Although the school instructs the parents to allow the students to be responsible for their own success, there is little to no interaction or direction. In the end, the board would rather focus on teaching to the tests than teaching for the student. Definitely, not a fan.
First and foremost: UNSAFE!!!! Anyone can walk in and walk out of this building almost any time in the morning and in the afternoon unchecked. THEN: huge class sizes so almost no individual attention. Horribly crowded cafeteria, terrible food. Complete lack of supervision in the hallways during junior high and high school passing periods, lunchtimes, before and after school - pushing, screaming, knocking into others, roughhousing, throwing items. Library one of noisiest ever seen - very few books, no comfortable places to read, no current magazines. Few and small bathrooms for student use. Part of recess areas totally unsupervised. I am a prospective parent who walked in one morning unchecked and got a visitor pass, spent the morning walking around and saw it all. You couldn't pay me ten thousand dollars to send my kids here.
When students are allowed to behave the way they do in the classrooms, in the hallways, in the cafeteria, outside after school, and at athletic events without any consequences whatsoever.....absolutely not. There will have to be a huge overhaul to get these to exist in this school.
This school values those families with the deepest pocketbooks more than those who chose it because their home district options are failing. The 'sense of community' pertains to the wealthy families. There's a small group of them who have taken to bullying and shaming those who either disagree with them or upset the harmony of their days online, and the school refuses to help. We pulled our child after being a family here for several years; the students (at elementary) are just as cruel as the parents, and if your Mom and Dad write a big enough check, you can get away with anything. This is NOT why we chose the Academy.
After being an Academy family for years, we are moving our youngest elsewhere. The school is overcrowded and is too focused on meeting the needs of the wealthier, more influential families at all grades. They say they have zero tolerance for bullying, but when even the parents are allowed to bully others over social media, then what sort of example are they setting? Little to no support for academic clubs. Total focus on PARCC scores at all grades and no problem or inquiry based learning (so it's all rote memorization with little application to real life situations.) Too many high dollar fundraisers (do we really need a high priced ball drop or parents-only gala in addition to a 5K?). Let's stop focusing on the wealthy parents and get back to educating ALL kids, regardless of income level!
My child started the Pre-K program and I have been very impressed. My son has been able articulate and discuss subjects like Hellen Keller and MLK. In addition, he is only 4 and is starting to read. The other wonderful thing is "my child loves going to school and looks forward to it". It has been a great experience so far, and I recommend it.
My child goes to the half-day Pre-K program at the Academy. We absolutely love it. My son has a fall birthday, so this is actually his 3rd year of preschool. He has gone to a different preschool each year (plus the Goddard School back when I used to work). I have to say that I have been amazed at the quality of this program compared to the other preschools that he has been to. There is plenty of time for play but also a strong focus on learning. It is obvious that a lot of thought has been put into the curriculum for each week. The kids don't do worksheets; they learn through art, activities, music, guests, games, etc. Every week the teachers change out all of the toys at each center to go along with the theme for the week. They even do tongue strengthening exercises to help with their verbal skills! The teachers also emphasize discipline and independence. The kids are taught to resolve their own disputes. I wish the rankings for the Academy were separated out by Elementary, Middle School and High School. My experience so far with the elementary school is that it is a top notch school and feel very fortunate have my son enrolled here.
This school is not all its hyped up to be. They rely on their reputation alone and do not care about the students as individuals. All classes are filled to maximum capacity (29-30 students per class, 3-5 classes per grade). It is a joke trying to attend a school event as the school is so overpopulated that parking and finding a seat to sit is impossible. Furthermore pickup at the main campus is a zoo! We withdrew our children from this school after dealing with rude teachers and a snobby principal for over a year. Not recommended! (Referring to Elementary, we have heard that it only goes down hill from there once students move to Middle & High School.) Look elsewhere, much better options available that provide students with greater attention and educational support in order to help them succeed.