I think reviews are helpful. However I think you need to take a balanced approach. Families generally spend a lot of time considering schools and do everything possible to ensure they find the right fit. Typically after a decision is made, parents tend to look for "proof points" that they indeed made the right decision. This is certainly what we did when we chose St. Mark's, now Mark Day School. We were involved, our child had plenty of friends. We did not have any real issues except my child was not learning all that much. I also witnessed a culture of lack of willingness or ability to problem solve. It was odd. I thought the administrators job was to take issues and turn them into learning opportunities for children and parents alike. I thought paying private school tuition meant I was a stakeholder in the school and my feedback would be valued or at least someone would pretend to value it. Nope. Not at Mark Day School. Stakeholder feedback was not valued by the board, by the administration...they have it all figured out. So get on the train and drink the kool-aide or get off. We eventually got off the train and so happy we did. My child learned more in three weeks at his new school than he did at Mark Day School. Does headmaster shake hands in the morning..absolutely! They do this at many schools. Did he know my child. Nope. Did he care or do anything about the fact my child was bored at school. Unfortunately not or we would still be there! You should carefully consider opinions and hopefully talk to many parents. Not the ones that started at Mark Day School in K and never looked back only to list all the school offers but the ones that can really dig deep about the curriculum. How their child is fairing versus national averages for other independent schools, how the math program stacks up against their neighbors public school, etc.. We found Mark Day School to be fairly innovative but behind in traditional academics. It was not the "academic rigorous" school that was promised. I am so happy we left when we did. My child is thriving at our new school and learning so much more! I write this not to upset anyone but to give an honest review. I am only sorry we wasted so much time at Mark Day School. I hear other parents tell me it's an "uphill battle" to get what they need for their students in terms of differentiation. Why? It's a strange place.
We have one child at Mark Day School who has been there since kindergarten. We could not be happier with the academic program, especially the interdisciplinary approach to teaching and the new tinker lab! The school has a reputation for preparing their graduates well for high school. Believe it! By the time the 8th graders leave Mark Day, they are ready to hit the ground running. They know how to advocate for themselves, juggle multiple subjects and most importantly, develop confidence in themselves, This is a joyful place where the teachers and administrators are committed to providing just the right amount of rigor to challenge young minds yet infuse fun to make learning interesting. If you've ever watched Joe Harvey, the head of school, shaking each student's hands as s/he arrive at school in the morning,, you will see how well he knows each child and the mutual respect they have for one another.
We have 2 very different learners at Mark Day School and both have been extremely well served by the school. Both love going to school and feel supported by their teachers. The academic program challenges and stretches them and yet they know that their teachers want them to be successful. They do a wonderful job of knowing and believing in kids. They know kids develop, learn, evolve and grow during their 9 years at the school. They teach kids to be self-advocates, resilient, to learn from their mistakes, to be great team players by collaborating on projects...these are all essential lessons and skills that are needed in high school, college and life. Teachers and administrators are so committed to the students - they have weekly faculty meetings after school, are always willing to find time to meet with parents and the upper division faculty meets each week to discuss each kid so that nothing slips through the cracks. We have an incredible head of school who knows kids, is a true educator and who has devoted countless hours to ensure that the school can continue to evolve with a new building that will strengthen campus and program.
The decision to send our child to Mark Day School was one of the best decisions we ve made as a family. There are so many reasons why I love this school--high academic standards, a thoughtful and innovative curriculum, ethnic and socioeconomic diversity, deeply committed teachers, and a truly exceptional head of school--but the simplest reason is that my child loves (and is thriving at) Mark Day School. At Mark Day, curiosity is encouraged and mistakes are considered stepping stones for success. Children learn to work collaboratively, think critically and problem solve. Social Emotional Learning, an integral part of the Mark Day School program, fosters emotional intelligence--students develop lifelong skills around empathy, self-advocacy, conflict resolution and more. We all have choices when we select an independent school--I am thrilled that our choice was Mark Day School.
