but my kids are growing fast and they need more english. I will update.
One of the biggest problems at this school with respect to the Mandarin Immersion program is that the majority of families enrolled in the program are not from Mandarin-speaking backgrounds. The parents who are happy with this school are likely to be the ones who do not know the language. They can't tell that their kids are not learning the language very well at all, not for the investment of full-time study over the 6 years of K-5th grades. If Chinese families want their kids to learn the language without sacrificing the English and other academic subjects, then doing Chinese school or after school is a better investment of time.
After joining the school with great excitement, I have been tremendously disappointed. Despite having dedicated teachers in the Mandarin Immersion program, there is a profound lack of leadership to provide them with the necessary supports to accomplish their goals. The problems are multifaceted. The classes do not have the appropriate mix of students (native:non-native speaker ratios) to make an immersion program feasible. Furthermore, there has been tremendous parent opposition to providing the teachers with the necessary in class resources to overcome this handicap. The school has lacked basic educational materials - i.e. books, an integrated curriculum, or assessments. There is no significant Mandarin afterschool program. Additionally, the behavioral problems in the classroom, particularly within the MI strand, are a monumental drain on the teachers, and are simply not dealt with by the school leadership. Because the kids are not learning Chinese well, they are not learning anything that is taught in Mandarin well. Additionally, a great deal of English education is sacrificed, which is expected, but for which there is no return on investment. Truly a disappointing experience.
I have three children enrolled in the Mandarin Immersion Program. When my first entered a few years ago, my wife and I were hoping for a quality educational experience, and we weren't disappointed. The principal, teachers, and staff provide the atmosphere necessary for the children to flourish. With the choices of private and public elementary schools in San Francisco, I would consider Starr King the best.
I have been affiliated with SK, since 1990, initially as a volunteer. I then joined the staff as the librarian, until my retirement 6 yrs ago. I have continued to volunteer in the SK office, and be the SK arts coordinator. My position has given me the opportunity to become personally acquainted with a majority of our families and know the children by name. I contend the parent who wrote the one star review is misinformed. We have a diverse enrollment which is supported by a dedicated staff; including an Integrated Reform Facilitator(assists teachers with curriculum and strategies to address academic needs of underachieving students), SFUSD LSP(with a MMFC), intern(acquiring hrs for her MMFC), nurse , student advisor, anger management program through PH Neighborhood House and UCSF. A team meets twice monthly to try/solve referred students' needs. Our parents are outstanding; raising enough funds for an extra teacher, tutors and enrichment programs, which SK would not otherwise have. Everyday I witness high expectations of students; in academics and behavior. We conduct SK tours on Tuesdays for parents/guardians to learn for themselves.(Please call ahead 415-695-5797)
I find it telling that the parent who posted the one-star review on 10/17/12 starts by identifying the children's problems, which suggests s/he has an issue with the student population. I send my child to this school BECAUSE of the population, because, as a well-educated, middle class parent, I do not want my child to grow up in a fishbowl thinking that the world is one way when it certainly is not. The children at this school are diverse and lovely and human. In other words, they are our school family like family you can't pick who those members are. So it goes in SF PUBLIC schools. My family loves the teachers, the community (warts and all!), the support staff, the program we love it all. Are there struggles? Of course. Are expectations of students low? Lord, no. Kids are all over the map in abilities some kindergartners read at a 4th grade level. Others haven't had the opportunity to read much at all. The teachers have a wide range with which to work. So it goes in public school. If you don't like it, pay the $22K for private where the population is selected and privileged, and kids with learning differences can be out on their rears if they bring the good scores down.
