First: the good things about McKinley. There is a core group of committed and involved parents who create wonderful things: a lovely school garden, book fairs, harvest festival, and more. The student body is diverse and we very much appreciated that. There are committed teachers that do the best work they can there.
The bad: The district tends to overlook this school--things that are broken stay broken. It has the smallest library of any SMM school, and the library is falling apart. The fairly new principal has not shown any educational vision and seems to be most concerned that students wear school colors on Friday. The other problems are endemic to the public school system: classes with one teacher and an aide who is only there for 1 1/2 hours; some teachers (well, one in first grade anyway) who have been there for decades and do whatever they want to with impunity, to the detriment of students; an inefficient bureaucracy that is slow to change and respond to changes in educational philosophy; an over-emphasis on testing and teaching to the test.
We've been at McKinley for two years and my daughter absolutely loves going to school each day. Her K and Grade 1 teachers were amazing. Parents are very involved and though we've had a change in administration over the past year, the staff/teachers/PTA/parent volunteers have continued to maintain the high level of life long learning we all come to expect from our schools. She has had science, art, and music throughout both years. My only complaint is how long it takes for the district to "fix" things around the school and that some of the facilities on campus (restrooms, ramps to the bungalows, etc.) seem to be pushed to the back when repairs are needed. Because this is a neighborhood school, many children walk/bike/scoot to school and we see school mates/parents all around our community.
McKinley is like a little home away from home for the students, faculty, and families of Santa Monica. Family and community involvement is what makes this little gem of a school so special. Everything that McKinley does and achieves is supported and promoted by the families of students. Without such a great community involvement, McKinley wouldn't be as amazing as it is today. With teachers, students learn... but with parents, teachers, and students working together, learning soars.
McKinley is a good school that my child looks forward to attending each morning. All of my child's teachers have had high expectations of the students, and I see most of the children blossoming as one would hope every year. It makes a huge difference when parents get involved on any level they can, even if it means just making sure your child does his or her homework. Overall, my family is very happy with our small, neighborhood school, McKinley.
My son has an excellent teacher. I appreciate how she has really helped him build a strong foundation. The progress I have seen over the course of the year is more significant than I would have imagined. He came to first grade able to read simple one line sentences and can now fluidly read full paragraphs over multiple pages. My expectations have been exceeded. Thank you!
My son had his first school year at Mckinley and It truly is a GEM, He has been to another SM school and this school is so much better. Quality caring staff without the stuffy uptight environment that other schools in the area have.
This is the second year our child has been at McKinley and we couldn't ask for more in a school. The quality of instruction is exceptional, the community welcoming and the leaderpship outstanding. In relation to previous negative comments regarding front office staff, the principal has listened to these concerns and implemented positive change. The school works to build strong character in all of its students. All staff from custodians to the principal recognize students for making good choices and helping others. McKinley offers parents many ways in which to be invovled whether it's through volunteering in the classroom or participating in myriad activities the PTA has to offer. (We would also give the school a greater number of stars however, this website would not allow us to do so)
We have been so thrilled with our experience thus far. The teachers, staff and principal are well qualified and genuinely care and take pride in their school. The diverse student body is extraordinary making it a true microcosm and wonderflul community. The beautiful campus and smaller student body only adds to everyone's rich experience at this well kept Santa Monica secret.
I don't get nor see the things that are alleged in some of these negative reviews. McKinley is by far, the best school my child has attended! & It's starts from the top. The Principal knows the direction & vision the school needs to go in. McKinley has been named one of the best schools under her watch & there is no disputing that. My child's experience has been great. She loves learning & being challenged by all her teachers. Even when one of her teachers had to take a leave of absence, McKinley did a great job finding an excellent sub. So much so, we even hired the sub as a private tutor during the summer. The lunch program is healthy & has a variety of choices for our kids. McKinley offers some affordable after school programs for parents like myself, who work long days on occasion. Parent involvement is pretty good & there are PLENTY of opportunities to volunteer & get involved with your child's class. The bottom line is you get what YOU put into it. I also used this site to review a good school for my child....I'm sure glad I chose McKinley & you will too.