It's a bit of a generalization for the reviewer below to paint all negative reviews as linked to a new charter school opening up. With all due respect, you are very new to the community and haven't witnessed most of the growing pains. Even last year there was inner strife. Feel free to look at the messages on UpToUs from last year as proof. We were bombarded with arguments through mass emails each day. There is a reason why discrection on UpToUs was stressed at the beginning of this school year. This is our 4th year at Fairwood and used to be like you and wonder why families in the upper grades were unhappy because we didn't see it. K-1 is Fairwood's strongpoint. For grades 2-3, only one teacher is worth having. The other two are very unorganized and lack structure and communication. There is a grade 2 class that has many complaints from fellow parents I know for several reasons. We have gone this far, and haven't reached the threshold for leaping yet. Private school is not an option and new charter school isn't viable for us yet due to unknown stability. We hope there is an improvement in 4th grade teachers next year.
It is interesting that when I looked at the reviews for Fairwood Explorer over a year ago, they were overwhelmingly positive. However, now that a new charter school is starting and is in the process of recruiting students, there are now more negative reviews of this school. I try to stay out of politics, so only have my own experience to report. Our child started kindergarten last year and absolutely loves it. The principal, Sarah Tellez, is always available to parents. Mrs.Thomas and Mrs. Jacobson are fantastic teachers. Our child has learned so much at this school going from a beginner reader to 1st grade level in only a few months. More importantly, our child loves learning. Along with traditional curriculum, the school offers exploration time to discover art, science, math and cooking in very creative project-based activities. Our class also goes on field trips once a month. One thing I really like about this school is the sense of community with the other friendly, involved parents in our class. We even arrange social events outside of school. I have not experienced any of the chaos that the other reviewer wrote about. I highly recommended this school to all of my friends.
My daughter is in second grade in the Fairwood Explorer program and has been there since kindergarten. When my daughter was ready for kindergarten we looked around at our home public school and some of the private schools for a program that we felt would fit our daughter's learning styles and our desires for her to have a wide range of experiences while being in a smaller school environment. We found the Explorer program and are excited to be directly involved in her learning and belonging to a community that is looking for a similar experience and willing to put the time in to make it happen. The parent participation has been the key for me. Beyond allowing more individualized attention than a standard classroom it has allowed me to know my daughter, her classmates and her teachers better. My daughter has grown over the years both as a student and a person. I have also enjoyed seeing the students I work with grow as well. I do reading coaching this year and have been impressed with the kids' progress. I am excited for my son to start next year and to see, and help, the program grow as it becomes a campus-wide program.
Been here since the start and see truths to many comments below. Yes-growing pains. Yes-hard working teachers and involved parents. Yes-adjusted vision. Yes-email sent requesting proper ways to voice parent complaints. Yes-heard both support and complaints from parents. Yes-principal allows for major variations of how teachers interpret program's mission. I've worked in classes where kids obviously put in wrong groups (slow readers with more advanced and vice versa). I've been in classes where I've helped to supplement curriculum and utilized every minute, while for another teacher many classes were unorganized and most parents sent home regularly even at the beginning of shift. Several worksheets for HW in one class, optional for another. Glad to see positive discipline classes for kids, but have seen yard duty and teachers being harsh on children without having them work things out. I saw a girl get pushed by another child. She turned around very upset, and teacher blamed her. When I stepped in and explained what I saw, the teacher just walked away. Pros and Cons. Program still in infancy. Wondering if it will mature by the time my child leaves.
This school is in chaos!!! I've read all the reviews and anyone considering this program should take into account, that there are two sides to this story. Those that love the school, the principal and the new philosophy and those that feel the original vision of the program was not implemented as they were told it would. I'm currently still at the school, but completely unhappy with the leadership and implementation of the vision. One comment below talks about how all the parents are energized, which is pretty funny given that we recently received an e-mail from our prinicipal to ask us to stop talking on the playground about how bad the teachers are and how we dislike the program. Of course, that isn't wise to talk where children can hear, but from the e-mail, we can all see that it isn't a positive school environment where most people are happy. I'm so tired of all the drama. I'm excited to hear that the original parents who started the Explorer program (since all leaving the board of directors by choice on the same day last year) are creating a charter school (Spark Charter School). Perhaps the original vision will now be realized in another school.