Mark Day School is average at best. It provides a comprehensive program and uses all the innovative "handles" in education today however ultimately we are finding the curriculum weak. A couple of examples, in first grade my daughter studied worms for 3 months. No kidding. Three months of math, science, reading around worms. My child had little to no interest in worms and no one cared. My child was bored and explained that to her teacher. She was told to be patient. Are you kidding me? Many of the teachers are caring and many of the teachers are tired. I think you will find this in many schools. The challenge at Mark Day School is the leadership team that would rather brush issues under the rug than deal with them head on. The attitude is "We know what is best." "You are fortunate to be here, now let us do our jobs." It is so unfortunate because if you are not willing to take a honest look in the mirror, you can't improve. I am also baffled by the fact the admin team is off campus enjoying their hobbies at 4:00 everyday, while strong administrators at other schools are working around the clock to address the needs of their students.
I have two kids at Mark Day School, and we have had a fantastic experience there. My kids classmates are diverse, ethnically and socio-economically. The global education is remarkable my kids have been able to meet and engage with kids and teachers from South Africa, China and Costa Rica. The curriculum is thoughtful and engaging from K to 8th grade. My kids look forward to school everyday. It is a fun, engaging and wonderful community. What I love best is the energy and vibe of the school it is a place where students, teachers and administrators want to be. It is a happy and joyous place to learn.
Every parent wants to give his child the best environment in which she can grow with opportunities, persevere through difficulty, and blossom with confidence. We love MDS because my child loves MDS. Some examples from both our perspectives: + classroom curriculum that uses evidence-based assessment, not just testing + interdisciplinary projects + social/emotional and service learning curriculum + amazing friends + motivated and loving teachers + foreign language instruction beginning in Kindergarten + music, drama, art each every week + public speaking + meaningful, daily interaction with students in other grades + student-driven leadership There are as many reasons for investigating a private school option as there are children, and I find it both surprising and irresponsible that any parent would caution another parent away without knowing anything about that family's reasons for considering the school. No one school is the right environment for everyone. I strongly encourage any prospective parent to investigate the school for himself and make up his own mind. Take these ANONYMOUS reviews with a grain of salt, mine included!
I agree with the parent review from February...the new Mark Day School's school ethos is odd and peculiar, gone are the sweet days of Saint Mark's School. Students are happy but if you are a parent with stringent behavior expectations, you will be disappointed. If you wanted a highly academic curriculum, look elsewhere. Many parents have tried to meet with administration but to no avail. Trustees don't want to hear feedback which leaves parents questioning who is running the show and are the decisions for the greater good of the school? Conditional contracts will eventually push some kids out but leave other disruptive kids to disrupt the more serious learners. There is a lot of attention on the new $10 million dollar building but if the walls could talk, they would say tighten up the classrooms where kids can learn in an uninterrupted atmosphere. People are tired of kids outbursts and bad behavior! Students are aware that there are no serious punishments.
I truly cannot say enough wonderful things about this school. As a recent college graduate moving back to the Bay Area, I think often of the school that gave me roots. Academically, it prepared me extremely well for both high school and college as we learned foundational study skills starting in Kindergarten and built on them through graduation. Moreover, I learned how to be a productive part of a learning community unlike many schools, at Mark Day, it is cool to be smart. This environment fostered a group of students who were openly enthusiastic to learn and took pride in doing so. But what really stands out in my memory, and still makes me feel the pull of home, is the school community itself. As students, we grew up here, and the teachers nurtured us as we did. Amidst this caring group of people, we felt safe to test our mental limits as students and grew confident in ourselves as individuals. -Alum
Mark Day School has an odd and peculiar culture. Ultimately we don't feel it meets our expectations due to leadership mindset and executional challenges. It has terrific intentions and uses all the correct "buzz" words in education today. It actually has programs in place but really dig deep on how/when they will impact your child. I think if you look closely you will see executional challenges left and right. They tout a global edu program but my child was not directly impacted in a meaningful way during the several years we have been at the school. The challenge is two-fold for us. #1. If you are not an extreme liberal, you will find approach and head of school frustrating. They will not admit but deeply believe that "differentiation" in education is a show of elitism. It was even said outloud at a parent meeting by administration. This being true, you can count on little to no upward differentiation but they will help those struggling to the extent possible. Please note, small school = lack of resources so you may be better off elsewhere. If your child is on the other end of the spectrum and bored with grade level curriculum- DO NOT GO TO THIS SCHOOL.