Our child is in the Mandarin Immersion program and loves it there. She loves the teachers and has made good friends as well. She has been steadily learning more and more Chinese and it has just about surpassed my own knowledge! There is a very active PTA. The location isn't a draw, but we have never experienced any problems. Child #2 is starting kindergarten next year, so that's the biggest sign of our happiness with Starr King.
We have been a Starr King family for two years. My son is a 1st grader in the MI program. So far, it's been a great experience for our family. He's had great teachers and is really engaged, and our whole family is part of a warm, connected, supportive parent community. I'm also a big fan of principal Wendy Cheong, who joined the school at the same time we did. She is a strong leader who emphasizes teacher training and retention.
We have two daughters enrolled in Starr King and we are pleased with the level of education they are receiving. We also like the community and the new Principal. We are in the Mandarin Immersion program.
Our kindergarten class just listed several more field trips this year--in addition to a great program at Davies Symphony Hall, the classes just went to Chinatown, and will also add Crissy Field, the Academy of Science and Citibank to their trip list in the second half of the school yr. A volunteer task force is putting together a plan to improve classroom technology for the classes... So still a thumbs up for SK If you are debating between Cantonese and Mandarin Immersion, you'll want to know that Mandarin is far more dominant.
Starr King is a great school getting even better, in my view. My daughter is in the 2nd grade there, in the Mandarin program. The school has a principal who is wonderful -- dedicated, very able, and with respect to the Mandarin curriculum in particular is working for continuous improvements. My daughter is entering her third year at the school and so far has had tremendous teachers -- conscientious, thoughtful, really skilled, caring. The parents community is really dedicated too. Some people wish that Mandarin progress would happen more quickly, but to me it's just about perfect. Studies show progress in Mandarin happens more slowly than with other languages, it has been proven in research across cultures. Finally, I've had nothing but good experiences with the school's administrative staff. In the coming year, the facilities' upgrade will be complete. I am entirely happy that I chose Starr King for my daughter. I would do so again.
We never thought that Starr King would be a good choice when we picked school for our little girl. It turned us down at the beginning just because it was next to the biggest low-income housing project in the city. Our daughter was placed in one of the schools in Chinatown. We decided to transfer our kid to Starr King after we heard from a trusted friend whose daughter is going there. After one year, we affirmed that it was the right decision. Best I can say: involved parents, passionate teachers, dedicated principal and nice staff. As my daughter said, even the lunch lady was nicer; the custodian lady was a friendly boss in the cafeteria. I always believed that Chinese classes should only be prepared for kids from Chinese families until I saw all those wonderful non-Chinese Kinders spoke so fluent in the Kindergarten graduation. Good job Kinder teachers!
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.
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.