We are in our first year of Washington Open, in first grade. We didn't get into Kindergarten here, so we went to our homeschool. My son loved our homeschool, but when we got in through the lottery system this year, I decided to take him out of his school and try WO. I'm starting to think this was a big mistake. There's so much hoopla surrounding the school that I though I was making a good choice. I did the tours as well and thought, ok, this will be good! First of all, my son learned what he is learning now, in kindergarten. He is craving to be more challenged, so we are going to start supplementing from home. Our teacher is great, which is a big plus and I know we are going to love the field trips (although we've been to most, if not all the places already) and other activities planned for the school year. I like their philosophy of educating the whole child, but I don't see that happening, especially with those kids who want and need to be a little more challenged. We will see how this year goes!
We came to this school attracted by the whole child philosophy. The kindergarten was great; the teachers were organized and responsible. In 1st grade the things changed for worse and they stayed worse through 2nd gr. The teacher was not helping the kids realize their whole potential; she worked only with the kids who needed most help so the others were left get bored and to do whatever; any kid with academic potential was unchallenged and withered. While trying to convince parents that the whole child philosophy does not include academics she didn't do much on the social aspect either: many kids were disrespectful to parents and even to the teacher; the class was very noisy and disorganized. They should do the parent/teacher conference at the end of the year too to see how much was accomplished. None of the goals set at the beginning of the year was ever accomplished. No wonder then the API of 4 for 2nd grade this year, it is on par with the education delivered I am so sad that these two years in my child s life were a waste of time. No wonder many families left for better schools. 1st and 2nd grade at WO were more like a daycare but not a place of education.
My child attended WO for Kindergarten and first grade, this year we have moved out of state and are attending a more traditional, academic school. I love WO and miss it a lot. I enjoyed working with the kids and getting to know all of them. I loved the community spirit and I felt genuine warmth and caring towards myself and my child from all the staff and teachers I met. I love the center style small group learning at WO that allows teachers regular 1-on-1 time with the kids, classroom flexibility for fun and interactive projects, and allows kids to learn from many different types of activities. They also get plenty of socialization time. It was a fun and happy place to be. I can't speak to the academics of the upper grades. I think parent involvement (supplementation) is always a must regardless of the school type. I felt the K-1st activities provided a foundational understanding of numbers, and promoted a love of writing and reading. The children learn more from interacting with numbers, words, people, and problems in different ways than from direct instruction. Our new academic school gets great test scores but doesn't inspire my love (yet).
I am very disappointed with WO!!!! Both of my kids were there since Kinder...and I just pull them out this year. The whole child concept is great, but my children isn't whole because they didn't have the academic side of it. There are good teachers and not so good either, but more missed placed than anything. If you have kids that is going into third grade...good luck. You need to supplement a lot at home. They don't teach them anything..!!! Oh don't even think about bringing it up to the principal...she won't help, but make it your problem to deal with. The teachers are way too entiled there. I was disappointed to say the least. From what I heard and experienced...WO was a good school that has gone down hill.
I am surprised by the response of parents to a neg. review. I think that while some of what the person said might be from personal feelings, I don't think that you can count it out. WO is NOT academic . The reason children do well on Star is because of parents who supplement at home. The teachers have gotten a little lazy and feel entitled. I have heard 3rd grade teachers say they don't get paid enough to put up with the class. I find that interesting since santa clara teachers are the 5th hightest paid in the state. I think that we can be both acedemic and social, it doesn't have to be one or the other. I also think that the principal is more worried about her image than making sure that her teachers do their jobs.The only way you can make it a better school is to acknowledge the problems and find solutions, sticking your head in the sand and pretending the school is perfect is not the option. I also resent the notion that if you disagree then its not the school for you, That is like saying there is no room for discuss. & change. Lets not forget that WO was started by parents who wanted change and a better learning environment for their child, that didn't mean sacrafice education.
As a parent of Washington Open, I am very surprised by some of the negative reviews, but everyone is entitled to their opinion. This has not been our experience at all. WO is not a place were as parents you are always going to get your way, but we have found the school to be very fair and balanced with all decisions. We have found the teachers and staff to be very professional; concerned that our children are getting the best all round education not just academics, but social and emotional, and learning life/people skills that will serve them for the rest of their lives. This has been a great fit for our children, a caring fun environment where children are allowed to learn with teachers that truly care about our children s development. I have found the Principal to take charge and deal with all issues that arise and not sweep anything under the table or to ignore them no matter what the issue may be. WO is a unique environment for learning that may not be right for everyone, but it has been a wonderful fun experience for our children. Oh and they are learning a lot, both academically and in developing life s skills, the end result will be successful adults.
As a parent at WO, I am very disheartened by the recent reviews of our school. If academics is what your family values most in an elementary school, then WO may not be a good fit,but if you are looking for a school that looks at each child as an individual&sees potential in who they can become&provides an environment that can help guide them to reach their full potential,then yes WO is the place to be. Admittedly, academics aren't aggressively pursued, but then again the test scores aren't too shabby either. WO provides the right mix of emotional, social,&personal growth interspersed with the 'traditional' academic program,WO after all still has to meet state standards. What they are doing though, is meeting those standards while also teaching our 'future' how to think out side of the box. This includes how to communicate effectively with a wide variety of people,how to have their voice heard&needs met without being afraid of authority. Yes, to some, that may seem 'disrespectful', but taken in the context of it being a life skill they will use always, isn't it really a gift we are giving them? So to all that feel that their children are 'suffering' I wish you the best of luck.
