This school values and supports the child's inquisitive mind and natural desire to learn and be a full participant in his/her world, unique and wonderful in a overall public education system enslaved to race to nowhere state testing and funding/ranking issues. Has a wonderful community of caring parents along with many of its teachers, and children w ho feel part of a bigger picture- learning to be good citizens in the world. In certain cases "alternative" however seems to include a lack of accountability around state benchmarks and curriculum, particularly in math, even where they are developmentally appropriate. There also seems to be an "alternative" approach to sound protocols around classroom management , school operations and student behavior, which is confusing at best at times. Small classroom size is a huge plus in terms of following student interests and projects, and instilling joy in learning rather than rote. Middle school is not fraught with the normal "risk" behaviors that emerge at this age at other schools- a huge plus. There is no principal or asst principal on site a couple of days a week- this can be problematic along w/ other leadership issues.
This school has probably the most involved, cohesive group of parents in the school district. Educational quality tends to be very good in the lower grades and spotty at best in the middle grades. Don't come expecting any real connection to John Dewey and his educational models. Let's call this progressive lite, at best. What really draws people to the school is the small size. Academic rigor is either absent or arbitrary. Although not openly discussed, most parents heavily supplement their children's education outside of school. In general 3/5 of families who try the school love it and 2/5 hate it and leave. Only you can tell which group you'll fall into.
This is a great school for students who are considered at risk academically for an array of reasons. One of the problems with at-risk students is that they felt lost and isolated in the large school and once they enter this school they feel a sense of community. Special-needs students need to feel comfortable in an inclusion setting. If they do not, they should consider other restrictive settings i.e. separate classroom, separate school, residential school and home/hospital.
AMAZING school. Best thing about it is the size - only 230 kids kindergarten THRU 8th grade. So you virtually know every family. And the principal knows EVERY family personally. VERY community oriented. The way they teach (project based, multi-age, wholechild approach) actually enables kids to learn DEEPER and more PROFOUNDLY (instead of quickly and by route). Because of this approach, my child placed ADVANCED in Reading/Writing AND math on the state examines. So - don't buy into believing that this is not an academic school and that there is no structure. There IS structure, a ton of it, but it is organic and pertinent. YES - there is homework - but it is never for the sake of just keeping your kids busy. FYI - most of the kids who graduate SMASH transition smoothly into SAMOHI and do amazingly well in Honors and AP courses.
If your child is lucky enough to get in (admission is by lottery), you have hit the lottery. Children learn the standard grade-appropriate curriculum, but in a different way. Learing is project-based as opposed to text-book based. The projects are chosen based on student interest. Classes are smaller. Teacher/student relationships and the classroom are less formal. There is more give-and-take. More respect of the students' interests, contributions and ideas. Overall, SMASH provides a much less restrictive and more creative learning environmet.
The children at SMASH are respected as valuable and capable individuals in their community. The SMASH teaching philosophy targets the student as a whole person not just an academic vessel, and allows each child to blossom according to their own unique talents and personality.
Easy going school, fun for kids and parents, but academically weak in many areas. Reading/writing is great, but very, very weak in math and there is barely any science there. Too bad, since the school has a lot to offer, it's small and intimate, teachers and staff are caring, families and kids feel part of a community, they treat kids with respect and teach them to act responsibly. All of that is fantastic, but for SMASH to be a great school, it needs to improve on actual education.
It's a great school that teaches children to love learning. The kids get all the skills they'd get in any other school, but at SMASH they remain curious, active participants in their education. The school has a dedicated staff and administration, but could not do what they do without a strong PTSO. The parents take up where the state and city leave off. In these tough economic times, it is really what makes the difference.
Love the amazing community and the sensitivity and insight brought to each child. Very child centered approach to learning and my Kindergartner is on fire to do/learn more w/ engaging, experiential learning and well contained classroom. One query- why are the APIs so low when other 'alternative' type schools have good scores (such as OPEN Charter and Ocean Charter). I think the standardized testing can become a tyrant- informing all that goes on (much of it rote) in classrooms, but it's good for kids to be able to be strong thinkers and have some of hte traditional skills. What can SMASH learn from alternative schools whose students seem to have both skill sets?
This an amazing school. There is a robust social curriculum as well as an amazing academic one! The children learn to love learning, to be independent critical thinkers and to be responsible, caring members of a community!
This school is so amazing - my son is learning so much and really loves going to school - the teachers are exciting and interesting and everyone is very involved in the day to day activities. Bravo SMASH!
We love SMASH. It is a smaller school and children get a lot of attention and room to explore their own interests while developing socially. The progressive eduction is surprisingly academic and the school has very high standards for education. In response to another review, I'm aware that one class had a large number of energetic challenging students that sometimes were rambunctious. This is the exception, not the rule. Generally SMASH has a high degree of parent participation in the classroom and is able to help a wide range of kids succeed. Much time is spent helping the students communicate with each other and work out issues. A wonderful school!
Great, progressive curriculum but disruptive and harsh social environment. Kids are left to 'fend for themselves' and sort out social problems without help from the teachers, which leads to a gang-like atmousphere. We are VERY disappointed in the social curriculum and probably won't stay at this school. If you have a sensitive, highly intelligent child, there are better places to look.
SMASH is a great school. My daughter has developed so much, not just academically but also as a person. SMASH offers a wonderful learning environment and has great teachers. What I like the most is that my daughter doesn't feel stressed about her work load but excited to learn more.
I don't go a day when I am not thankful that my daughter goes to SMASH. The teachers and staff are great, and the method of teaching creates an group of kids who are thinking for one's self, while respecting each other's ideas. I feel like the way they learn is preparing them for college - even when they are only in kindergarten or first grade!
SMASH is a school of choice. Students are chosen from a lottery so most parents are like minded in their vision for progessive education. There isn't a one size fits all mentality. Students are encouraged to work at a pace that is comfortable and at the same time challenging for themselves. The student body is small (20-22 kids per grade) so the community is very tight. Middle school kids have reading buddies in the lower grades and there is an absence of bullying and peer pressure. Our experience so far has been fantastic.
Everyday we feel lucky to come to this school. And we feel that it's not only a school, it's a community. Students, parents and teachers are all involved. It's a smaller school with tighter focus per child than larger schools. By the way, SMASH has art, music and language programs that are funded by the SMASH PTSA. Speaking of the PTSA, there is an incredible amount of parent involvement at this school. Lots of fundraisers (though no more than other public school and possibly less than some private schools) which help to build that community feeling along with funds for special programs.
SMASH is a great school for parents who are seeking a developmental approach for their child's education. Positives attributes include: Small school (190 kids from K-8), high parent involvement, good sense of community and responsibility for kids, real world curriculum for all subjects, 2 year looping classrooms with same teachers. Negatives include: loose adademic standards, no measurable quantitative assessments to track child's progress, risk of kids with learning disabilities falling through the cracks, no dedicated special education classes,small school does not benefit from district wide programs that are offered at larger campuses, such as art and music classes, special ed/ gifted programs. Also, SMASH is occasionally threatened (more often than other schools with district) with funding cuts due to the small student population. Current (2005) Principal is a first time administrator, from a middle school teacher background at the school site. Has a reputation of tending to side with teachers over parent
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