Kids at Brandeis are encouraged to take academic and social risks and are rewarded for effort and for learning from mistakes, not just for getting things right. More and more, design thinking is being brought into the classroom at all grade levels, and kids are learning that it's okay and even expected for your first attempt at solving a complex problem to fail and are then encouraged to gather more information and learn from failure to help them arrive at the best end product. The school also embraces Dweck's Growth Mindset, which emphasizes hard work and perseverance over perceived ability and looks at all kids as capable.
Brandeis SF focusses on integrity, one of the school's core values, starting in K and continuing through middle school. Also, the new head of school leads with integrity, honesty, and as much transparency as possible. In Jewish Studies, especially in the older grades, kids are asked to think about and grapple with various questions regarding values and ethics. Outside of the classroom, I have also seen kids/teachers/coaches displaying these values. For example, on sports teams and in band, all kids are given equal opportunity to participate whatever their ability level (and we have still won several sports championships over the last few years even though not all of our opponents take the same approach). Something that has really impresses me on the middle school sports teams (my child didn't play on any school teams until 6th grade) is the way the kids support each other. Even when a kid messes up, the other kids are ready with an "It's okay; don't worry about it," and a high five or pat on the back.
Integrity and kindness are part of the core of the mission of the school. The children are amazing. They are kind and caring and inclusive in and out of the classroom and uniquely aware of the larger needs of the world around them.
My kids are happy every day at school. They jump out of the car in the morning and can't wait to start the day. They are receiving an excellent academic education with an emphasis on critical thinking and public speaking. The elementary is nurturing and progressive and the middle school is challenging. Equally important, they come home telling stories about values that they are discussing in school and are excited and motivated to give back to our community and the world. Brandeis also has an incredibly supportive and inclusive community that makes it one of a kind. I love dropping my kids off in the morning and spending an extra thirty minutes to an hour catching up with friends, joining the kids in an assembly or participating in an activity for parents (such as Wednesday meditation or Jewish learning groups).
There is a growing emphasis on developing a "growth mindset" at Brandeis. This is based on the research of Carol Dweck at Stanford and is all about developing resilience and persistence in the face of challenge.
I agree with the review prior to this. There is absolutely no consistency within or between the grades for academics and little differentiation. Overall it's academically very weak. There is a lot of attrition in the lower grades with people leaving left and right. The Jewish studies are strong, but otherwise it's not worth the money, not even close. We are out of here!
I am surprised that no one has stepped up yet to write about what is really going on at this school. While there are some positives -the great sense of community and a handful of really excellent teachers, the school is nothing short of a disaster. We are among several families who have or will be moving on to other schools. The most serious issue in my opinion is the weak academics -this is something acknowledged by almost every parent in the school yet nothing seems to be done about it. Humanities and Judaic studies are OK (though there is room for improvement there too). Math and science are extremely weak. My niece and nephew are at a public school and have a far greater understanding of these subjects than my kids do. They spend quite a lot of time "learning" Hebrew yet they don't seem to actually learn more than I remember learning in weekly Hebrew school as a kid (which is not much). There isn't much of a set curriculum for most subjects -teachers seem to do as they please with little consistency from grade to grade or even month to month. I hope that the new leadership can turn things around but I'm just not willing to take that risk with my children's education.