I love Saint Mary's Academy lower school! Teachers concentrate not only on what children learn but how children learn. The curriculum entails an integrated approach which emphasizes the active learning process. The process, which encourages cooperative learning, includes problem solving and decision making. Young learners are provided with essential learning skills, cooperative social behavior, appreciation for the arts, good study habits and physical coordination, these are sequentially developed for each grade level. My child wakes up on the weekends wishing that it was school day!
We had high hopes for St. Mary's and even turned down a last minute invite from St, Anne's to keep our daughter there from Kindergarten through 3rd grade. We knew that we had utterly lucked out with our 1st/2nd grade teacher and team. But we had been warned by other parents on their way out to keep our eyes on the curriculum. We tried. Many promises were made - things would be different! The only thing that was different was that the bullying was coming from the teachers instead of being stopped by them. Educational testing showed that there were "great glaring holes" in her education that ought to be but weren't. Predominantly in areas like civics, vocabulary, and, math. Compared to someone taking the same test from public schools? St. Mary's kids couldn't identify 3 branches of government, what a myth was, or how to memorize the multiplication tables rather than just rapid-adding. We pulled our daughter mid-year and placed her in a nearby school that nurtures kids who are gifted but might face challenges. She blossomed right away I hear the high school is different - but I wouldn't recommend the lower school except for average middle-of-the-road students.
What I like most about St. Mary's Academy is the academic standard, the family atmosphere and the caring of teachers and administrators. Not only are our children prepared academically but also socially. As independent thinkers they are given the tools for leadership. The relationship between student and teacher continues to set us apart from other area schools. Both small class size and flexible schedule allow these great bonds to form. St. Mary's Academy provides the best education in the region and among the top schools in the country.
During the last year we moved from Australia to Denver. Like a previous reviewer we thought the small environment of SMAS might make the transition of our 3 children ages 8, 10 and 13 easier. And we were right! Remarkably all of our children have made many friends and have been welcomed and included with open arms. There were transition issues with academics and friendships but we feel the teachers worked very hard with us and our children to work issues out to enable the children to adapt. The community is very supportive and inclusive. Could not be happier.
My son spent a miserable year at this school when we first moved to Denver from California. My husband and I had thought that the small environment of SMA might make his transition to a new city easier. Were we ever wrong! My son, who had never had peer issues at his previous school, was bullied and excluded in ways that I thought only existed in bad sitcoms and teen movies. The administration was either unable or unwilling to help the situation. Although he ultimately found a small group of friends who felt similarly excluded and bonded with them, he still remembers his year at SMA as his worst ever.
Our two boys, ages 6 and 9, have gained a lot this year attending the lower school. Great friendships have been formed in a school that has become an extended family quickly. The academics are advanced, with tons of hands-on learning and creativity at every turn. We are so glad we switched to this school.
Some 6th and 7th grade teachers are impressive. Academics are strong but the middle school teachers overall were unwilling or unable to motivate my kid. Look elsewhere for middle school boys. Practically no assistance for high school placement. Leadership inconsistent. Lower school is, however, fantastic! The leadership in lower school and teacher's were willing and able to motivate boys and girls.
I am amazed that there are any negative reviews. I wonder if their was maybe a bad teacher or family's that weren't involved in their child's education to warrant bad reviews? We are in the lower school I love this school and my daughter has flourished and felt safe and supported. Any small concerns I have had were listened too and taken care of. My daughter was in 2 schools prior (due to moving) and this is the only school where there hasn't been any peer problems and she is further along acedemically from her friends at other schools. And last but not least I am on a partial scholorship and am not wealthy and I have been recieved with open arms and there has thus far been an amazing collection of like minded parents that care about their children's education and upbringing with a positive moral thread woven throughout. At my daughter's previous school she would come home weekly crying about someone bullying her or fighting with someone in her class. I can say there has not been one report of anyone even being mean to anyone in her class. The teachers know if your child is having a bad day or if they lost their sweater etc. It's wonderful!
Bullying has been a problem that this school has not addressed. Adequate actions are not taken to change a (bullying) child's behavior and successfully change bullying patterns. Promises are made to parents across the board, with little to no permanent action being taken. There is a lack of adequate structure, discipline, and positive goal setting for the children to feel successful and motivated to improve. Social pressures dominate the campus and classroom. Space is provided by the school for tutors who work through the school day, paid for by the parents, to catch up their kids to grade level. Reading and writing skills are not successfully taught, with problems first appearing in 2nd and 3rd grades.
