This is a safe place to share your honest opinions of a school, whether good or bad.
Polaris Expeditionary Learning School4
Posted November 13, 2014
- a parent
If you were to go to CDE's webpage and look at each school's "report card" (School Performance Framework), you'll notice that Polaris in 2014 became the highest ranked school out of all the public schools within the district. This is a testament to the staff. They don't filter kids into AP/remedial courses, they have about 20 fewer days in class to get these results due to their Intensive Weeks and Fieldwork days, they don't inundate my child with homework, and they only use textbooks in math and foreign language. Kids to digital portfolios and preset them to panels at the end of 8th, 10th, and 12th grade. True 21st century learning in my eyes.
As a several-year student of Polaris, I believe it is a school which provides incredible opportunities for students. Coming from another, more traditional high school in Fort Collins, I found my voice was not heard and I was more of a statistic than a member of the community. At Polaris, all the wonderful teachers are supportive and push you as you need. I feel at Polaris, students must foster their own motivation however, because of the system. Although we do not have an AP, or IB program, the classes are engaging and I have learned much more than my time at other schools. With the hands-on, small classroom community, we can have discussions and learn how to critically think. With any criticism towards this school, I would say that the individual may not have flourished because of their lack of effort. The best way to have a rewarding learning experience here is to value your own education, which I have found easy here.
Polaris is a weak school. While some of the teachers are kind, dedicated, and hardworking, other teachers and support staff are disorganized, petty, lacking in professional knowledge and compassion to the point of being mean and in a few cases, actually harassing students. The principal contributes to this dysfunctional behavior by enabling these teachers through selectively addressing parental concerns and ignoring others, being arrogant, patronizing, manipulative, and unfortunately, even dishonest. Furthermore, the school does not fully embrace the expeditionary learning model with either character development or teaching practices on a daily basis. Expeditionary learning is rarely evident outside of the three, week-long intensives each year. The school is definitely something that students and parents should think twice about.
This school cultivates a culture of mediocrity, starting with the principal and going down through the ranks all the way to the students. The student population they attract are largely those who are unable to be successful in a "traditional" school atmosphere. Many people send their children there because they think Polaris provides more opportunities for individual attention, flexibility, and creativity. However, they in reality seem to cater to and encourage not much more than an anti-establishment mentality that in fact stunts the development of a good number of their students who otherwise have potential. Overall, there is an anti-intellectual culture -- among both staff and parents -- that is resentful of students who strive to achieve academically. Parents who take an active interest in their child's education are treated with suspicion and even disdain. In sum, this school is a great fit for students who do not have especially high academic aspirations, but anyone who is academically motivated should steer clear.
This is an incredible school! Motivated, kind teachers and staff- individual attention, understanding of each child's potential. This is not a school for slackers- learning skills for the 21st century- hands on - I highly suggest you take a tour of the school, meet the principal and teachers. All are the most highly comitted people I have ever met. Kids are active, group oriented, and very interesting people! We love this school.
This is a great school for the more artsy, creative, sensitive students. The class sizes are small, very involved, caring environment. They are very understanding of flaky kid behavior. The academics are not overwhelming and adequate to the goal of the kids developing an understanding themselves and being able to do well at college or work. Not rigorous, but basically solid. The kids genuinely seem to care about each other, bullying is nonexistant. Lots of opportunities to travel. Loosely based on the Expeditionary Model. The principal is exceptional.
My son is in 6th grade, and he's flourished at Polaris. The teaching staff is off the charts -- amazing, supportive yet challenging, affirming in my son's growing sense of who he is in the world. The crew and intensives have provided an infrastructure for him to be authentically connected to the other middle schoolers and feel very comfortable and safe socially. He's encouraged to pursue his strengths and he's making progress in areas where he's struggled in the past. I strongly recommend this school for curious and open-minded students.