Sr. Kathryn Camacho, October 28, 2013
I am extremely proud to be a part of the St. Paul's School Community! For 98 years we have been providing quality Catholic education in the Noe Valley neighborhood of San Francisco. Our dedicated teachers go the extra mile for all of our students to ensure their success academically and socially. Our enthusiastic parent community continually strives to create a collaborative and supportive community environment for all. We are more than a school, we are a community with lots of heart!!
A large number of families left after this past academic year. The school has gone through three principal changes in the past four years and another one is planned for next year, the faculty is not open to parent involvement in the classroom and school, the pastor does not prioritize the school and is not engaged with the children and their parents, and the parents, faculty and parish do not operate like a true community. There are a handful of parents trying to turn this school around but they have an uphill climb. Read the reviews going back years and you will see the same concerns keep coming up over and over again. The outcome is that good families leave and mediocre school leadership stays.
We love St. Paul's School! We enrolled our son last year who is now in 1st Grade. He absolutely enjoys going to school. As parents we find that not only do the teachers, co-principals (Which by the way, is a great advantage because the principals are actually teachers themselves!!! They are very in tune with the students on a first-hand basis!) and faculty exceed our expectations, but the St. Paul's community as a whole does as well. NO OTHER school of this ilk can provide such a warm community feeling. Another reason we chose this fine institution was because of the fine education that it provides. Graduating students are accepted into some of the BEST high schools in the Bay Area and some of the FINEST colleges in the country! It doesn't get much better than that. As an educational stronghold in our community for nearly 100 years, St. Paul's continues to stand tall! By the way, did you know that the hit movie Sister Act was filmed there?
Weekend discovered St. Paul's School just this weekend at a school fair. My husband and I were torn between a few schools in the vicinity but now we have made our decision. We, will be transferring our oldest child who is in 4th grade from a nearby competing school and we will enroll our youngest into kindergarten next year. At the fair we had the opportunity to meet a few of the parents, the co-principals (what a neat concept), and even some of the students. The warmth and sincerity we received blew the doors off of the other schools that were there. Referrals are in order for sure. Thank you for such a warm welcome. We look forward to joining the St. Paul's family.
As an alum of St. Paul's, all I can do is sing its praises. This school made me the person I am today. Thanks to the teachers and community there, I have become a well-rounded person with an intense love of learning. I can truly say that St. Paul's prepared me for high school and beyond. The teachers were (are!) fantastic. Perhaps the issues some other reviewers are reporting stem from a lack of respectful parent-teacher collaboration? In my day, the parents and the teachers worked together to create a truly vibrant learning community. There was great support on each side. The teachers at St. Paul's always appreciate a respectful dialogue. The teachers here really do know how to reach students. Each year, I was inspired by new lessons, and I dared to achieve more. Whenever people ask me about great schools in San Francisco, I point them to St. Paul's. Frankly, I cannot say enough good things about St. Paul's. This school is fantastic.
Sadly to say, St. Pauls school is not the same school that I went to. There is no strong leadership, having 2 co-principals who are also teachers, has really made things worse. There is no neutral party between the parents and the teachers, and no advocate for the children. After 7 kids left my childs class, we only have 12 students left. Our teacher is very nice, but lacks experience and skills. My child had harder work last year. I will not be enrolling my child next year and regret not leaving last June with her classmates.
I have a great love for St. Paul's but over the last 5-8 years this school has lacked serious leadership. On the heels of a 1 term principle who left, the school is now being run by 2 middle school teachers who are doing double duty. Turnover from the PTA reflects the frustration of parents who see the staff as unwilling to work making any changes. The pastor was granted a permanent position at the school & is so far removed he makes no difference in the day to day activities. Most of the staff have been there for 10+ yrs & have been "grandfathered" into their routines & ways. The school truly is ruled from a bottoms up prospective & from what I see doesn't plan on changing. These issues which are widely known and have had a financial impact on the school. There was a large exodus of families LY & the school is having enrollment/financial concerns. On a positive note, the parents are great, the community is diverse & the academics are great. However if you are looking to find a place where the staff realizes that they are the stewards of your financial & physical investment, respects and is willing to consider your input, look elsewhere.
My child attended this school but we left disappointed over a number of issues. If you are considering this school ask a lot of questions about school leadership, declining enrollment, and vision for the future. If you are looking for a dynamic school, open to parent involvement in the classroom, and incorporation of child enrichment activities beyond academics, this may not be a good fit for you.
My daughter just started Kindergarten this year. She came from the attached preschool. She loves it. No complaints from me. I like how the school is small with one class per grade. I agree, everyone I've encountered has been very welcoming. The parents I've met attended this school also. I like that.
I have a kindergartener at St Paul s and my child loves to go to school everyday. The kindergarten teacher is wonderful. She is engaged with the kids and teaches them values and social skills, not just academics. Kids get 45 minutes of play time built into their day, and there is a good balance of work and play at school. Science is top notch, hands on, and begins at kindergarten. PE 2x week, Spanish 2x week, Music 1x, Science 1x. After school chorus, sports and drama. The new principal is a breath of fresh air and has made many significant changes to improve the school so far. Parent community is growing and invested. Yes, there is some rigidity in the school culture; yes, some teachers can be downright cranky, but overall, the kids are happy, safe and learning. I ve learned that there is no perfect school, only a good fit for your child and family.
