Of course we feel that Almaden Country School is an amazing school for our children. We have been at ACS for nine years now. The community is welcoming and provides a nurturing environment where the students and faculty thrive. But you can't help and wonder if it is it enough. Are our children learning the skills they need to get into a great high school of their choice? Once there, are they able to keep up with their peers? After recently attending open houses at St Francis HS and Presentation HS, the answers were apparent. Almaden Country School graduates have a presence. They are not only attending these top high schools; they are leaders there. It was reassuring to speak with the ACS alum at both schools. They continue to thrive with confidence and ease. It is not a coincidence that these great kids are doing so well, especially when they refer to their ACS experience as a contributing factor to their success. I could go on and on about the fabulous programs at ACS which have truly enriched our children, but there is great comfort knowing that ACS is preparing them for their long educational journey which lies ahead of them!
ACS is s school that was founded on the principle that every student is special and gifted. I recently had the opportunity to meet Nan Hunter, the founder, and she asked me, "Do you have more than one child? Yes? Which one is more special?" When I looked at her with surprise - she smiled and said, "That is what ACS stands for - everyone is special in someway - it is our job to help and encourage children to know that, show them that success in one area can help them be resilient in more difficult areas." And I thought how true - my son skips to his classroom and loves seeing what everyday brings. We are a proud ACS family, at an innovative school that is preparing children to be successful and respectful in life.....a gift for ACS is a gift for all schools as they consistently try to bring out the best in students, other schools, and our community.
Our family has been at ACS for nearly 10 years. Before our children started, we visited the school and were so impressed by the confident students who looked you right in the eye and talked directly to you. Now we are watching our children develop into strong students who have an interest in art, music, drama, science, technology and so much more. ACS is an incredible community for our children and our family.
Almaden Country School is great because it knows how to balance the progressive and the traditional in terms of academics and cultural attitude. My 5th grader is enjoying her new flip class in Math and Language Arts yet feels anchored in being able to research and present her heritage project like her older siblings have done before her. Dr. Jorgenson is transparent and if you attend his Third Thursday Chats you'll get to hear that the school has made professional development for faculty and staff a priority. Yet they are very thoughtful not to be swayed by every whiz bang educational theory out there. Yes, hiring of young faculty can be unsettling but it's these fresh faces who partner with our experienced faculty who introduce us to the new way our youngsters learn.
My daughter started a Jr K this year, and I love this school. I see how much the teachers care and spend time with her, as she is learning English (her primary language is Russian). I love all the different activities and ways the kids are learning. My kid is a picky eater, and teachers at school spend time with her to make sure she eats at least some part of her hot lunch. I can't say enough good things about different programs at school. I love their bug buddy idea, and when I see how the 7th grader spends time with my kid, it bring a tear to my eyes. From my point of view, If the kids who doesn't understand everything and cannot express herself still loves to go to school and looking forward to it every day, the school is great!
From the moment we set foot on campus the very first day we felt like the school was an extension of home. When I drop him off I feel as though I am leaving him with family. We are always greeted with smiles and warmth from his teachers (and anyone else we come across for that matter). The entire administration is hands-on involved in the classrooms and the day to day operations. They are very approachable. The teachers go out of their way to make sure all of the parents have all the information they need about what s happening with their child in the class each day as well as the plan for what they will be learning each week. They always help us to feel in-the-know We are very encouraged as parents to take full participation with the school s daily activities. From being in the classroom to help, to assisting with special events, and taking part in meetings about the school s philosophies and future; we are always an active participant in our children s education. This is a place that allows children to be children; to explore their world and learn in the way that suits them best instead of a cookie cutter textbook method. This is not just an education is it a life preparation.