FAIRWOOD ELEMENTARY IS A GREAT SCHOOL. IT'S SMALL IN COMPARISON TO OTHER SUNNYVALE SCHOOLS AND TEACHER FRIENDLY, PARENT FRIENDLY ALL IN ALL A GREAT SCHOOL TO ATTEND. AND THE PRINCIPAL IS RIGHT ON THE BALL!
Just to clarify a few incorrect points from below...3 of the 4 founding parents of the Explorer program still attend school here, and one is the president of the Explorer Board. Some parents are trying to start a charter school, and no one has tried to block it. There was a public meeting for input, and the district approved the charter. We have so many enthusiastic, highly involved parents here. This is a strong, thriving and excellent program; it's expanding next year to enroll only Explorer students into Kinder, which shows the district's support of this program. Our classrooms are actively doing hands-on activities, parent-led activities, garden lessons, cultural presentations, classes go on many field trips (about once a month), and after-school activities include Destination Imagination, Girl Scouts, basketball, chess, etc. After school, I see parents socializing, kids playing on the new playgrounds or in their activities. Lunch-time activities are happening, and Family Math Night, Science Day and other events are coming up this school year. This has been a grass roots effort and will continue to thrive and improve each year, with parents' loyalty and engagement.Thanks!
My son just started at this school this year. As a parent I am quite happy with the explorer program. He has already had several field trips, parent-student projects, lessons about dealing with and preventing bullying, he participates in afterschool activities, and benifits from the increased attention afforded by having parents support the teacher's classroom activities. There appears to be some changes this year from previous years in how the parent volunteering is organized , but I would just call that working out the kinks of a relatively new program.
I am simply heartbroken. We started at this school three years ago and it was phenomenal to watch all of the parents come together to create this program from scratch. Talk about a Start-Up! Now I don't know what's happening to the school I love. The district seems to not support this type of program as it creates inequality (it is a parent-participation program so Explorer classrooms have parents in the classroom whereas neighborhood classrooms typically do not). Due to District non-support, the founding parents have left to start a charter school in Sunnyvale. Since then, there's been no lunch time activities, no Family Math Night, no NASA/stargazing night, few after-school activities, no Passport program--it has all disappeared into thin air!! I sympathize with the district's concern about potential inequality, but all the students were benefitting from these activities, so how is this better for them???
The Fairwood Explorer program does not offer what it claims to. I started my child there because I was told at an orientation meeting by principal Sarah Tellez that Fairwood Explorer offers a whole child, project-based education. Rather, Fairwood Explorer teaches the same material in the same way as the Sunnyvale district school we came from, just with more parents participating in the classroom. I was hoping that the New Common Core Standards would foster critical thinking, help the children make connections, and add more project based learning. So far, I am seeing huge piles of completed worksheets come home from school and we are asked to do projects at home, which I thought would happen at school (these projects are time consuming, so parents do most of the work, so where is the learning). Explorer is nice enough, but it is not a whole child, project based education program. Some people say it's a growing pain and Explorer will get there, but honestly, shouldn't the program have delivered it promises after I believe 4 years of existence?
The Explorer Program did not work for my family. I regret the time spent in this program. My child was bullied and treated unfairly by the teacher. We are now at a different school and my child is in a class with a wonderful teacher. My child is very very happy. I was "shocked" to learn that the teachers, some parents and the principal were trying to block a new charter school in Sunnyvale that encompasses the "whole child" concept. Learning is about the children. Children do well in different types of schools. If you are happy with this school..great. Let others make their own choices. There is "always" room for more schools "for our children".
It is interesting to see the principal and the teachers so united in fighting the opening of a charter school which reflects the founding principles of Fairwood Explorer Program. There is retaliation against the kids and parents who support the charter school despite what the teacher and the principal might say. There is proof about this. Just ask around.
