Ricks has been quite a disappointment. With one exception (a specials teacher no longer with the school) I have not seen evidence of excellence in teaching. Although Ricks faculty believe they are very unique and creative I have seen most of the units studied at the elementary level taught with more depth, breadth and accountability at other schools. My sense is that 7-10 years ago this was a great school but now they are just going through the motions. I am still often impressed when walking down the hall or reading the newsletters but my partner jokingly reminds me not to be taken in by the advertising and public relations experts. The parents who are happiest with Ricks have children attending Pre-K/K or have little inside knowledge of other schools.
We are parents of three thriving Ricks Center students. Our children possess three distinctly different learning styles and the Ricks Center's teachers and administration have accommodated and adapted their attention to each of our children individually. As parents we are always concerned about our children's successes and failures. Our school has helped develop their confidence, interests, and talents while addressing their weaknesses. This is our strongest point. We want our children to maintain their curiousity for all school subjects, even if they find one or two difficult or challenging. We are grateful to the teachers, especially the one negatively mentioned below. That teacher's expectations are strict and reasonable. My child knows what he/she needs to do regarding homework. The same review calls the school's director "aloof". We find the director to be passionate about gifted learning and very accessable when we need to talk.
We have two sons who have attended Ricks since EEC. We have extremely high expectations of our children's education and are involved, demanding and vocal. Almost without exception, we have found Ricks teachers AND adminstrators to be helpful and responsive to our inquiries, worries and frustrations. We have not always agreed with their answers, but we have found that they know our children well and view our children's education from a wholistic perspective. So while we may be demanding more scholarly rigor, they may be recommending that our children learn better teamwork skills or how to lighten up on themselves or be more organized. And, in the end, it will be the well-rounded gifted child who is happy and sucessful. With that said, our sons have been tested inside and outside Ricks and are scoring well beyond grade level, even in those "nuts and bolts" areas.
In response to the parent comments posted August 29, 2010: I am pleased with my children s all-star third/fourth grade Ricks teacher who commits her boundless energy, creativity and love for her students to provide what may be the most positive and supportive school experience that my children will ever have. She is the teacher who will be forever etched in their memories as the one who helped them become avid learners. She provides challenging work to each individual with clear goals and constructive feedback in a caring and nurturing manner. The homework load is manageable as long as the student is devoted and organized. The three strikes system reinforces student responsibility and accountability. Receiving three strikes does not result in some draconian disciplinary action-rather, the student does not get to participate in the homework reward party which is the appropriate recognition and incentive enjoyed by the vast majority.
I have three current Ricks students with a cumulative 20 years of Ricks education between them. I credit Ricks with developing my children with their individual interests, personalities and learning styles into engaged, passionate learners. Ricks greatest strengths are in the classroom where the children are challenged in a nurturing, inclusive, safe environment where their gifts, differences and quirks are largely insulated from the social distractions and risks that are more common in a main stream school. While I would not describe the administration as warm and fuzzy , I absolutely credit them with developing the curricula and enabling the excellent classroom environment in which my children are thriving. Over the years, my children have encountered their own occasional but inevitable educational or social challenges but I have always found the administration to be accessible, informed, responsive and supportive in helping us explore and resolve every issue fairly.
Ricks is difficult, as a parent. The head of the school is so aloof, she rarely acknowledges parents. The rest of the administration is spotty. In terms of teachers, it's a mixed bag-last year, my had a teacher who was nearly militant in homework, and would use a strict 'strike system' if anyone forgot the least bit. This year, it seems as though we have a decent teacher who is both jovial and engaging, while having decent control over these preteens. The curriculum is spotty. For between $15-17,000 there is no music past preschool. Their math is spotty, foreign languages seem to be a selling point rather than a learning time. The integrated curriculum is a great concept, but tough to execute. For as much money as the tuition is, there have to be better options out there which challenge brighter kids, without making them feel entitled.