My daughter just started Kindergarten at St. Paul's and we love the school. The kindergarten teacher and her assistant are passionate about what they do, which has made for a very easy transition. The academics are exceptional and the facilities are top notch. My daughter is excited to go to school each day and especially enjoys science class. There is a real sense of community among the parents and everyone I have encountered is very welcoming. I am so grateful to have found this school.
With back to school rapidly approaching we need to make a decision for the coming semester. We have just been at this school a short while and feel ambivalent. While it is nice to have the religious education, we feel that there is an underlying mediocrity which has not been addressed though many speak of it. We did not research carefully enough before placing our child here, just assuming it would live up to its reputation of years ago. We will research our next move carefully and advise others to really talk to a lot of people before trusting that this is the right placement for your child. Though academics meet state standards, the curriculum is a bit dusty and there is not much energy put in to modernizing.
Visiting schools and figuring out which school is the right fit for ones child yet meets the parent's requirements is a daunting task but absolutely necessary. After visiting so many schools both public and private this school was my first choice for many reasons but I only have room to list a few. The science class is hands and not only out of a text book or web site. The Spanish classes are part of the regular school curriculum. The kindergarten teacher guides parents on how to support your child's education at home. The building and school grounds are maintained well and located within a family friendly community. Parent, teacher, and staff involvement is key to the success of so many extracurricular activities and events. This school is a gem and it is because all the people who make up its community care and have made strides towards accomplishing goals that benefit our children and I look forward to the years ahead because it will only get better!
Warm community, great education. I now have my third child enrolled at St. Pauls' School. My eldest long ago graduated and is now at college in a nursing program. My younger children are both blooming, learning and enjoy the varied programs. The science program is outstanding and starts with Kindergarteners. The teachers and staff give so much of themselves, it is a pleasure to be on the school grounds. The community is working with the parish to improve the play area for the children, which is much needed. Thank you, St. Paul's.
This school is a gem that is now being rediscovered. The teachers care greatly about the kids and school, the parents are very committed and active and the principal is very effective. This school is a big value for the money you pay. Most importantly - the kids are learning, engaged and nice - no public school fights, bullies or behavioral issues. We are very very happy with St. Paul's in Noe Valley.
The principal and pastor are extremely proactive and responsive. Niether sugar- coat responses and are responsible,yet personal when it comes to the well being of your child. As has been indicated in previous reviews, you get as much as you put in. As for clicks, I havent witnessed any out of the ordinary. I would encourage more services for various special needs. However, our experiences with our child's teachers has been very good and we feel we are getting the most out of our experience at St. Paul.
This is our second year at St. Paul's, and we have been very pleased with all aspects of our daughter's education. The warmth and diversity are what attrated us, and the quality of the academics and the quality of the teachers are what make us stay.
I have 3 kids at St. Paul's and it is a great school - I highly recommend this school. As with anything (school, job, life), the return you receive and your satisfaction depends on your effort and participation in the endeavor. My kids are doing great academically and socially, of course we take the time in the evenings to work with them and are involved as coaches and all in the school sports and activities. It is a great community, the parents who are involved are smart, warm and committed to the success of the school. Academically, the kids grades 5-8 recently tested 1 to 2 grades ABOVE the average for their grade, with graduates going to Lowell, SI, Lick-M and other good schools. Finally, the return on value is great - if anything it is under-priced. It is nice school, with good kids and a great community.
We will agree with a lot that is said positive. And we will state that it is not enough because we are paying. Though the school gives academics that compare to others in the neighborhood, my friends tell me the public schools are also as good or a little better and no tuition. It is half year now and we will have decisions to make. If you are considering this school, take a good look at the competitions first. Those in charge here at St. Paul seem tired. (Principal and pastor too) My kids deserve so much more. I wish only the best.
My child has been at this school for 5 years now, what first attracted me to the school was the warmth and friendliness that came from the parents. That has pretty much worn off as it is quite apparent to me as well as others that there are cliques within the school. They are not friendly nor are they interested in including other's in their groups. Hello, if you leave people out they will not want to volunteer for functions that the school has. The PTG meetings have turned into recrutments for volunteering and not actually listening to parents concerns and issues that the (the PTG) as intermediaries between parents & school staff are suppose to do. Another issue the lack of use of the 'school gym'. All the excuses that are given as to why there are not more than 1 home games per grade and they are unaceptable.
We are all entitled to our own experience. Us? We've just gotta' go, though it hasn't all been bad. Nothing ever is. Sports, lunch, safety are good as others point to. We can ask a lot more though. Why are the teachers dis-spirited and a few just unpleasant? We can't in conscience stay to find out. There is too much inconsistency in academics. the principal is uninterested. So, if you are thinking of coming here...research well. Others have a good opinion and experience. some do not! Be sure you talk to a lt of people. Then decide and all the best to you.
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