Westminster is a wonderful elementary school, and we could not have been happier with our choice. Our daughter loves her school, and her teacher (Ms. Abrams). Our family feels safe, and heard by the amazing principal Barry Cohen, AP Karen Reynolds, and energetic staff. Great location. Beautiful WE garden. Fun and educational enrichment classes. This is a great Venice community school, that I am so exited to be a part of!
A big THANK YOU to Principal Barry Cohen for the incredible work he is doing, and his dedication to the school, his staff, students, and their parents. You are making a huge impact in our community, and we are grateful for it all. Thank you!
Our son's kindergarten teacher Ms. Abrams is amazing! She fosters a spirit of community in the classroom that helps children feel safe and comfortable to express their ideas and forge new friendships. She is excellent about communicating with the parents to let us know what they are working on each week and how we can build on those lessons at home. She also welcomes one-on-one discussions with parents to help with our child's individual progress. Our son also benefits from participating three times a week in art, P.E., and technology sessions with groups of students from the two other kindergarten classes led by Ms. Clark and Ms. Munoz who are just as caring and dedicated as Ms. Abrams. We couldn't be happier that we chose Westminster, our neighborhood school, and look forward to all the wonderful academic and enrichment opportunities that our son will have over the course of his elementary school years here, thanks to the energetic administration and staff and involved parent community.
The Principal, Vice Principal, and teachers all give 100% everyday and it shows on their faces and the kids' faces. The school facilities are bright and extremely clean and well-maintained, and there are plans for improving and adding more green space throughout the campus. There are a variety of enrichment programs sprinkled throughout the week to enhance students' learning, including music theory, vocal music, gardening, and dance in addition to visits to the Mac and PC computer lab for additional math and language arts lessons that build on what the children learn in the classroom. My son also has art, PE, social studies, health, science, and history and gets to interact with teachers and students from other kindergarten classes in mixed groups. We could not have found a better school for our son!
We started our search for schools 2 years prior to my daughter starting Kindergarten. We toured schools in the Palisades, Santa Monica, Venice, Culver City and Manhattan Beach.
We talked to teachers and parents in all neighborhoods. In 2013 we initially loved the Westminster campus, but we were turned off by the prior reputation of the school. In 2015 we enrolled and we were accepted to PS1 a private school in Santa Monica. We paid our hefty deposit and that was that....Until, we read a posting by Principle Barry Cohen on Venice Moms. After reading, I knew I needed to do one last tour and go meet this man in person. What I found was that I still loved the campus and a principle so dedicated and caring about the children at his school with a Vice Principle that was just as kind and helpful. I could not believe the wonderful enrichment classes that were offered DURING the school day and the two gardens that the children have classes in every other week. I was impressed by the local parents who are just as involved and willing to give a hand. We live in Venice for a reason and the fact that we almost sold our house and moved to the palisades for the schools enrages me now. Westminster is an amazing school. We walk to school and our kids are benefiting tremendously by knowing our neighbors and running into each other as we grocery shop, have dinner or bike on the beach. I could not have asked for a more diverse community for my daughter. We are grateful that we gave it a shot. It's awesome.
We knew this school has had some problems in the past but decided to give it at try, had such a good impression after touring. After a few months, we are absolutely thrilled. The teachers are amazing, the new principal is a super hero, the staff is charming. Couldn't be happier!
The teachers at Westminster are tremendous. Ms. Abrams, my daughter's kindergarten teacher, is among the best of the best. She is passionate, bright, aware and differentiates her teaching style and instruction to cater to the unique needs of her students. She communicates and collaborates with parents, which creates a rich and supportive learning environment. Children blossom under her guidance.
I must also mention that Barry Cohen, the principal is simply one of a kind. He, along with AP Karen Reynolds are the heart and soul of our tremendous little school. They set the tone for a happy, safe, and exciting place to learn.
Westminster is above & beyond what we had hoped for. It is a relatively small school, with 350 students. The campus is spacious, immaculate, bright and cheery - dotted w/beautiful green spaces, gardens and mature trees. The principal, Barry Cohen, and AP, Karen Reynolds, are completely accessible and transparent. If there is an issue, their doors are open. Concerns are addressed proactively. They care deeply about every child and every family and this sets the tone within the school community. The parents in our class are awesome: like-minded, down to earth - they totally "get it." Several opted out of SM schools, forfeited their private school deposits, gave up spots at Mar Vista and CdA because we all could see something special happening at Westminster. The educators are passionate, progressive and collaborative. The kindergarten teachers are all exceptional. The enrichments are off the charts. All students grades TK-5 have dance, theater, vocal choir, music theory, instrumental music, fine arts, library, technology, yoga, mosaic and gardening. There is a book buddy literacy program where a 5th grader is paired with a Kinder student to read together each week in the library. This builds a strong tie between the upper and lower grades that further fosters a sense of community, respect and responsibility. My daughter participates in an after school Engineering STEM class which offers paying and sponsored spots so everyone in the school community has a chance to participate. It is a very diverse school that reflects our neighborhood and my daughter has quickly built strong friendships with kids of all backgrounds.
Although we have given generously, we have not been asked for one dime. Fortunately, from parking and facility rental revenue the school can pay for the extras without relying exclusively on the parents to foot the bill. As a Title 1 school, it receives additional financial support.
To think that I had initially disregarded Westminster as a viable option because of a reputation that wasn't rooted in truth is shameful! I assumed that all the chatter must be true and I almost missed out on the gem down the street.
Our daughter happily skips to school each day, is thriving socially and academically which says far more than chatter and test scores. I strongly encourage parents in the neighborhood to see for themselves.
I've experienced dealing with my kid on bad behavior days, medical emergency days, large event days, first days of school when things weren't perfectly organized, and several months of routine studies when things run just fine. I always felt that any concerns I might have would be addressed by the school if I thought they were worth bringing up. I can't express how happy I am that we found this school and were able to get in. Compared to all other schools we looked at, this one looked like a winner and I'm only more sure of it now.
This school has good Kindergarten teachers!
Kindergarten teacher Ms. Abrams just joined this school in August 2015! She is doing wonderful job with the mix of TK and K kids in her class. She teaches with kindness and patience, yet she is clearly in charge of her classrooms. All kids love her. At the start of each week, she communicates to all the parents what to expect from the week, what the kids will be learning and what parents can do at home to build and strengthen the knowledge. Ms. Abrams has a positive attitude. I've seen her deal with frustrating situations with patience, with focus on what's going on inside the child. Her diligent attention to unique development nuances of the kid, willingness to work out ideas with parents and check in with them daily about progress -- they saved us parents so much stress we expected when our kid went to a real school for the first time!
Maybe not all schools have teachers this good, so I wanted to share this with any prospective parents -- do consider going to this school.
I know less of other Kindergarten teachers, only that my kid likes the other two teachers too. Kids get exposed to all teachers and all other Kindergarten kids through a rotation program where each teacher does a couple hours of focused studies, and kids from all three classes are grouped across class boundaries and attend all three studies.
Actually, staff of the school are universally kind, including the aftercare program. My biggest impression my first when I came for a tour was from how happy and calm all kids were. Three months later, I'm more excited about this schools. Seeing how responsive school staff are to ideas and how quickly improvements happened, I'm stoked for my kids to spend the next 6-7 years here.