The curriculum for kindergarten was very much beneath my daughter. She went to school at Cottonwood for a few weeks before I was able to volunteer. There were over 30 children in the half-day program and only one teacher and no aide. We parents were asked to volunteer in the classrooms. I was thrilled to do so, but this class size needs at least a teacher and a full-time teacher's aide. Her pre-school and pre-K classes (at another school) each had fewer students and two teachers, which I feel is more appropriate. The class was in disarray. The children were hitting and spitting. My two jobs as volunteer were to watch one child who as not assigned a seat because he wouldn't stay in it and to take a naughty child to the principal's office. Prior to this, my daughter had cried to me at home, saying she didn't want to go back to school. I asked her teacher about it, and was told, "lots of kids go through that." When I got there, I was read to cry too. The curriculum included recognizing letters which is definitely something my children could do at age 3. When I discussed this with the teacher, she explained they must teach to all children, some of which have never seen a book before. She assured me that my daughter would thrive at Cottonwood. I left to find another school with more appropriate curriculum and class sizes and better behavior control.
We have been pleasantly surprised by this school for our youngest special needs daughter. She started last year in kinder and have been blown away by the love and support we have felt at this school. She has a lot of challenging behaviors and quirks, but the teachers, principal, office, therapists, and everyone else always worked with us to help any situations that arose and even worked around some of her more difficult problems. She was in a mainstream classroom, and we always felt she was included just like her peers and even the kids in other grade levels would include her. We have older kids in PSD and there have not been any school of choice openings for her yet.....but we are so happy that our youngest got "stuck" at Cottonwood Plains!
The school is small enough that children aren't "lost in the mix." Children that excel are given opportunities to challenge themselves while children that struggle are worked with individually, as appropriate.
Our family has had a wonderful experience at Cottonwood. We transferred from another school, where I thought my second grader was excelling, only to find he was behind in some areas. Now, two years later, with the amazing support of his teachers and administration he is able to attend a middle school math program as a fourth grader. My daughter began kindergarten with minimal reading ability and has maintained a reading level two grades above as first grade year ends. For both of my children they have had amazing support from their teachers and appropriately challenged in the classroom and in gifted and talented classes, without giving either of them a ceiling for their learning potential. The "E" in PRIDE is for Everybody Belongs. Cottonwood Plains truly works together to be an encouraging & nurturing diverse community.
Cottonwood is an above average school in many ways. The principal is very helpful and kind. The test scores for most kids are above average. It is a nice building. There are a few drawbacks as well, though. One is a heavily loaded GT program which, similarly to other schools, has a lot of bright or hard working kids but not a lot of gifted kids. The previous GT coordinator was good. The current one does too much test prep for kids whose parents want that identification and retests on similar tests within short periods of time which has increased the problem with overloading the GT program and making it less likely to meet the needs of kids who aren't traditional high achievers.
I am wondering why as a parent, I must understand how the school policy works regarding such things as school attire for my daughter, but the teachers do not. It is not uncommon for me to see high heels and very short skirts on the teachers when my daughter cannot where color in her hair or wear a snow hat in the building. Just today I saw one of the younger grade teachers not only wearing a see through shirt, but you could see her stomach through the shirt. Not understanding the double standard here....
I am excited to start the new school year! Awesome staff to work with, caring Principal, dynamic families, and overall respect for children! There is no better place to be! Happy 2011-2012 school year everyone!
We have had such a positive experience at Cottonwood Plains. We have two children who attend and we could not be more pleased with how their academic needs have been met--both in the Gifted and Talented track and in their regular classes. The teachers have worked very hard to make sure my children are being pushed academically, but still balance having fun and using their creativity. I am especially pleased that they are expected to be responsible for their actions and they explain rules and expectations clearly. I really feel like the teachers enjoy their job and there is a very good parental support system in place.