This is a safe place to share your honest opinions of a school, whether good or bad.
Fairwood Elementary School2
Posted March 21, 2014
- a parent
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?