When we decided to send our child to the Colorado Springs School I never thought I'd use words like bullying, arrogance, elitism, and racism in the same sentence with the school name. Sadly, that was our experience. We had high hopes for our child's future at CSS, but many of the claims and promises the school made during the admissions process were not met. We were very excited about the experiential learning model they use only to discover it translates into a disorganized, unstructured, undisciplined, and unaccountable learning environment. When choosing a school, we have learned there are more important things to consider than a pretty campus.
I am an Alumni from 2002, and am more than pleased to see that my old teacher and adviser Aaron Schubach is now the Head of School. I went to school at CSS under two separate heads, but it was teachers like Aaron Schubach that helped create fond and powerful memories of the school.
I can say for a fact that he was one of the teachers that changed my life for the better. He helped me take responsibility for my actions when I was quite young, which has sent echos throughout the rest of my life. Kudos to the Board of Trustees for hiring someone who will surely carry with him a true love of the CSS mission, a belief that K-12 is not a time to simply get children from cradle to college, but to build them as individuals with solid foundations.
I would not recommend CSS. My daughter attended CSS from kindergarten till March 2015 (4th grade). I am not a strong advocate of transferring a child during the school year. Unfortunately, my daughter was coming home from school on a regular basis in tears due to inappropriate behavior. The inappropriate language, the mean girl behavior etc. was not going away. On a daily basis, she kept waiting for the "proverbial shoe" to drop. It got old and was severely impacting her physically, emotionally and intellectually. She had not wanted to return to CSS for either 3rd or 4th grade. Looking back, I should have listened and transferred her earlier. As a family we did our best to resolve the issues- going so far as meeting with the teacher, school administration and school counselor. We as a family were very involved in the school and did our best to support it. Full paying tuition, annual campaign donor, supported the school fund raisers and events, helped with promoting admission drives, Girl Scouts (one year as assistant troop leader). In the end, we voted with our feet and transferred to St. Paul's Catholic School. She now feels safe and secure. Academically, we find it more rigorous and accountable. Guess what? Two of her friends from CSS had transferred to the 4th grade as well (one the end of 3rd grade and one in November of 4th grade). One of her friends transferred out in first grade for similar reasons.
Once again CSS has instilled in the faculty a distrust in the administration. We had hoped this would go away with a new administration. Perhaps the culprit is not the administration, but a country club mindset board of directors. Heaven help any teacher who is not perceived to be from the same ersatz cloth as the board. And heaven help any faculty member who has to be honest with another CSS faculty member about the misdeeds of his or her child. Oops, did I use honesty and CSS in the same sentence?
My kids will have attended CSS through 3 Heads of School, 4 if you count the interim. We have been supportive parents, and paid tuition with little assistance. There are certainly many families with much greater means. I have always kept in the back of my mind that the "tail wags the dog" when decisions are made at CSS. Unfortunately the line between board and faculty has been blurred to the point that the tail of the dog has become more than just those who write the checks. The faculty members I am close with feel the same way. If not for the attachments my kids have with peers and with teachers, we would move on.
CSS is an excellent school that has helped our son develop on multiple levels. The opportunities are unparalleled and the academics are very strong. Of course such a focus on achievement comes with a lot of sacrifice - kids have to work hard, parents have to become heavily involved, there is a financial sacrifice too ... but for the right child and the right family the reward is an excellent education and opportunity to do pretty much anything they want in life. There are many good educational options in the Pikes Peak area and most don't require the same level of commitment as CSS so this school isn't for everyone but if you're prepared to dream big and make the necessary sacrifices this school is worth it.
This is an amazing school. My kids are in their 11th year at CSS, and we feel so fortunate to have found this wonderful place. They have been challenged and engaged, and CSS has given them the love of learning. Experiential learning is a hallmark of the CSS education and my kids have travelled with their classes beginning in the first grade. As high school students, they have travelled and studied in Ireland, Costa Rica, Hawaii, Florida, and Peru. The school community is very close knit and parents can be involved at many levels. The faculty are outstanding. I would not send my kids to any other school.
My daughters have attended CSS for 11 years since preschool. They thrive here as independent thinkers taught by strong teacher mentors. We chose CSS because of the multitude of experiences they offer. My girls excel academically, are in theater productions twice a year, play a variety of sports, participate in before and after school clubs such as archery, play in the band, go on experiential learning trips such as photography seminars in New Mexico, take field trips to a lab at the local hospital, have in-class presentations by inventors, authors, artists, doctors, lawyers - people who can share real-world experiences with them. All of this is in preparation for yes, college but more so for life. I want my children to be leaders and have a thirst for knowledge. This is the path that my children are on at CSS.
My 3 children have attended CSS for 11 years. It has been our best choice for our family and every penny has been worth it. My children have flourished academically, as responsible individuals, in the arts and in their sports. Small class room sizes are excellent and the extra personal attention is valuable as the academics are rigorous. The campus is one of the most beautiful sights in Colorado Springs and has much history as it was previously an estate, settled in a well established and highly valued real estate neighborhood. At the younger grades, they receive excellent instruction and are exposed to many areas of learning with many learning experiences outside of the classroom and field trips around Colorado. At the higher levels, the academic preparation for college is excellent. One of the unsung values of this school is the college admissions counselor who works with every child to find the right college for them and assist in every detail in getting them to that college, with the added bonus of assisting in obtaining scholarship and grant money. Last year, he assisted the graduating class of of less than 30 in receiving over 2 million in scholarship money.
When we interviewed at CSS for kindergarten, I was so nervous. Being a middle class family, I felt that we weren't going to be "good enough" for the school. We were accepted and once my daughter started school, we felt like a part of the family and have never stopped feeling that way in the 8 years she has attended CSS. I could talk about all the great things about CSS classes and teachers, but many of the other parents have already done that for me! Instead, I want to encourage parents that think they may not be able to afford it, to look into CSS. Trust me, you find a way to make it work because these are the most important years of your children's lives. CSS is worth the money! The children learn to respect adults, and peers alike. My daughter explored different sports and finally found the one she liked. The arts/theatre department is amazing. With smaller classes, they get so much individual attention that you don't get with 35+ students in a class. If I knew then what I know now, I still wouldn't have done it any other way!