As a Ricks alumni I'm completely disgruntled by the reviews I see below. Giftedness doesn't just mean you're smart, it's a special need, you view the world differently and if you're not somewhere where people understand you, you FEEL hopelessly different. I'm not going to pretend that Ricks was perfect. But I'll gladly sacrifice some of the complaints I see below for the unbelievably unique experience I got at Ricks. I'd much rather take the occasional missing "nuts and bolts" than have facts crammed down my throat for six hours a day. Ricks taught us how to think and live and grow. If you're having a problem with that, you're in the wrong school. And for those of you considering Ricks, take if from an alum who is now third in a class of 425 . In closing, I took music classes at Ricks through 8th grade.
I have read through the previous reviews and I find that most of them are rather abhorring. Ricks Center was a fantastic school for both me and my sister. To say anything less about the school is ignorant. The super critical parents that write their scathing reviews about Ricks seem to be lashing out at Ricks for the child's ineptitude. The learning environment was outstanding. The relationships developed with the staff and the administration allow for the student to feel safe. Parents are usually disconnected from their child's day-to-day school life due to the complexity of the school. Children are not taught facts or fed information. They are shown how much fun it is to learn, by the teachers who enjoy their profession. It truly is an amazing school. I went to a elite college preparatory boarding for high school, and after ricks, it was a breeze. A Simply Amazing School
I want to like this school. I have spent a lot of money with the hopes that this is the right school for my child. What I have found, over four years of my child attending, is an inconsistent model of education that is wrapped in a package of fun and adventure. My child loves it. It is a bit like going to camp everyday. Unfortunately, the nuts and bolts of education is often missing and the administration seems unconcerned and generally offended when parents raise concerns as to whether children's needs are being met in the areas of reading, writing and mathematics. Some teachers are great...but as a complete package, there are far too many holes. In addition, the continual drama that is prevalent in this school's environment is draining. This is our last year.
Like most schools, it has its positives and negatives. In general, the kids are relatively nice and interested in learning. Everyone is bright, with some bellcurve intelligent. As was mentioned, the teachers are hit and miss. Some read the kids' papers over and over, while others return them weeks later. If your kid is in the top three percent of IQ testing (the general goal) and is a bit quirky for public schools, it's a good choice. If your kid is bright, but relatively normal (whatever that is, but hopefully you get the idea), save your considerable money for college. The school likes to boast about how well it's former students are doing, but it's hard to go wrong when you start with exceptionally bright kids.
We have two children attending Rick s. I ve questioned whether Rick s was right for smart boys and their quirks. However, my oldest is flourishing. His experiential learning has been phenomenal. He would not do well only learning from a book. Rick s far exceeds this model through exceptional field trips and application of reading and math to interesting social and scientific topics in class. Also, the languages, technology, and music have been marvelous. My child is learning at a high school and college level! Our youngest s education has been outstanding, and we ve been pleased by the teachers. Regarding administration, they are responsible for the school s excellent curricula for gifted children. They ve struggled on the relational side with parents. It s clear they ve digested this feedback. They ve made changes, including being accepting of parental requests. They ve reached out to families and made meaningful connections. Kudos for being responsive to the need for change!
Our daughter has attended Ricks Center for 5 years. We're extremely happy with the education she is receiving. Even though she's only in 2nd grade, she comes home talking about Greek architecture or the different social classes aboard the Titanic. She read the entire Harry Potter series this year. In a recent newsletter, I read how one Ricks class had just returned from a fieldtrip to Yellowstone. Another group of Ricks kids had made a presentation to Jane Goodall. And a third group had learned all about starting a business from scratch, including writing a business plan, securing a loan, marketing and advertising, producing a product and doing the accounting. You don't find this kind of education in public school. But the best part of Ricks is that gifted children get to hang out with other gifted children, so they just take their abilities for granted and feel normal.
My daugther attends the Ricks Center and consistently flourishs. She stepped out of her shell and became a happy, excited and social student. She is challenged intellectually and was encouraged to meet the challenge that the teachers presented. Teachers are careful to balance the intellectual with the social/emotional needs that she has. We feel confident going to the classroom teachers and administration over any concerns. We were greated and known by name and always feel welcome in the school. The amount of information that the teachers and administrators know in terms of educaitonal best practice and gifted education is outstanding. We have had many teachers during our years at Ricks and although styles are very different, every teacher is amazing. The projects, culminations, and units that the children study are truly excellent. We are pleased and happy with every dollar and hour spent at Ricks and highly reccomend the school.