I am also a parent from Washington Open. I agree that the school is not strong in academics and I also agree that there are some wonderful teachers and below average teachers. However, I strongly disagree that children are being groomed to be unmotivated, disrespectful citizens from the previous review. I have known this family at the school for a while. The mom is always late (always more than 15 minutes late) picking up her son and the dad simply just doesn't do too much with the boy. The boy is the most disrespectful kid I have ever met in my life. We as parents need to teach our kids to respect us and others. When the kids are constantly being ignored at home, you will of course have an unmotivated and disrespectful child at home and school because they are craving for the attention. The person who wrote the previous review maybe need to look into the environment he or she is providing instead of blaming the school. Most of the children I met at the school are very respectful, loving, and sweet.
As a parent of 2 children at WO (3rd&4th), I feel very disappointed at the lack of academics that my children are getting. I am expected to do 110%at the school, but then I also need to do 110% at home to keep them academically on par. This wouldn't be so much of an issue if the whole child philosophy was adhered to, but unfortunately it isn't. My children are being groomed to be unmotivated,disrespectful citizens and I feel that this is not the school for us. What sealed the deal was my year long tenure on the parent board. This parent board which should be representative of the parents/families at WO really is just a few people who like to hear themselves talk. The high and mighty attitudes get in the way of real issues that are facing this school, such as bullying, a principal that doesn't do anything by way of leading, teachers that can't teach much less control the class they have. I'm so disappointed that I let my children suffer at the hands of the whole child philosophy for so long. My only hope is that I can get them in a school that can truly meet their needs and help other families make a informed choice of elementary school. best of luck, a very concerned parent
The school's whole child philosophy is great in theory, but unfortunately the reality doesn't match the school's philosophy. There are issues with bullying that are not adequately addressed, I agree with the 3rd grade parent where the "principal encourages everyone to trust the intention" but she is not giving us a reason to trust her intention. These (many) incidents of bullying have been brought to her attention, but that's where it ended. No action taken and the problem still exists. To trust the intention is one thing when your child is safe and feels safe, but in all honesty, that 'intention' can't be trusted when not all of the children are feeling safe. Here is where the "whole child" philosophy gets lost.
I'm giving the school two stars because third grade was so disappointing and difficult. The school's "whole child" philosophy is great, but some of the teachers and the principal's behavior do not match the philosophy. The K-2 grade teachers were kind, patient, and pretty effective at classroom management. However, third grade was chaotic; the third grade teachers were sometimes unprepared or only half prepared with lessons (this is very frustrating when you are working in the classroom). One teacher often gave verbal instructions, and then changed her mind about the instructions half way through giving them. The students AND parents were often confused by this. Consistent written instructions would have been helpful. She didn't consistently use the classroom management tools, so the classroom was often out of control. She sometimes made idle threats. She yelled and was sarcastic. The principal encourages everyone to "trust the intention," but she is unhelpful when problems arise. She is often not a good listener and doesn't trust the intention of the parents. When parents approach her with a problem, she'll often make accusations or ask accusing questions.
Both of my daughters have gone to this school, and I was very pleased with the teachers and the overall parent involvment. I would recommend this school to others.
Lots of parent involvment, good teachers for the most part. Overall, a solid school to attend.
I agree entirely with the other three star reviews: too much parental involvement (required), too little teacher input, low self discipline, and concerns are resolved their way, if addressed at all. The hands-on, fun atmosphere is nice, but over the top, and though test scores show students are performing well now, I worry about their jr. high and high school years. I like to be supportive of my kids education, and involved in the process, but I was relieved to leave this school.
The teachers are fantastic and dedicated. Parents are very involved and the school has a great "community" feeling.
This is a parent participation alternative school. There is so much 'extra' effort put into the multi faceted curriculum by teachers, parents, families and of course the students, it deserves to be a favorite school.
Love the way everyone looks out for everyone's kids and how everyone is so involved!
Best choice I made was to send my 2 children to Washington Open. The hands on experiances give so much more meaning to what they are learning. The places they go on field trips are wonderful, enriching the learning process so much more. Every teacher is terrific. Yes, it takes volunteer time but hasn't been as hard as you might think and I am a working parent. My children are getting a whole community of support. Great life lessons. Learning made enjoyable so children love school and want to learn.
As a Washington Open parent of 6 years, I agree that this school is not for all families. If you expect a traditional setting where 'discipline' looks like children quietly working at the their desks, this is not a good place for you. If you believe in whole child education, view the learning process as an ongoing one that will hit benchmarks at different times for different children due to variations in development, and are willing to put yourself into the school community and not just look for a place to ship your child off to every day, this place is miraculous. Great teachers, huge range of activities made possible by the parent association, and a focus on life learning and not just book learning. So perhaps API scores are under 900, but Washington Open kids tend to excel as they move forward, as they know how to work together.
I would disagree that there are no formal programs to teach fundamental academics. Each child is accepted at whatever level they are and supported to excel. While the activities at this school do 'appear' different than a traditional school (lots of centers, movement, activity, noise), there is a lot of learning that is taking place. More importantly, the kind of learning that is happening includes taking responsibility, making appropriate choices, and resolving conflicts, as well as traditional academics. Kids leave this school with a solid sense of who they are and how they learn. Each child is regarded as an individual with social, emotional, and academic needs. Students are active participants in their own learning, not bystanders. They take part in student-teacher-parent conferences to set personal goals for themselves. They are motived to learn for the sake of learning, not to get a reward or good grade.
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The Community Rating is the school’s average rating from its community members (e.g., parents, students, and school staff). The highest possible rating is five stars; the lowest is one star.
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