I recently had the opportunity to watch the ACS 7th grade interact at 5:15 a.m. at the San Jose Airport leaving for their annual field trip. You could imagine the excitement and very little sleep the night before, they may not have been fully cognitive at 5:15 in the morning. But what I witnessed was a group of excited but respectful children, interacting and following direction of the lead chaperone in a way that he never needed to raise a voice above conversation tone. The respect the chaperone delivered with his words and direction matched the actions of the children. The class has been taught "Definite Dozen terms, which includes learning to be responsible, respecting differences and using character over reputation. It was obvious that these teachings had moved off the page and into action and you could see the sigh of relief from their parents watching with the comment this is why we send our child to Almaden Country School. To add, I also witnessed the impact on other travelers at the San Jose Airport thinking to themselves, I wonder what school that is? It was a pleasure watching confident, respectful and happy young adults, which is exactly why our family chose ACS.
We love Almaden Country School, and more importantly so do my kids! The quality of teachers, the close-knit ACS community, and well-rounded academics have made for a fantastic experience.
ACS is strongly focused on tradition and values, but not so much on academic innovation. We were told ACS provides differentiated academics, but we never saw signs of this in our child's class. This is a great school for folks looking for a more traditional environment, something that captures the best of elementary schools as they were 50-60 years ago. Classes are small, kids are treated respectfully, teachers are kind, the parent community is involved and active. But the school seems backward rather than forward facing. We chose ACS because its attitudes about social/emotional development seemed ahead of the game, and we left because the school was simply not progressive enough. I think ACS is a good school that could be great if the administration would take to heart some of the very forward-thinking and progressive sentiments expressed by the head of school. We loved Dr. Jorgensen....but make no mistake, he's only the public (PR) face of ACS and not in charge of steering the ship.
All great things said about this school, there is one major drawback - a starting time is 8am... This time is NOT normal, kids and their parents are chronically sleep deprived, and the family time is out of whack. For all these years we have been at ACS we are suffering badly. Some families commute from Evergreen and beyond, poor kids have to get up at 6, not to mention their parents. The administration have come up with all kinds of lame excuses to justify this starting time, e.g. working parents, lack of extended care in the morning, etc. What working parents? 99% of the moms are either stay at home or work from home moms. And those who do work could have figured out their work schedule. The school year could also easily be extended by a couple of weeks to accommodate for shorter day. 9am would be ideal, but, unfortunately, they do not want to do it... Before you enroll, think carefully if you can tolerate this 8am starting time!
My child won't be returning to ACS next year. Elementary school was ok but I don't feel comfortable sending my child to ACS for middle school. For some reason there is a high turnover of middle school teachers. This year there was one new teacher for each of the 6th, 7th and 8th grades. Also for science, they hired a new science teacher that is fresh out of school. For the amount of money I paid, I expect my child to have experienced teachers and more stability.
Each of my three children emerged from their kindergarten year at ACS happy, confident and engaged in learning, even though one didn't even want to go to school at first. I credit the caring and professional kindergarten teachers (three different ones!), and a curriculum and classroom environment designed to engage and delight. Kindergarten is vital because that is when attitudes about learning and self-concept begin to take shape. Soon, two will have graduated from 8th grade at ACS and the third will have completed elementary school. All are thriving, successful students. ACS aims to nurture and engage, never to overwhelm or stress. Teachers take a personal interest in their students and develop a rapport that fosters confident, respectful, engaged and well-adjusted young adults. In middle school, a heavy emphasis on teaching effective study skills is balanced by interesting and engaging electives, service and leadership opportunities, and enriching field trips and school events. Volunteer opportunities abound, and finding families who will give service is one goal of the administration. Expanding financial aid is a goal, also, and one that is dependent upon donations.
I'm not sure why this school has such high ratings. My experience was horrific! The admissions lady kept checking out what I wore and wouldn't answer any of my questions regarding curriculum and did not make any eye contact because she kept looking at what type of bag I was carrying. She made me feel so uncomfortable that I decided NOT to send my child to this school. It seemed that she was checking me out to see if I had the money or not, by the way she kept checking me out! Parents, avoid this school! Send your kids to a better school that would appreciate their individuality instead of how much money their parents make!