We left Ricks after two years and our second year nearly killed our child's love for school and learning. The quality of teachers ranges from wonderful to inept. The claim that the instruction is geared to gifted children is flat out wrong. Some teachers seem aware of current educational 'best practices' and others seem willing to just watch the children rather than teaching them. Parents worry that if they complain they will be told that their child isn't gifted enough for the school. The administration was never attentive to parent concerns. We didn't want perfection, we just wanted a place that put the needs of kids and their learning first. We found this wasn't the case at Ricks. It was a very strange place to send your child and a lot of your money.
I agree with the former post that all schools have their issues. My child attended Ricks for three years. We then enrolled him in a public DPS school. We still have some issues but we don't have the price tag attached. We have had very caring and competent teaches in public schools without the much unneeded drama. The administration in my son's current school has been kind and supportive - neither of which I could say about Ricks. The families certainly do not feel Stepford style to me, and my son, who is very bright, very vocal and sometimes quirky has been readily embraced and nurtured by teachers and the rest of his community. His academic needs are being met. This was often the scare tactic that was used at Ricks...that he would not be understood or 'fit in.' Not true...my son also loves to go to school...without the price
I attended the Ricks Center for 10 amazing years. I recently made the transition from Ricks to high school and found myself highly prepared. The ten years I spent at Ricks fostered a love of learning and a comitment to self-excellence. By the end of my time at Ricks, I knew every student 4 to 5 grades below me, every single teacher, and the families of students as well. I was pushed individually to excel in math, athletics, music, and art. The concept of a well rounded student/person it the center of the 'Ricks philosophy.' I made friends who I will know for the rest of my life, and Ricks built a base for all future learning that is so unique and indivualized i can't imagine another education. Ricks allowed me to skip over some freshman classes when i entered high school and allowed my high school career to flourish.
We are the Raabe's and have 2 daughters at Ricks' and, hopefully another child in a year or so. We can sum up our children's life at Ricks with one sentence. They are thriving! We looked at several schools before settling on Ricks. Just venturing a fairly educated guess, I would suspect that EVERY school has issues. NO school is perfect and if it were, I would be very leery. Stepford comes to mind!!! Life is not perfect and we should not expect the environment we place our children in to be perfect. Maybe the parents who are so disappointed ought to consider the positive side of things. The plus side of Ricks' far outweighs the minus side. We could go on but the fact we have two smiling children who demand we leave the house 'On time Dada!!' so they can get to school says it all! Happily submitted
My name is Nick Gulotta. I have two daughters at the Ricks Center and we are now in our fifth year. I can t imagine my children at any other school. The most important thing about Ricks is it s all about the kids, as it should be. Everything else is secondary. Ricks has lived up to all our expectations and fulfilled every promise. Our family and friends can visually see the confidence and the foundation being built in our children and I couldn t be more proud. Success isn t measured only in ABC s and 123 s; it is measured in the happiness that the children can create for themselves. Thank you Ricks Center.
Our neighborhood school is a DPS gifted school and I was highly disappointed to find that it was elitist and the parents cared more for the gifted label than whether or not the kids are truly gifted. We started thinking about new schools one month into our stay at that school, and found Ricks in our search for other schools. Understand that Ricks isn't a fit for everyone, but for our family, it provides challenging curricula and in depth exploration on each of the subjects that the teachers choose. More than anything I appreciate the fact that the method of learning is more about analyzing and synthesizing the information that is learned. The fact that critical thinking is taught is a huge plus for us. As a Black family I feel the school is as diverse as any in Denver, and as a parent I have always felt welcome.
My child enjoys school but my husband and I are concerned that she is missing some consistency in instruction. it feels a bit like summer camp at times - lots of fun but I'm not sure about the reading, writing and arithmetic portion of things. There is also an underlying weirdness to the place...a subversive type of feeling. Lots of quiet frustrated talk among parents in the hall but there seems to be a generally unspoken understanding that no one says anything openly about issues or concerns. There is also a huge and constant worry about whether or not children are normal or not. Everybody seems to be in some sort of therapy or tutoring. Don't quite understand this one. We are staying one more year and trying to figure out if the tuition (pretty steep) is actually worth it.
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