When we came to this school several years ago, a parent told us the best thing about the school is that it feels like family. As with any family, there is often disagreement and even dysfunction, but still the bond of family remains. The administration, staff and faculty really do a phenomenal job of making this small school on the beach a home and a family. By the way, contrary to other indications, this school has seen very consistent enrollment growth over the past 5-7 years. Less than a decade ago, enrollment was down, the former pastor was unsupportive and there was simply not a large pool of students on the beach to draw from. Today, this school has drawn kids from almost every other public and private school in the area. Fr. Blum, the pastor, strongly supports the school. Mrs. Hudson is visible, involved and more than fair in giving kids chances to be better, even after making really dumb decisions. Best of all, most of the parents are not only involved, but are very supportive in making the school a success.
Just my opinion, but teachers are there to nurture and develop children. In public schools, that nurturing and development is only in the academic categories. In a Catholic school, it is academically, socially, and spiritually, not just making kids smarter, but better members of society. Kids, in any school, will never be angels. Don't be foolish to think Catholic school means no problems that plague us a humans...kids still lie, they still cheat, they can be mean and they can make other bad decisions. St. John's not only has teachers that care enough to grow kids academically, but also care enough to take action when kids stumble and make mistakes. However, these teachers always have us parents as the bigger challenge. Someone once said, the easiest teaching job is teaching orphans. A few fellow parents, as you can even see on this site, can't accept that their child makes mistakes and even more so, believe their child should be free of consequences for their mistakes.
Homework, the topic that always humors me. Knowing as many parents as I know, it is like Goldilocks and the three bears. In one class, some will say too much, some will say not enough and still others will say "just right." Seems to me that those who complain about too little homework are often the same people who are looking for something or someone to keep their child occupied, so they, as parents, don't have to spend time with their kids. The other group who tends to complain about homework volume are the ones who think that elementary and middle school academics determine their child's ability to get into Harvard. Remember, these are still kids. Too often, we push academics so hard and then wonder why our kids hate school and hate learning. Balance is everything and definitely something I like about St. John.
When people talk about public vs. private schools, too often, they speak about meaningless measurements. Things like class size and standardized test scores (which by the way, contrary to a previous post on this site, the school's students perform way above national averages, out pacing even its fellow Catholic school peers) are often the focus. What should be talked about is how students and administration help meet each child, where they are, in their educational journey. There is no predetermined or scripted lesson handed down from some politicians that students either get or they fall behind. Teachers teach. Students learn. For the advanced, they are pushed to excel further. For the student who needs extra help, extra help is given to help them achieve success. Key words "help achieve success" not give away letter grades simply to "move the child along" in the system.
In a world of "selfies" where is easy to be mean and disrespectful of others, St. John goes out its way to emphasize the need for respect. Looking at kids these days, this has to feel like an uphill battle. There are more role models of what not to do, than what to do. Again, certain parents fail in this category. When their "angel" is disrespectful and has to incur consequence, they blame teachers, administration, other kids, and the boogie man for their child's poor choices. So, for some, respect is not just lost on societal pressures, but in the parents who should be the first teachers of their children (not the ones who teach disrespect for teachers)
Yes. In a school with a diverse population of students, many of whom are not Catholic and indeed, many who need financial assistance to attend the school, you cannot deny the connection between the Catholic education and the "focus on others." Being considerate of others is difficult for many adults, but if I had the time and space, I could share dozens of stories about students who have exhibited these qualities. My own child has shocked me several times with comments and actions, thinking of others first.
In meeting the students, 99.9% of our society would die to have kids like these. They are respectful and kind, far more so than the kids in my era. Do kids make stupid mistakes? Sure, they are kids, but there are consequences to these mistakes. Most often, from what I have seen, the "learning curve" from these mistakes is often impeded by parents who refuse to accept their little one makes mistakes and does stupid things too.
From a parent with multiple children in this school, know a couple of things:
1) This school is phenomenal...great teachers, great administration, great results.
2) Private education, by its definition, is not free. It is a choice and sacrifice made by parents. This school is bargain. Affordable tuition and an education that has taken alumni to great area high schools and some of the country's top colleges.
3) The school has a great balance. Days are not filled with teaching to some standardized state test. Students grow academically where the teachers have the freedom to, um, TEACH!!!. Kids are allowed to have fun and enjoy their education, rather than dreading it. And the cherry on top, they grow as humans in a nurturing Christian environment.
This school has gone downhill since the current principal has taken over. Student accomplishments are belittled and largely ignored. Public schools are at least a grade level ahead. I know this from unhappy families who leave left this school is droves over the past 3 years. And also from my own kids friends who are in public school. Don't believe the IB hype like I did. You won't find out it means nothing until you are in middle school and it's too late to back out! The environment involves your kids being bullied by staff and they are all the most uncaring bunch of people I have ever met in education. I know this from their behavior and from a friend of mine who interned at that school. Please do not send your children here. This is not a Christian environment. There is no discipline plan it is all about punishment and humiliation of children. Trust me. There are other schools. If I had it to do over I would never subject a child to this place.
Children at thus school are at least a grade level behind. I have spoken to several families that have left this school and gone to public schools and all of these children were at least a grade level behind. There is one advanced math class. They had 3 different teachers this year and they are 5 chapters behind the regular public school pace. Teachers brag about the fact that they use the same book report format for 28 years. They have iPads that were donated and the kids are not allowed to use them. I have never seen any technology work being done. There is no science lab, microscopes, nothing. Just books and a teacher who stands in front of a class like it's 1958.