This is a safe place to share your honest opinions of a school, whether good or bad.
Merritt Trace Elementary School3
Posted August 18, 2014
- a parent
Have been fairly happy with the school. Class sizes are ridiculous. 30 of any grade per teacher is a recipe for failure. I have no idea why the ratio on this site is listed at 18 per teacher. Spelling and grammar mistakes are common and seem to be completely overlooked by staff. Definitely have to figure out what teachers are good. Principal is not well received by parents and her staff which has resulted in favorite teachers ditching Trace for other schools.
The year is 2014. The school is great if you are a Spanish speaker. This is not really a Rose Garden / Shasta Hanchett neighborhood school. High percentages of the students either comes from the Luther Burbank areas or are bused from downtown San Jose area. The Principal's lack of fluency in the English language has limit her involvements and participations with the school activities. She is more comfortable and thus immersed herself with the Spanish speaking community. The current year also saw some significant changes in the upper grade. The 5th. grade teachers decided to change the curricula such that the students no longer has a home room. They will be asked to move from classroom to classroom for different subjects. This was done for the sole purposed of alleviating the inconvenience on each teacher to prepare materials for the entire 5 subjects. This way each teacher has only to prepare 2 to 3 subjects only, placing the inconvenience on the students who have to go from classroom to classroom in order to take the different subjects.
As a Trace parent I find the June 8th review a bit odd. Sure the school has issues but not having English communications/hung up phone calls are not it - we've not had issues with either. It would be interesting to hear more about "sweeping important issues under the rug"... So far we're actually pleased with the school, the teachers and the small but effective PTO. The new facilities are nice and the arts/drama/music and the Spanish Immersion program (TWBI) are fantastic. However, the administration lacks initiative (note to site editor the principal name is wrong - it is Anacelia Rocha). We've seen many good teachers leave and cite lack of support from the principal. The principal should acknowledge issues, set the bar high and focus on improvement. She should get parents engaged to help in this mission. The school needs parents helping due to lack of teacher aides - and that needs to be driven from top down as the teachers are inconsistent in soliciting parent support. The school also needs more resources for behavioral issues - few disruptive kids ruin the experience and should be moved to special ed classes. The principal should aggressively seek district help.
What a disappointment this school has been. The principal would sweep any important issues under the rug, saying they are not a concern of the Trace Families, when they very well were. They was very little communication, and their weekly phone calls consistently hung up on me. When there was paper communications, it wasn't in english, making it really hard to sign permission slips. Fortunately we will not be returning to the school.
Highs: - Strong PTO, but just low participation from parents. It's the same few parents that you see at all the events and activities. - Performing arts program is very strong with great teachers - Certain teachers are very committed to their jobs, you have to know which ones they are. Lows: - Administration isn't very strong or diverse, and many times not available for help. - Focus is on bringing up kids who are low on performance, at the expense of kids who have potential and need to be more challenged. - Not very much focus on cultural diversity education because of such high concentration of certain ethnic backgrounds. - Bullying is a big issue at this school. - Classes are at capacity, mostly 30 to a room, with no in class support except for parent volunteers. - No programs for special needs or gifted and talented education. - Need to update their communications, seem to waste a lot of paper and efforts on sending out multiple notices, seems very inefficient and costly.
The comment about hiring Keith Woodhouse is way off! The school administration is completely separate from the private after school program that hired him. Furthermore, the problem was that Woodhouse's previous employers have him positive work references, instead of reporting him to the police. This allowed unsuspecting child care organizations to hire him. I was actually impressed with how the after school program administration got this guy arrested quickly. It's a terrible situation, but it occurred because the Catholic school and day camps where he worked previously failed to do what's right and allowed other children to become victims. Trace is a good school, it has some issues, a big one is the principal Mrs. Rocha, who has no leadership skills, does not handle bullying properly, and does not work well with parents. The music, arts, drama, and two-way bilingual program are great. And so are the teachers and other staff.
This school's administration is awful!!! They have no idea what they are doing. The parents here are very snobby/cliquey. If your child has any kind of special needs DO NOT SEND HIM/HER HERE. They will be treated poorly by administrators and other parents, and you will have a had time fighting for the services your child might need. Some of the teachers here are excellent - I feel sorry they have to teach at a substandard school.
Based on 2 class levels so far, K & 1st grade in the Two Way Bilingual Program, we are quite happy with both the program and the school. While the principal seems to be operating under crisis mode, and sometimes treading water, her spirit is unrelenting, in her efforts to make Trace a better school. The teachers we have met, including not only the grade level teachers in K & 1st, but also the Drama, Music & Art teacher (yes imagine that a school with dedicated arts teachers!) have been truly phenomenal, And the parental involvement, especially within the Two Way Bilingual Program, is incredible. It has given our family a chance to come out of our own cultural comfort zone to meet more folks and watch our child becomes fluent in English AND Spanish. Already a few short weeks into 1st grade, our child's ability in Spanish far outstrips most of us who learned foreign language in HS. The immersion part of the program starts off a bit challenging but has been amazingly effective for both the native and non-native English speakers in the class. Active parents get amazing results here at Trace, But don't just read the reviews, contact the PTO & meet some parents to get a better picture.
We're leaving the school this year. Our son is going into fourth, and he is middle of the pack, but has already been identified as one that won't move in the quartiles--so the teacher will just let him move along, uninspired. A kid has to be special to even make the radar. The teachers have to guess what kids have potential to move from below avg to avg or from average to above average. I tried volunteering inthe classroom, but when I grading math papers, the teacher gave a list of "hopeless" kids and told me not waste my time on their papers. Apparently, the principal said they can't afford to help those kids, they have to try to Improve their state test scores. The bottom three scores are thrown out. I guess it's no child left behind except the three who need it... Trace is morbidly managed.