What a nightmare school! We attended all the intro meetings (they require multiple ones) filled out a ridiculously long application (which we did not, in the end, turn in), did the tour, etc. We head heard about how poorly behaved kids can sap all the teacher attention, but we still wanted to go view for ourselves. We were appalled at the lack of safety measures and most of all at the rude attitude towards parents. If you have any concerns and would like to speak directly to the administration, they are simply not willing or available. And this attitude goes all the way to the top, the Director. Honestly, during every interaction I got the impression that they like students but hate dealing with parents in any capacity. We simply won't send our kid to a school where we feel the administration views parents as "necessary evils to be avoided."
There are better schools to serve the needs of your gifted child. From Westgate's "about" page, they claim, "Westgate Community School (WCS) is the dream of a group of parents & educators who believe that all gifted learners deserve an educational experience commensurate with their unique needs and abilities...Our goal is to make our students feel successful, understood, and appreciated for who they are." My child, a highly gifted student with an identified disability was at Westgate for three years. My child was isolated in class, physically grabbed and pushed around by support staff members, spoken to in a negative and demeaning manner, and treated like an outcast. Upon filing a complaint with the state, it was found that they were in violation of state education laws. This school fails to hire qualified and licensed staff at all levels to support the needs of gifted children. Check state license web sites. Turnover is very high in this school for both students & staff. Ask yourself, "why" and look toward other schools to effectively meet the needs of your gifted student.
We.are very excited this year at Westgate. Our high schooler just began his first classes in college and our 6th grader couldn't be happier in her classes. There are some new teachers this year, but i only count 3 this year. Sure some teachers have switched teams, but they are still at the school. There is a new counselor but she is AMAZING! Our high schooler was worried about starting classes and she worked with him to be sure all of his questions were answered and she went with the students to FRCC on the first day of classes! We feel so supported by all of the staff at Wesgate. This is a wonderful place to be if your children are gifted and craving challenge!
This is the third year my daughter has been at Westgate. She has had a great experience here. She has had great teachers, she has learned a lot, she has made tons of friends, and when there have been issues, they have been resolved. In addition, she has been in the BASE program and the BASE director has been awesome, providing lots of activities and I feel she is safe and well taken care of. While things aren't always perfect, I'm not sure what school is. Overall, I feel Westgate is trying to do what is best for kids, and because it is not a traditional school, it's not the best fit for everyone.
My kids at first loved this school; smaller ratios of teacher/students. Over time, I had been nervous at the fact that the teacher turnover rate is incredibly high, where behavioral issues are more than obvious with many classrooms, teachers/staff abusing their job titles, (taking personal cell phone calls during class while ordering kids to remain silent throughout class period) classrooms are their cafeteria, and weeds and blacktop/parking lot is their recess living, our gifted and talented kids are to 'use their imaginations' when playing. If you're a stay at home parent, this may be the school for your kids, anyone else used to district level policies should reconsider where you send your children... putting them here may in fact send them back.
We've had our son at Westgate for 3 years now, and I'm finally pulling him out. I wish I'd done it long ago. His Kindergarten year was great, but then the bullying and teasing started. He kept getting told to work it out for himself, and no support was given at all. In any situation outside of his academic classes (e.g., BASE, PE, recess) they have no structure or adequate supervision, so the kids essentially have a free-for-all. My son was teased, punched, kicked, and hit, and no teacher could stop it, or would even claim to witness it, and would completely dismiss my son's complaints. We tried to get him help, but that went nowhere.
I have struggled with what to write for many months since there is little information available about Westgate for prospective families other than Chris J's presentation. While Westgate was founded on a great premise, it has fallen short in execution. While happy with my children's teachers, we were very disappointed by the administration, the BASE program, and the lack of any type of playground other than a cracked, weed-ridden blacktop. While my children were safe overall, some very alarming behavioral problems occurred in the classroom, some of which directly impacted my children and their learning environment. While we feel that our children received a good education during their year at Westgate, we are happy to get them out before they develop any gaps as mentioned in other reviews. Westgate is a choice that we made after winning the lottery at many District 12 schools and we are now exercising our right to send them somewhere else after winning the lotteries at many schools. We hope that Westgate will work through their problems for the sake of the students that are still there but it will need a major overhaul before that happens, both administratively and financially.
