I can not say enough good things about this school. The Unquowa school is clearly a place of academic excellence, but it is so much more. Students grow to love learning and they approach this learning with a wide-open minds. Emphasis is placed on creative thinking as opposed to standardized learning of details.
The true strength of the school rests in its culture which is one that embodies respect for each person and their individual gifts.
I cant believe how luck my wife and I were to find this hidden gem. I can't think of any other place we would send our children. And our children would never want to be anywhere else.
Unquowa is focused not only on academics, but also developing "good, caring, people". The staff helps kids accept each other for who they are. Differing interests and unique abilities are celebrated. Students do not ostracize each other for not all being the same. My son has learned that his classmates have skills and interest that he doesn’t share, but has started to become more curious as he has gotten to know them better. There is also alot of community service outreach in which students regularly participate.
Unquowa is truly an amazing and unique school with a very progressive approach to education and learning. My son is in the Lower School and could not be happier. Teachers and administration make a concerted effort not only to get to know each student holistically, but to understand and meet his/her unique academic needs. Remarkably, teachers manage to meet each child’s individual needs in a variety of subjects whether they are ‘gifted’ or ‘typical’.
Some of the most outstanding characteristics of the school are:
1. Sharon Lauer- Head of School. This woman knows her stuff! She sees where education is headed in the twenty first century and has geared the curriculum and altered teaching methods accordingly. She has created a nurturing, compassionate environment where students are expected to treat each other with kindness and learn to think critically about issues and ideas. I have never been in the presence of more polite children than at this school.
2. The commitment of teachers to students, parents and each other. Teachers are invested in what each child is learning. This is not a ‘teach to the middle’ place. They are not racing to cover material- they want our children to love learning and really understand what they are being taught. When something isn’t working, they actually fix it! Teachers also realize that kids are different and learn differently. There is no one size fits all approach here.
3. An integrated curriculum. This is apparent as early as lower school, but is most obvious in upper school where English and social studies are now studied together as “humanities’. Educators and researchers have realized for a long time that material is not best learned in isolation if it is to be applied to problem solving in the real world. We see this on the graduate level consistently- The Case Study approach at Harvard Business School (HBS) is a great example. Students are still learning each subject, but they are also learning how the material in different subject areas relate to each other. Material that could otherwise seem dry really comes alive.
In some ways this is just the tip of the iceberg in terms of what this school has to offer. Bottom line is your child will learn to think (not only to memorize), likely enjoy doing it and be prepared for high school.
Each August for the past few years, our children begin to countdown the days until school opens. Eagerly. My husband and I initially found this a bit strange, not having shared their enthusiasm for school when we were children. However, over the last 8 years at Unquowa, we have watched our children continue to develop not only enthusiasm for school but a wonderful enthusiasm and curiosity for pure learning. The Unquowa administration, faculty and staff are steadfast in their commitment to combine rigorous, robust academics with enriching and meaningful learning experiences. "Learning"at Unquowa is unique in that it occurs not only in classrooms and textbooks , but outside the classroom- be it in the gardens, on the stage, out on the banks of the brook, or in the art room. Students have the extraordinary opportunity to combine traditional learning with hands on experiences. Couple this with an environment that requires respect and understanding for each other. No wonder our children cannot wait to go back.
As our son approaches graduation, I asked him "What makes Unquowa so special?". Without hesitation he said, " The teachers really bond with the kids". It is that bond with his caring and committed teachers that has fueled our son's desire to work hard and excel, not only in the classroom, but on the athletic fields, theatrical plays, musical productions, science fairs and in the technology lab. His teachers know when to push and challenge him. This bond and his solid relationships with the devoted Unquowa teachers has fostered his self advocacy skills. We are confident that he his well prepared for high school and has the skills to be successful. We are so appreciative of the superb leadership by the Head of School, Sharon Lauer, and the strong sense of community she has fostered. It is always unfortunate when a vocal few taint the reputation of a school, especially when there are hundreds of families that have been changed by the tiredless dedication of the Unquowa School. If you are looking for a school where teachers really connect with their students, I encourage you to take a look at Unquowa and ask for yourself, " What makes Unquowa so special ? ".
We couldn’t be happier with Unquowa. Our son has attended for four years and is thriving academically and socially - and, perhaps most importantly, developing a solid sense of who he is and what he has to offer.His test scores rank him as a Johns Hopkins talented youth scholar, he participates in after school athletics throughout the year, he sings and acts in the school plays, has traveled to Costa Rica this with his classmates – we’ve been consistently impressed with the opportunities the school affords it’s students to learn and grow. We appreciate the quality and dedication of the teachers and staff, the sense of community that permeates the building, and are especially impressed with the exemplary head of school, Sharon Lauer, who works tirelessly to make Unquowa the exceptional environment that so many families feel compelled to rave about.
I have left a review or two here before when both of my children were in the lower school at Unquowa and since we have become part of the upper school I wanted to leave another review. I was surprised to read the most recent review from what appears to me to be a disgruntled parent. My child's experience this year has been wonderful. I felt support for my child both academically and when faced with the hurdles of becoming a "middle schooler", This support has even been offered to me via parent groups the school offers. Truly a place the that I feel nothing but the utmost support and caring. Mine is a student with some focus issues and the way the teachers come together to support individual students is truly something rare and needed. To sit down with the teachers at Unquowa who care enough to not only devise plans to make school life better and be encouraged to try strategies at home to help my child with focus, has been a god send. I find the teachers to be approachable, supportive and always with the best interest of my child first. They believe in building a community that teaches children to be responsible, caring and compassionate for one another.
The upper school at Unquowa is overrated. The teachers, with exceptions of a few, are really ill-equipped to teach on emotional, social & intellectual levels. School admin gives them very little support - & doesnt seem to care that they're below par. 1 teacher thought he was equipped to hand out medical & psychological advice to us regarding my son's ADHD. Really frightening. In addition to being very emotionally unsupportive, teacheres use humiliation & negative reinforcement. Learning skills staff &"counseling" staff are outdated & confused, to say the least (even if well intentioned, they seem scared). My son felt very isolated this past year & did not feel he could turn to any of his teachers for help. I can't remember him disliking school so much. He made some good friends though, but kids often talk negatively of their teachers. I have even overheard 8th graders making fun of the "Unquowa education". Facilities are below par in comparison to local private school - with exception of some local smaller parochial (elementary) schools. Perhaps the non-stop push for donations & contributions is b/c they're trying to update. Bottomline: it is not a "progressive" school.
The Unquowa School has provided both of my children with a terrific foundation and a strong moral compass. We still have many years to go at the school and we are confident that this is a great school for our kids and will be a bright future ahead for both of our kids.