My son attended the lower school for many years. The school's small class sizes are an illusion. There is no one teacher responsible for each child. The kids are shuffled from teacher to teacher all day, consequently they know the students. Few of the teachers are well enough educated, to educate any but the most typical of children. Many children are being tutored because they are behind. The lack of cohesive programs and curriculums are examples of the unprofessional nature of this school. They adopt programs and curriculums, that are age inappropriate and implement them hurriedly and poorly. The "counselor" is not an education or counseling professional, but a nurse. The Loretto values are held up as a goal by this school, It fails however to provide the leadership and modeling necessary for children to learn and utilize these values. The leadership doesn't allow certain children to be disciplined, binding the hands of teachers, and forcing them to look the other way. I and many other parents have found the St. Mary's lower school to provide nothing but empty promises, accompanied by vapid smiles.
My daughter currently attends SMA's Middle School. She loves this school and has received an outstanding education. Our 6th grade experience included a rigorous academic program mixed with a positive and nurturing environment. The staff and administration is very supportive, and are truly invested in the students. I would strongly recommend this school, as it has exceeded all of our expectations.
Our daughter will be a sophmore in High School at SMA next year. She has been at St. Mary's since she was in Kindergarten. She has recieved an excellent education. Her PSACT (given to Freshman with the Sophmores to see where they stand) was a 30 (wow). In addtion to an excellent Lower, Middle and High School it has been a safe, nurturing enviroment that has mirrored our values. That being siad, it is NOT a school for children with learning disabilities such as dyxlexia. They are not and should not be expected to deal with these special issues. These children belong at schools like Denver Academy etc. Over the years I have met many parents who do not understand this and become very angry. Also the school is smack dab in the middle of Cherry Hills where many parents send thier children to school. SMA does it s best to be as diverse as possilbe giving aid to students who cannot afford the the tuition. i HIGHLY RECOMMEND
Our daughters attended the high school only. We absolutely loved it and believe our daughters received a very high quality high school education. Best way to describe our experience is this: when we toured the school we had no intention of sending our daughters there. After the tour we had decided that our daughters would attend because in four years we wanted our daughters to be like the senior who lead the tour. I.E. Poised, articulate, mannered and obviously smart. By senior year both daughters were like that. Maybe our daughters would have turned out like that somewhere else, but we believe SMA made a significant contribution. We attribute this outcome not just to the academics, or the opportunities or the quality of the staff, but also to the school' striving to achieve its core values of faith, community, justice and respect. Finally, we will add that at times we were simply astounded by the quality of the students. Not all students are "really smart" though some are so smart it is stunning, but all or nearly all learn how to "work" while at the school.
St. Mary's Academy is an excellent place to be. We have music and theatre arts offered on a regular basis, as well as orchestra, guitar classes, hand bells, band, private lessons, excellent tutoring available in all subjects and an after school program. We have classes in French, Spanish and Chinese (in the high school) by mainly native speakers. The statistics don't show that we have a VERY diverse student population. Also, we are co-ed K-8 and all girls (a real blessing for them) in the high school. If you are interested, call and set up a time to visit or a whole day to shadow! It's a great place to be! Faith-Community-Justice-Respect
Our child attended St Mary's Lower School. There seem to be substantial issues with the reading outcomes for children in the Lower School. Significant numbers of the children receive tutoring on campus (LS). Our child was two years behind in reading, and the school did not acknowledge anything. The principal and teachers did not follow through on agreed upon strategies to support the child in areas that were identified through private testing. St Mary's has no annual testing process to identify and track student progress, and it is very difficult to maintain accountability within the Lower School.
My son attended St. Mary's from K through 2nd grade. We pulled him out to send to our local public elementary because we didn't feel as though we were getting any value for the money we were spending. Low and behold, at his new school he is considered behind in math by almost 2 years. The teachers at St. Mary's never said anything to us about any problems in math, so I can only assume that he was not the only one with this problem. Also, I don't think that they are very well equiped to deal with younger children. We had two other parents pull their children out of that school to send to public school due to the fact that they were unhappy with the way the instructors handled their children.
I have had 2 children go through St. Mary's Academy Middle School and High School. The academics, community and individual support of each child is amazing. My girls are incredibly successful in every aspect of their lives, thanks to St. Mary's. The students are offered superior academics along with being guided in how to be their best selves. My only regret is that I didn't start them at St. Mary's in kindergarten!!
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