The reviewer who said 20 teachers have left since the end of the 2012-13 school year was wrong but didn't lie. More like 28 teachers (K-12, Specials + the school counselor) have left since then, some mid-year, and many were great teachers. Just open up your yearbooks and count for yourself.
We will be pulling our student. We are a new family to Westgate and we couldn't be more DISAPOINTED. Westgate is a nightmare. Several families pulled their kids out of a rigorous program for gifted high school students and brought them to Westgate. These kids excelled in their previous program and have changed their lives to go to Westgate because of false promises of a better learning environment. The first week of class is over and my student has no idea what classes she will be taking at the college or the high school. The teachers can t answer her scheduling questions and the administration won t answer email. I would email the teachers, but their email addresses are not listed on the website and to send them a message through the website I need a log-in, which I can t get because there is only one person who can give it to me and they are on leave! I can t get information from the front desk. There is no course catalog and the information on the High school page and college page on the website are out of date. Spanish 2 is the only foreign language class offered. The Board is a joke. I would like to tell Westgate how we feel, but who do we tell?
We have been at Westgate since the first year and we are so excited about the start of this year. There is a buzz in the building. The teachers have jumped right in. The morning routine for little ones seems more organized. It just keeps getting better and better. We have three at Westgate with number four on his way. He can't wait to start school. Our children come out each day with something interesting to talk about. We couldn't be more grateful to Westgate, Chris J and all the teachers. It's a wonderful place to be. (And to the last reviewer, all of out kids got their ALPs last year - are you even real parent here? Also, 20 teachers didn't leave. That's a lie.) Thank you Westgate! You ROCK!
I would encourage all parents of GT students, new and veterans, to demand an ALP (Advanced Learning Plan) as is your child's legal right in Colorado. Westgate will tell you that your child doesn't need one since they are a GT school but insist on one anyway to hold them accountable. Ask to view it and have it available at conferences. Also, the teacher turnover is very high as other reviewers have pointed out. From the end of the 2012-13 school year to the beginning of the 2014-15 school year 20 teachers have left the school ( 3 of those left during the school year and no there was not a baby boom). This does not include support staff which also seems to have a high turnover. The % of students who leave is just as bad. Even board members, board presidents and the founding members have pulled their kids from this school. Many families have loved this school at one point, only to be shocked and disappointed when they discovered that no matter how loyal you are, this school will hide something important from you or simply ignore legitimate concerns.
Westgate and their mission/vision sounds great on paper, but this school has been nothing but a disappoint from the moment my child set foot on that campus. As a parent with a twice exceptional student Westgate sounded great, because of how they integrate center types of accommodations school-wide. However, Westgate-and especially Chris the Director-- thinks she has all the answers, and creates an environment extremely difficult to work with in terms of IEP and 504. Bottom line is no outside therapies sought for my child were reinforced at school and his education and progress has suffered. I caution any parent to take any sort of in school testing with a grain of salt, as I did. While Westgate reported on grade level, when tested by a learning specialist outside of school he was two grade levels below. We are now spending almost all our time getting our child outside therapies and interventions, simply to undo what was not addressed at Westgate. Further, the communication between staff at all levels is a joke. Do not expect any progress reports or responses to emails. It should also be noted the turnover in families & staff is extremely high. Westgate should be ashamed.
We are going into our 4th year at Westgate and could not be happier. Both of my gifted children thrive here. Westgate is different. It is not for everyone, But which school is? When checking into charter school, each offers something different, and Westgate is different in an amazing way. Each year, both my children have grown, academically, emotionally, and spiritually. This is the BEST place for my kids!! I have great communication with both teachers and administration, and have had my children's problems solved in a timely manner.
I agree with the review posted May 5th. Also, the teacher and student turnover rate is significant and not just after the school year ends but during the school year. If another Westgate family recommends Westgate, be aware that they are offering free student fees if you refer a family that stays until the student count (for funding by the district) is over in October. A lot of families have left. We were at this school for a long time but left due to its instability and poor communication. The leadership is very convincing and will win you over at the information nights but they disappear and avoid you once you enroll your student. They will tell you not everyone is a good fit for Westgate. This is true, especially is you like your school to be accountable and communicate in a timely manner.
