Pros: 1. Strong PTA, actively engaged parent community raises plenty of resources for the school and also supports teachers in the classrooms. 2. Most teachers are a good mix of fun+ learning+ discipline but there are some bad apples. There are/were some outstanding teachers. 3. Extensive and diverse in-school and after-school programs to cater to pretty much every kind of student: chess, drama, French, robotics, strings, City-X, band etc. 4.Pretty well-rounded education without over-emphasizing computer learning. 5. School (and the students) is still getting used to Common core especially the conceptual aspects of common core. 6. Fairly diverse student population in terms of ethnicity, but most students come from economically comfortable/well-off families. Very few reduced lunch students. 7. Of late, Principal turnover has reduced. The current Principal Mrs. Anita Lee has been in office for about 3 years (since summer of 2013). 8. Home work is manageable, but teachers are open to increasing/decreasing HW based on student needs. 9. Good anti-bullying program but not consistently enforced by all teachers. 10. PTA Board used to be largely Caucasian, it has recently gotten more diverse in the past couple of years.
Cons: 1. Class size is around 24 from K-3, goes up to 32 in 4th and 5th grades for most batches, although there are some exceptions. 2. Teacher turnover is high, some bad apples are not in the school anymore. Some teachers got pulled into the Fairwood Explorer program in the last 3-4 years. Other reasons for high teacher turnover being (guessing here): the school district is not ready to offer tenure to some good teachers due to resources (?) but may be also due to politics in some cases. 3. Not enough noon aides to deal with the growing and diverse student population. Some of the noon aides not having grown up here don’t quite know how to deal with certain situations. This sometimes results in bullying (elementary school kind) go unnoticed. 4.Cultural/Ethnic diversity does not translate into striking friendships with a different background for the students. That’s possibly because many of the parents are first gen immigrants from places like Europe, Korea, India, China and may be looking to stay in their comfort zones. In any case, this is a wasted opportunity for the society at large. 5. Front office is largely curt and condescending. Overall: Cherry Chase elementary has been a pretty decent school for us this far.
Teachers are open to increasing or decreasing Home work based on student needs. If the student has extra-curricular activities on a certain day, you can work with the teacher and ask for a different submission deadline. Also if it is too much, the teachers suggest what aspect of HW to focus on and what to cut.
This school has grown tremendously over last several years. Classroom size is growing (used to be 20 students/teacher). Unfortunately, there is such high turnaround not only with students, which is fine, but with teachers and the principal! Although this school got high API score with a 10 rating, there are some bad teachers. Can be a nightmare if your child gets one of them.
PTA works really hard. Children are competitive. However, It is hard to get help from teachers, either "no time" or no respond to e-mails. My questions may be around once every two months. It is not too much disturbing to the class teacher. I wish the principal could ask the feedback to each family about class teacher. I guess it is free public education. We only can be grateful for any treatment that we receive and cannot ask for more than that. I really do not know whether parents deserve getting attention from teachers or we are using extra time from teacher, which is not allowed.
This school is growing like crazy. A few years back, there were a little over 500 students and now there are close to 850. With so many students, and limited space and supervision, the quieter kids were getting lost. Now, they started a great program run called the Fun Zone during the 10 minute recess. It's a classroom opened up for students to come hang out and do arts, games, origami and so much more. We hope to see similar initiatives sprout up in the future! There are many wonderful capable parents who are 100% committed and very involved at the school. It's a place you can come to join the community or start building your own. But you do need to invest your time to be part of the community. We have a new principal this year and she is warm and inviting. My hope is that she will be able to bring a warm and trusting environment to the students, parents and the teachers. Academics are generally good but quality of teachers can vary. There is a large disparity of homework load among teachers even within the same grade. Some teachers don't even check homework themselves or keep a keen eye on student correction so they don't have a clue when students are struggling.
Love, love, love this school. Third grade is an awesome team of teachers. Challenging curriculum, high expectations and wonderful support. Great community school. I have always had great communication from my child's teachers.