This is a safe place to share your honest opinions of a school, whether good or bad.
Christa McAuliffe Elementary School5
Posted November 24, 2013
- a parent
This is our third year at this school, and each year is an eye opener, to the way the kids blossom. With parent aiding comes the responsibility of getting to know every child, the school philosophy and developing a deep understanding of what makes the kids grow self esteem, confidence, develop a sense of community and collaboration while developing academically. Teachers are very focused on each child's unique needs, and small groups allow for diversity in learning and emotional levels. Parent-teacher meetings are not limited to scheduled ones, every conversation with the teacher is enriching. Very recently, middle schoolers took ownership of changing out our school's old flag, debated how it should be properly retired, educated every class from k -8, and the new flag hoisting ceremony had a huge voluntary turnout with many tears expressing the profound emotion befitting the stature of the national flag. Those who doubt parent-teacher-administration-student respect and care in this school only need attend the school site council meetings and hear the student members share, opine and debate at ease with the many adults around.
YMMV but my experience is that the day to day practices at McAuliffe fall short of their stated ideals, the training is good but inadequate, grounds supervision and teaching (outside of the evaluated subjects) is almost entirely delegated to parents and thus there is little individualized feedback in those numerous areas, and the constructivist style learning is not nuanced. If this sounds like Greek to you, then simply ignore this review. If not, then you may want to visit the school outside of its normal tours to see how the children spend their time during field trips (read the school newsletters for upcoming public sightings), and how the parent aides and children act both during and outside of school hours on campus. Nothing controversial but a good reality check. I think it would also be good to get a sample breakdown of the weekly activity schedule to better understand the frequency of transitions, the amount of teacher vs aide involvement in your child's day, and balance of academic, to social, to co-curricular lessons. All that said, if you want a progressive education for your child and public schooling is your only option, this one is probably a leading institution.
I went here as a child. Favorite teachers are Steve and Ben. Wish they were a little firmer on standard practices like deadlines. Their Pass / Fail / Mastered grading system could use an update. Most valuable characteristic i learned here was collaborative team building. Now making over 100k, so it worked.
There is a new principal there now; I hope they can turn things back around. First time through we had a great experience, second time through it was completely different; the best teachers left, the previously friendly teachers were not friendly anymore, and some didn't even teach anything at all, not at all the same experience.
My two children have attended this school, once since 1st grade and the younger since kindergarten. My children are very different, my first being very math & science focussed, my second being very drama & story telling-centric. Both have blossomed and been lead to their best in each classroom they've been in. My first born is extremely gifted & has always been stretched & celebrated by each teacher. He has not been bored. We don't do any outside classwork, beyond things based on their interest, & this may make school seem exciting as opposed to students who do an after-school academic day care, or school-work at home. However, my son purchased & worked through an algebra book in 4th grade on his own after school, & still found in-school math fun. A key difference is that this was his choice & he loved it. He was never moved to 'the next level' in math, however, but was given deeper & more subtle challenges within the grade level. I'm very glad this was the approach taken. Both of my kids don't see academics as a 'to do' item, but as a passion.
Also to the parent that complained about the contribution: What is mandatory is that you do a tour and attend an information session about the school. When you do this, you become aware of the many extra's you get at McAuliffe that include: field trips, supplies for the classroom, supplies for art, science, math, literature, PE, gardening, cooking, two part time librarians and instructional aids for ALL classrooms. You also become aware of what will be asked of you when you VOLUNTARILY come to McAuliffe. That includes a monetary contribution, aiding hours in the classroom and driving/chaperon hours for field trips. If you do not like what is being asked of you, do not choose to leave your neighborhood school and come to McAuliffe. IF you make a choice to have your family attend this school because of the many field trips, unique learning opportunities, small group activities, etc...you need to participate and fulfill ALL your commitments to the school. Please keep in mind that we do not ask you to sell popcorn,cookies, gift wrap, candy nor do we ask you to wash cars to raise money for all the items I have previously listed. We ask for a contribution, not fundraising.
To the parent that complains about the contribution. The payment is not mandatory!!! This contribution pays for the instructional aide for every classroom, field trips, cooking class supplies, classroom supplies and much more. if you go to Stokelmeir there is 1 instructional aide to 5 classes. Please go to your home/local school if a contribution to your school community for an instructional aide in each class and other ammenities is not what you want.
It is supposed to be a public school, though there is a m-a-n-d-a-t-o-r-y "contribution" (donation!), to be paid, 1k per child, and it is right down annoying if you are late at paying. Also, they want you to pay checks in advance if you don't pay the full amount at the beginning of the school year. This is a public school that demands this payment. As a donation I wish they would be more flexible as to timelines and not remind parents, it is your "commitment" (which alternative do you have if you want your child/children to go to this school?)... Maybe all parent associations are like this, but, kind reminder, this is a p-u-b-l-i-c school. And 1k per child is a significant amount.
Our 8th grade daughter has been at McAuliffe since Kindergarten. We are very pleased with the education she has gotten. As a member of MENSA, she has been academically challenged sufficiently without the stress or threat of grades. McAuliffe offers her the opportunity to explore her interests deeply in the context of student driven projects. Through these projects she has developed valuable critical thinking and researching skills that are usually addressed in high school.
Describing a school is like the blind men describing an elephant: there are so many different facets, they are all true, and none is exclusively true. My experience has been that my son is flourishing, and having rich experiences that friends at other schools aren't. And, I enjoy the heck out of working in the classroom and feeling part of the school.