The new admissions director and head of school at ISD haven't a clue how to retain students at the school, and have completely decimated all the good foundational work done by their predecessors. The school has always required families to sign admissions contracts by early Feb but before this year, admissions would work with families to best determine placement even if it wasn't at ISD with no financial penalty. This year, ISD has kept $3,000 tuition deposits from families if their plans changed (in March!) and ISD holds families responsible for full tuition after the March 31st deadline. This is a highly punitive policy, unique to all other Denver private schools. No courtesy deadline, no reasonability, no empathy to current families. The result? Families have not signed contracts leaving the school grappling with retention issues. To make matters worse, the admissions director and head of school do not renew top students who are in good standing with top grades and with no behavior issues for the next school year because admin doesn't approve of / like their parents. The school does not have enough qualified language students in Denver to fill their openings in upper elementary grades yet they deny school continuity for innocent, hardworking children already in their program? Disgraceful. The mass exodus of excellent language teachers, loyal families, and experienced staff signal the lack of faith in the new (non-bilingual) head of school who is destroying ISD's tight knit community with her authoritarian style. This admin team is mean-spirited, heavy-handed, and closed-minded. And this is exactly what the board wants: a head of school to push out contrary views so they can create a Graland knockoff with a plain vanilla experience hidden under a shiny exterior. How predictable and dull. The "change" most ISD families wanted was a solid English and math curriculum, accredited English teachers, a directed student behavior policy and reasonable admin. This "change" hasn't been delivered. Also, every survey sent out has been swept under the rug with results never shared with parents. Even the Terra Nova scores were scrubbed with high and low scores removed from data. To the person who has been at ISD for 3 weeks in their summer CAMP, a warning: Keep your (future, valid, constructive) issues to yourself or you will be shoved out the door.
I just saw some of the scathing reviews on this website and had to respond as a parent who truly loves this school. The school went through a lot of change in the past year and is truly not a small school anymore. Change is hard for people, but I personally see these changes as positive and necessary. I also think more change is necessary to be a truly great school - the idea of constant improvement is a good one. I personally have never had an issue getting a meeting with the head of school and also attended several open focus group meetings with her - along with many other parents - and did complete at least 2 surveys from the school providing feedback, one during the year and one over the summer. I suggest that anyone truly interested in the school come and see it for themselves and talk with parents like me who are still here and love it.
After many years at ISD beginning in Pre-K, like many others we were finally forced to leave after last year. This was largely due to the dramatic lack of focus on retaining faculty and staff, as well as families under new and inexperienced staff in leadership positions. There have been so many changes this year in Carole's first year here as Head of School, it has been tough to get our bearings. One of the major changes she and the board made was to increase the academic school year by two weeks! This not only impacted tuition, but also summer vacations that were already planned out. The reason was based on more "successful" schools being in school longer- yet without the Board or Head of School finding anyway to measure that. (I doubt they have stepped foot in the classrooms!) She does not allow more than one person to confront her about issues, as a previous reviewer noted.
In an effort to provide transparency, most private schools provide surveys (as we have done EVERY year that I have been a parent here) and an annual report to it s constituents, and even posts e-mails the results of those surveys to families. Under the new leadership of Carole Denny, and in conjunction with a very political Board, ISD has failed to do this, not providing a school wide survey for this past school year and as of this posting, publishing no annual report for last year. We personally know many other old ISD families who are switching to other schools this year after their frustrations went unaddressed by leadership at ISD as the school appears to be switching its focus towards growing the infrastructure and signage, than maintaining a close-knit community where teachers and parents were happy!
The amount of turnover that occurred amongst faculty and staff this past school year was ASTOUNDING and very telling of the state of ISD. So sad to see what was once such a great school in such a tailspin right now. It went from a democracy, where every voice was heard, to a complete and total dictatorship! People no longer feel valued here- families and teachers alike and it is really tough to want to stay when the administration and board don't care if you stay or leave. We are SO sad to leave what was once an amazing school that felt like a second family to us.
FYI: The over-the-top comments written about Carole on Nov 16th had to have been written by a board member!!
Stopped by this site last week out of genuine curiosity and was surprised and saddened to see the harsh cautionary tales. We've enrolled our 3 year old for school this fall, and took the plunge for summer camp this year. Three weeks in, we're thrilled with our choice. We learned about the school from an open house night last year, and then spoke with multiple families who are in love with the place -- over many years -- and recommended we take a closer look. We're chalking the reviews up to typical 'watch what you read on the internet'. Like so many sites, people take time to vent, not to praise. That motivates me to pause and write this now -- in just three weeks, our child has been so much happier when we pick him up, so much more engaged, and proud of projects and outings he's had. He's clearly learned a ton (more than the past year in pre-school) and chats away at dinner about his day. That's new for us! We can't wait for the fall to start, and to watch our child grow that much more.
There are big problems ahead for ISD due to big bets placed by the current self-serving board who foolishly invests in new buildings and school signage rather than investing in the underlying academic programming and better teacher salaries that would lead to improved student outcomes. If the board worked instead to improve the English program, they would then solve their problem of low retention rates from K-5 into their middle school. Currently, numbers are down and they cannot get lift-off in their middle school because parents lack confidence in the school's ability to get their K-5th graders to grade level in English. Of course, learning a target language is the big draw for the school but parents do not want their children lagging behind their American peers. The school constantly posts information about bilingual benefits, and that students "catch up" in English in later grades, but that is not enough for most parents at the school. The administration is completely unresponsive to such academic issues in the early grades, and the head of school instead has focused on writing mission statements and cosmetic school changes rather than on creating a cohesive English curricula for K-5 students. Additionally, the administration refuses to provide math supplement in the English program to bridge any gaps between language programs, and as a result, there appears to be differences in math performance between programs. Moreover, the writing program in English is weak -- there are very few writing assignments given in early grades, and there are no teacher edits or grading of student written work. In fact, nothing has come home from class to show written work done by students. The students who are excelling in English and math go to Kumon or Mathnasium and / or have parents who work with them in these subjects at home. The language teachers' herculean efforts are undercut by the board's lack of focus on improving the one thing that matters long-term, a great American education with experienced teachers to complement the amazing immersion experience.
This used to be a "great school" but unfortunately now has become simply awful. The early grades are still reasonably okay because the teachers are good. BUT starting from 4th grade on, there is a general disarray with multiple teachers who despite small class sizes have no idea how individual students are doing, unresponsive administration, dysfunctional and highly political board. I can't wait till this year is over and our kids go to a proper school. Unfortunately I believe that other than in language, they will be very unprepared for entry into the American school system especially in science and math and even basic social skills.