My child has been at Fairwood for 3 years and we have been happy. My child has had great teachers, good friends and a wonderful group of parents that are involved and dedicated in their kid's learning. I really like the diversity of the program, my child's class was a rainbow of kids last year. I do not think it is as hands on as PACT or Discovery, but it is still a new program ( & not a charter school), PACT has been around a long time, this is Fairwood's 4th year and it grew a lot faster than I think a lot of the parents thought it would and some parents have had a more difficult time than others see the program evolve differently than they envisioned. I think there will still be a lot of growing pains in the coming years. The Explorer Community is constantly working on improving and enriching each child's learning experience; it is a work in progress. It takes a village to raise and educate a child and we are happy that Fairwood has become our village! In reference to the 1 star post below, for the few parents/kids that have moved on from the program most parents/kids have stayed and we are still hard working parents that will help bring great programs to the school!
From reading all the comments posted here, anyone can see we have conflict in our school. Some are very supportive and many are completely negative. The Explorer program is nothing but a school with parents volunteering in the class. Nothing special. The initial vision was that it would be modeled after Discovery-type schools. It is NOTHNG like that. The principal nor the district supports that philosophy. The funny thing is that the comments from parents that think it is wonderful --think they are getting a Discovery type program, but they just don't know what that means. They think volunteering in the classroom makes it a progressive program. It doesn't. It is very sad here now. All the hard working parents who developed such great things, like the passport program are now gone. Many families have transferred back to their home schools, private schools, Discovery, and other places. We are now left with families who think what we have is good enough.
This my sons 4th year in the program and have a daughter entering Kindergarten this year. My son had the same teacher for grades K and 1 and will be continuing with the same teacher from 2 to 3. These two teachers have risen to the task of helping my son excel in all aspects of learning, challenging when he needed challenge and comfort when he needed reassuring. The parents have brought after school programs to the school as well as in school programs working with the teachers. The principal has this program on the right track, working well with the community, the teachers, the PTG and the Explorer board. It's an exciting program and growing quickly. Please stop by and visit and see the excitement this program is providing. Kevin Smith
Such a shame that Sunnyvale School District didn't put their money where their mouth was with respect to this program. Now it seems to be falling apart. Many of the most involved families have left. It could have been on par with schools such as Discovery Charter and PACT, but without district support it's unraveling.
We came to this school, specificially for the Explorer program. The principal told us it was modeled after the Discovery and PACT charter schools in the area. We have been very disappointed. It is just like any other school. Parents can volunteer, just like the rest of the district, but offers nothing like the project-based learning that Discovery and PACT offer. The principal has been wanting integration amongst the entire school for the past year and instead of having two programs within one school, have just one school where the Explorer parents volunteer for everyone and pay for the whole school. It is true that parents are not forced to work in non-explorer classrooms, but instead they are bringing the non-explorer children to the explorer classrooms. So, there really isn't a difference.
My son has been in the Explorer program for 2 years and we love it. He has had wonderful teachers who challenge him in his areas of strength and give him the support he needs in the areas he finds challenging. He loves his teachers, his friends and all the wonderful activities that the Explorer program provides. It's true that parents have the opportunity to help out in the neighborhood program if they choose, but nobody is forced to, and I have never been made to feel bad due to my choice to only work in the Explorer program. I would encourage anyone who wants their child to enjoy learning to come visit the Explorer program.
This school was billed as two programs within one school campus when we started. Neighborhood program (regular school) and Explorer program (parent-participation w/specialized hands-on curriculum). It was starting to be like that the first year, but no longer is and I anticipate it being nonexistent next year. The location of the school is in a poor neighborhood, there is lack of resouces. The neighborhood children are mainly ESL learners. So, the parents of the children that came to learn in the Explorer program (diverse population) are now being asked to work with all the children in the school to bring the ones below grade level up, instead of working strictly within the program, which we were told we would be doing prior to enrolling. Explorer parents are asked to contribute for classroom costs and field trip costs for the entire school, and the children from the neightborhood program are not asked at all. It seems like a charity school.The tension on campus between the principal, teachers, and parents is awful. The leadership to mediate this is nonexistent. Although they have some very good teachers (really, all but one is very good), I would not recommend this school.
My son has been in the Fairwood Explorer program for 2 years and we are very happy with it. The teachers are really dedicated and with the parent participation in the classroom they can spend more time with small groups of students. Ms. Tellez the principal is really fantastic. She is very committed to the whole school and so helpful and responsive to parent quesitons.
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