I usually ignore the single star reviews, but I have to say this school really deserves one star, if any. We pulled our children out mid-year. They were playing at school, and not much else. When I tried to check on my son's progress in math, I found his folder empty. There's no homework and so I had no idea what he was supposed to be learning. There doesn't seem to be any kind of plan or sequence, and one teacher asked me to leave her classroom when I asked how he did on a test. I really wanted to give this school a chance. We have twice exceptional kids, and we were compelled, but you should be very careful when considering this school. There are a lot of very good reviews, but if you'll notice they all kind of come at the same time, like the school has its staff write a lot of positives to offset the negatives from real families. Also, good teachers are leaving due to tense director-down relationships. Turnover rate is extraordinary, and from what I hear there are fears of retaliation from the top down when a teacher wants to look for another job. This negative culture filters down to students and we felt it keenly.
Our sons, grades 1 & 5, are in their second year at Westgate and we couldn t be happier. As a college teacher, I hear constant complaints that students can t think critically. That's why my kids go to Westgate. The level of education is hugely better than at the other two schools my oldest attended. They do projects that challenge gifted kids to think outside the box and see applications for what they are learning. I have amazing conversations with my son at a level that I d be happy if my college students could attain. The teachers, especially the 5/6 team, are the best teachers ever. They re creative, caring, fun, and inventive. My son adores them. Other things I love: no homework, small class sizes, REAL individualized education, responsiveness to parents (both kids were moved up in math by our request), breaks and recess, workshop to teach kids responsibility for their own assignments, amazing communication from the teachers (I know exactly what my kids are working on each week in each subject and I can look up their grades any time), laptops for each kid, etc. This is our third school and we finally got it right. We commute 25 minutes each way because this school is worth it.
Our choice to send our children to WCS was the worst parenting decision we have ever made. In our defense, the parent information meeting and tour was misleading and not consistent with what is really happening once your children actually attend. They have a great sales pitch and act as though they care when you are in the process of enrolling, but once you are part of the community and express any concern you are chastised and made to feel disposable. When trying to have conversations about my children, their safety, their learning, I was ignored. It is chaos. My son's anxiety has become much more intense because of the debacle of a school due to the lack of structure and safety. There is no leadership. They may have a director, but she is not a leader. She does not know any of the kids in the primary grades or anything about them. She has made it evident that she does not care to. She doesn't try to get to know any of them and my kids didn't even know she was the "principal." I feel like such a fool for falling for the false advertisement.
My children enjoy Westgate with all of the freedom it allows and our family loves the philosophy of the school and wish they actually practiced what they preached. Unfortunately the safety concerns, lack of communication including not returning messages or emails, very untimely progress reporting (if at all), lack of cleanliness, not knowing where our money is spent or how the school is functioning, lack of staff considering that the school goes through high school now and the very high staff turnover rate, we have decided to quietly move elsewhere for next year. People's concerns on this site are valid. There are strengths as well, but be cautious entering this school. I've noticed a sudden influx of positive comments just as new families might be considering this school. Buyer beware. This school is a work in progress. My children will no longer carve the rugged path for the next generation, but will get what they need now.
I am a parent of a 3rd and 1st grader. One gifted, one never tested, neither twice exceptional, but they are wild ponies. They have both attended the school since Kindergarten. While the school has had its bumps along the road, it is a wonderful school. I am a regular and vocal volunteer. Here is why we love it, which is also why others don't (there are pros and cons to each of these things):modified year round schedule:my kids need the breaks and it makes for AMAZING times to take vacations. Recess before lunch:my kids would never eat if lunch was first. Computers for each child:every school should have this. Multiple recess/quiet time/soft start:although the day is longer, this is a wonderful benefit for my kids(some feel it is wasted time). Small class size:the con is that there is less $ for the school, but anyone who doesn't think small class size is important needs to volunteer more. No homework:we have tools like spelling city and IXL to do with the kids at home so we can keep an eye on how they are doing but it is on our own time.Gifted programming: I think my 3rd grader would hate school by now if he were in a traditional program. No playground:let them come up with ideas!
Westgate is a school dedicated to providing an education for individual learning styles. They specialize in teaching to children that have unique learning styles and encourage imagination and individualism. They feel that it is important to nurture emotional as well as educational needs. This has been a fantastic place for both my children to grow and learn. My kid's love going to school and have thrived in this supportive and creative environment. Their out of the box approach to learning has improved my children's lives and educational experience. We love Westgate!
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