I have placed both my kids here after having a teacher/Aid tell me my 5 yr old might be ADHD, and after having an Aid assault my then 8 yr old. Both boys are thriving here. I love Starr King, The principal is hands down very involved and caring, all the teacher take their time to get to know the kids, parents are very involved... teacher & parent communication is excellent... dont let the neighborhood fool or scare you...this is a great and safe school
SK is a great school. My child is finishing up kindergarten and has had an amazing year in the Mandarin Immersion program. The K teachers are unbelievable-- the Mandarin proficiency the kids have achieved is remarkable, and it hasn't come at the expense of reading and writing in English. The fact that these teachers have done what they've done in one year gives us hope for the future of public education. The community is an eclectic group with a wide diversity of opinions and perspectives, but is cohesive when it comes to wanting the best for the kids. As the Mandarin program continues to expand, especially in the upper grades (the program started small), it will be interesting to see what happens to test scores. All in all, we're very happy here.
This is an amazing school. My oldest of two daughters is in the Mandarin Immersion program with my second entering next year. She is thriving. The test scores may be a little low bacause of the fact that the children are learning Chinese as well as English. However, don't let that keep you from a great school. I was concerned about SF schools and seriously considered going private. My wife, thankfully, dug deeper and found that Starr King program is as good if not better than competing private schools. I believe the difference is the parent involvement. The PTA is very organized and very motivated.
My daughter is a Kindergartener in the Mandarin Immersion program. She loves going to school, loves her teacher and loves her friends. She is thriving here; what more can we ask for? Other things we love about Starr King Elementary: the staff is knowledgable and caring, the parents are involved whether it be coordinating or coaching after-school soccer teams, volunteering in the classroom, fundraising, or cleaning the school, the student population is extremely diverse, the curriculum includes music, art, obviously foreign language development if you choose the Mandarin Immersion program. Our family loves Starr King Elementary!
don't let the low test scores and neighborhood scare you. it's a great school. my daughter goes to K there, and I can see her improvements in mandarin every week. you won't believe how much mandarin she picked up in 6 months. image how much she will know after 6yrs.
We are so happy to be a part of Starr King. We love this school, the hardworking teachers, and all the support staff. Recently the school nurse and the principal won awards for their work here.
Starr King is a great school! Very diverse, involved parents, super principal, excellent teachers. I am very happy here. It is what makes living in San Francisco worth the struggle and sacrifice. We are proud to be part of Starr King
We love this school. Our daughter is a first-grader in the Mandarin immersion program. By the end of kindergarten, she was conversant in Mandarin--flooring our Mandarin speaking friends. This is a warm community with involved parents and faculty. The principal and teachers are wonderful and demonstrate their commitment to the children every day. I know potential parents will look at the test scores and disregard this gem. Please don't. This is a extremely diverse school, where not every child has has the same advantages. But that is the beauty of Starr-King: it tries to help all children. Many parents are doctors, lawyers and other professionals, graduating from top schools. If you want your child in a warm, loving school, to speak Mandarin fluently, have friends from diverse backgrounds, then come visit us.
The school has been transitioning for the last few years and the prinicpal is doing a great job of balancing all the different groups. We have general education as well as Mandarin Immersion. The children and families are all from diverse backgrounds and incomes but they all work well together for the benefit of the children.
Starr King is a unique in that it has four distinct programs (Gen. Ed., Special Ed., Spanish Bilingual, and Mandarin Immersion) and highly diverse student/family population in every sense (language, ethnicity, economic, leaning ability and family structure) - it is truly representative of San Francisco. Despite this, we operate as one school community, serving all of our students and families. We find unique ways to mix students together, such as 'unified teaching blocks' where students from the various strands are grouped together for English language arts. And for families, we have many all-school events such as our 'International Potluck Dinner' where families from all backgrounds get to develop relationships with one another. Starr King also boasts the smallest average class size (16) in the district. This is intentional. We believe that skilled teachers and low class sized make the difference. Our largest class is 5th grade, with only 21 students. Another unique feature of Starr King is our comprehensive wellness program, which focuses not only on students, but on families as well. We believe when students and their families are healthy and stable, it frees children up to focus on learning. Starr King is not just a school, it an integral part of the surrounding community. Some parents are even alumni of Starr King, and now send their own children to the same school. Many volunteers come from the community, some of whom have been volunteering for more than 10 years! For all these reasons and more, Starr King is a special place of learning, and it shows in the dedication of the principal, staff, volunteers and parents who are making Starr King shine in so many ways.
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