Pros: This school offers small class sizes and loads of individualized attention for students. It uses positive discipline in and out of the classroom which means children are treated with dignity, respect, and encouraged to find appropriate means of communicating with one another, especially during conflict. My child is very happy here and appears to be thriving. Cons: Although the school bills itself as non-religious, prayer does exist in the classrooms (primarily in ECE) and discussion of Christian theology can come up during major holidays like Christmas, Easter, etc. While ACS doesn't widely advertise itself as such, it was founded by a Mormon and many members of the teaching and administrative staff are Mormon. This isn't necessarily a bad thing, but if you are looking for a truly non-religious environment for your child, do your homework first. I would also say the school leans towards a more conservative bent...as noted by the strong emphasis on patriotism and the annual patriotic assembly. And as with any school, the teacher and parent community can be clique-ish and difficult to break into as a new parent/family. We are giving it one more year to assess...stay tuned.
I went to visit this school, but apparently if you have an accent they say, "There is no room at this school for YOUR child". They refuse to even let us visit the school even though we are looking for admission for later. Questions they ask try to probe how much money you make: "Where do you take your kids on vacation, etc."
My son attended a different pre-school last year. Each morning he would ask if he had school. If he heard "yes," he would moan woefully and drag himself out of bed. This same kid now pops out of bed in the morning, and is consistently VERY excited to be going to class. That includes today after a not so good nights sleep. Thanks goes to his fabulous teachers. My daughter has a love of learning that is joyful to watch. She LOVES to read and grabs books off of shelves. She enjoys math and talks highly of the fun she has in class solving problems. Tonight, she ate her dinner quickly so she could read me a book. As she read it, she was laughing at the story and picking up the humor and nuance of the characters and situations. Her love of learning is the product of the ACS teachers who have touched her life these past three years. There are jobs, professions and callings. When I see how excited my kids are to attend ACS, interact with parents and students who are thrilled to be with ACS, get to see the dedication of the staff, I know my kids, and all the students of ACS, are lucky enough to be surrounded by people answering their calling. That is awesome and inspiring.
Our 5th grade and 2nd grade daughters are in their 4th year at ACS and every day they go to school happy then come home happy. Maybe it's the unique experiences they have in drama, science, French, music, art or PE. Maybe it is because their teachers are warm, loving and highly motivating. Or, even though excelling is the norm, they and their friends feel safe, free to be young, curious and joyful each day. We feel fortunate to be a part of a community at ACS where all of these reasons are a reality for our girls. They are part of a community of diverse individuals who are respectful, creative, collaborative and effective members. The same qualities are found in the families at ACS, so with that, we are all happy at the end of the day. Would highly recommend ACS.
My boys are entering the ACS middle school now but have been attending since they were in the preschool program. I am extremely pleased with the school's approach to academics. Although plenty rigorous, the children are learning how to learn (not just study to the test) and doing so with enthusiasm. It is also core to the school's philosophy to nurture the children's emotional and social development. The community is diverse but made up of like-minded families that appreciates letting children be children for as long as they can, especially in the midst of the hustle and bustle of Silicon Valley. Finally, it is the accomplished, poised and eager graduates that signaled to my husband and I that this place was one that we wanted our children to grow in.
Our daughter just finished her first year in Kindergarten at Almaden Country School and we couldn't have had a better year. We chose ACS for the small class sizes, enrichment programs, and qualified staff, but we ended up with so much more. ACS is a school that feels like home away from home. Her teacher was nurturing, creative beyond belief, and had exceptional communication with the parents. It is important to note that the kinder teachers were unified as a grade level and clearly work well together as a team. This is a fantastic quality and shows the strength of the staff. With strong academics, wonderful enrichment programs, a warm and caring staff, and the emphasis on character building among students that permeates the campus, we feel beyond blessed to be at this school. We cannot recommend ACS highly enough and plan on sending all three of our children here.
Our son is a recent graduate of Almaden Country School and we were very sad to see his 8th grade year come to an end. ACS provided our son with so many amazing experiences and opportunities. The relationships he built with peers and teachers will be lasting and are only some of the many gifts he was fortunate to receive at this amazing school. ACS provides an unparalleled environment for learning and an equally unparalleled staff of passionate and caring teachers that make learning interesting and exciting. ACS is a family of caring individuals who together provide a unique, refreshing, and memorable experience for every student.
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