Academically, this school thrives and it prepares students very well for high school. It is also strong in after-school athletics. However; I feel it lacks a balanced approach to developing the whole child. Too much emphasis is given to testing, grammar over literature, and busy-work homework, resulting in unnecessary stress to students who are not getting enough time in outdoor physical activity during the school day. Additionally, respect and kindness needs to be modeled by ALL adults. In middle school, my child was hesitant to ask questions in a class because of the condescending way in which the teacher would answer students' questions. Also, some of the teachers were inflexible when it came to offering accommodations for children with learning differences. My children's early primary years at ACS were wonderful; teachers seemed happy (there was a different admin then), but things changed in the later years. ACS middle school needs more electives (home economics, drama, and health.), recess, and more opportunities for students to develop collaboration and critical thinking skills.
The teachers/academics/families are phenomenal. Unfortunately, the school is not well-governed. The Dean is confrontational and condescending. The governing board does not represent the students or parents but consistently side with and defend the Dean. The tipping point was the PARCC/CMAS testing where children were penalized for opting out by being marked as unexcused and ineligible to participate in sports. This school was one of only 2, out of 80 in DCSD, to do this despite the voice of parents/communicty/district and state support. Also, there are financial transparency issues where two entities (Castle Rock LifeLong Learning Center and The ACS Foundation) receive substantial amounts of grand funds but they are unaudited (see financials published on school website). There are 4 business entities associated with the school and 4 separate sets of financials turned into the disctrict, but the financials listed on the school website are a separate set. The funds are not invested into the students as is apparent with the outdated technology and lack of interactive equipment. The science teacher had to do a fundraiser just to buy 2 $200 microscopes.
My oldest son has been at ACS K-8. This school reflects a community atmosphere, where each student is part of the school, not just part of a classroom. Various staff members personally greet and say good bye to students before and after the school day. Teachers are experienced and attentive to student needs. Students are offered Spanish, advanced math options, an excellent science program, as well as an exceptional well rounded education. Middle school (6-8) offers the option of participating in a variety of after school sports and increased rigor in core disciplines as well as "specials" such as music, computers, and art. It is a safe environment for kids to spread their wings! My older son is now looking forward to starting the IB program next year at DCHS. My younger son is having the same positive experience at ACS. Over the last eight years I have worked with the Dean through roles on the school's SAC, PTO, etc. She has remained open-minded, professional and accommodating. Though we have passionately disagreed on more than one occasion, my kids, my husband, nor myself, have ever been subjected to vindictiveness.
My, my! Look at the campaign somebody went on last spring to get a slew of people to put up 5-star reviews. The dean has issues. She is unfair, vindictive, and behaves in underhanded and inflammatory ways to seemingly innocent issues. Last spring: Upset parents and mass exodus from the school=low approval ratings. No wonder she needed to get some 5-star reviews up in a hurry. Control and power direct her behavior and communications above all else. I have seen her make ridiculous, baseless claims to discredit parents who have contributed lots of service hours to this school so she could win her point. I have watched this dean vindictively sneak behind the school board's back in order to undermine students' academic success. The school would benefit greatly if she learned to be fair and get over herself. She knows how to keep the board in her pocket with her well-practiced, two-faced behavior (they can vote her out). The school also struggles to practice the Love and Logic techniques they purport to follow. The teachers (they have been wonderful here) have it figured out in the microcosm of their classrooms, but the aides have made poor choices at a grade/school-wide level.
ACS is a good tight nit community, they are always looking out for one another. I went to the school from K-8th grade. Did i want to go to another school at the time? of course i did. i mean what 5-8th grade kid wants to wear uniforms...? but I'm glad i didn't, personally i think i got the better education then looking at some friends who did not attend a charter school. My class alone has had a girl go onto Stanford University, someone else went to Westmont a private college. Every school is going to have their fair share of rotten apples, teaches who just have no spark left in them and they are only in it for a pay check, to say this school doesn't have a few of those would be untrue. that doesn't mean that the school is awful or unfit for ones child/children. Majority of the teaching staff loves what they do and are happy doing it. Bullying has been an issue in the past but the school is making great strides to eliminate the problem.
All of my students middle school teachers word hard and are active outside of just the classroom, they are truly invested in making sure that every student has a place in the school community Yes, the students come home with homework and yes, they are held to high expectations. Each teacher has been easy to communicate with and provides my student with engaging and high quality learning. Two of my students have gone through ACS and are now in high school, one is in 7th grade; all have had great educational experiences. As a parent I am thankful to have a community that is so close and one in which I can actively be a part of regularly. We love our school and love our teachers!
I have a child at ACS. She has enjoyed the curriculum, teachers and friends. When my older child transferred to high school. She was beyond prepared for the rigors of high schools. Supportive teachers, administration have an open door policy, ready to support.
As a parent at ACS I completely disagree with the parents that complain out the administration and bullying at this school. The unfortunate truth is that we have parents that only hear one side of a conflict, their own child's. Bullying is an over used term and this school provides more anti bully programs than any other school in the district. They use Challenge a Day, Rachel's Change, Core Virtues, Love and Logic, Second Step and many other programs to promote a positive environment. The administration is wonderful and in my dealings with them they are fair. It stinks when your kid makes a mistake and finds themselves in trouble but I'm thankful to have someone that will hold them accountable. Unfortunate we live in a society of helicopter parents that rescue their children at every turn, I approximate a school that doesn't allow that behavior. This is a great school and I would recommend it to anyone!
ACS is a great school! The staff works hard to ensure that every student achieves success and feels loved, safe and appreciated. The Deans are amazing and as a staff member I feel supported by the administration. I would recommend this school as a great place to work and send your kids.