This is a great school, the teachers are very nice and helpful. They are very supportive of you if you need help. I attended Sarah Smith for K-4 and I'm now in 6th grade at Westminster. The amount of homework at Sarah Smith was just right. In fourth grade, I had the most homework. I love science and the High Tech High Touch experiments and I wish we could have done even more. Some of the teachers assign at-home experiments that are fun and helpful. The teachers are great at having the class do an equal amount of group/individual activities. My teachers really helped me with story writing (hook, plot, conclusion, how to make your story interesting, etc;). However, my grammar could have been better. For math, there is a system in grades 3-5 with 3 levels of math - advanced, regular, and lower. Advanced math is 1 grade higher than regular. Regular math is your grades math level. Lower math is the same as your grade but the teachers take a lot more time on a subject than the other math levels. To make sure you are in the right math level, you take a test that would be the hardest test in the grade before, but the easiest test in your grade. Your math placement depends on your score + your previous teacher's assessment of your math abilities. For ELA (English language arts), the school has a program for people who have English as their second language. They have good teachers who know both languages and by the end of the year I am sure the students will know a lot more English. All students take French as the foreign language. The french teachers are nice and helpful. You won't be fluent in French by the end of elementary or even close, but you will know enough to be comfortable on a trip to France. I was part of the chess club and chorus at Sarah Smith. Mr. Thompson, the music teacher, is awesome!
Sarah Smith is a wonderful community school. We have two children attending this school and are very satisfied with the quality of their education. Parent involvement is extremely high--there is a very active PTA and an education foundation that provides funding for academic programming. The vast majority of teachers at SRS are terrific--they are creative, caring and engaging with the kids. I receive regular communication from both my kids' teachers and feel like I know what's going on in the classroom. We have a new principal (as of January 2016) who is absolutely amazing--he is building on our success but has creative ideas for improvement. He has a great attitude and is warm and welcoming to students and parents. It is a big school and that can be intimidating in the beginning--but after four years as an SRS family we feel like part of a tight-knit community.
In reading some of these reviews I feel like the people writing these are talking about an entirely different school than Sarah Smith. We love this school. Our daughter is in her 2nd year there and both years we have been so pleased with her teachers, their caring, concern and teaching. We believe she has grown and learned so much! In addition, the art and music programs are wonderful and we believe an absolutely essential part of a well-rounded education. We cannot say enough wonderful things about the staff and school and we feel very fortunate to be attending this school!
The teachers we experienced were totally clueless as to how to effectively manage a class of almost 30 five year olds. They complained everyday and were not very patient with them. I guess they were stressed.
All I saw where worksheets printed off the internet. Books sent home for my Kindergartner were way over his age range. I would read the stories and they were so long, he couldn't answer the comprehension questions that followed.
Mediocre school living off past glory. My child learnt nothing while there for a year. All he learned was to be scared of school as he said the teachers were 'not nice to him'. Thankfully we moved back home to London and he started school here. At his current school, he consistently wins awards and praises from his teachers.
At Sarah Smith each day we picked him up, they had something negative to say about his behaviour. There was a day I volunteered to help make stuff for the school, I happened to walk past his class and saw that his teacher had given him a single desk facing the classroom door. He literally was sitting with his back to the rest of the class and his teachers, whilst facing all the distractions the busy hallway had to offer. I requested a meeting with the teacher and head teacher once I found out he'd actually being in that position for over two weeks. Now I'm not an expert, but this in my opinion was not the right way to deal with a child that "talks too much, doesn't sit criss cross applesauce, does not walk a straight line in the hallways". These were the crimes I was told he committed that got him this sitting position. Not that he hurts or attacks his friends or anything awfully distracting.
The head teacher did the right thing during the meeting and agreed that banishing a child to the exit was exclusionary and child shaming and was not the right thing to do with a 5 year old. She requested the teacher seat him close to her, so he could be redirected once he started getting antsy. Unfortunately, by this point, the harm had already being done and school held little pleasure for him.
We are very happy things have improved since attending his new school. He's reading very well now, writing full page stories, and we've discovered he's an Arithmetic genius but best of all, he enjoys school. He still cries when he remembers Sarah Smith and does not even want us to talk about visiting Atlanta as he is too scared we will send him back there. We have promised him he will never have to go back there. It's being 11months since our son left Sarah Smith and I'm writing this review now because he came crying again this morning saying he had a nightmare that he we sent him back to Sarah Smith. This literally broke my heart! I had to put this down. It was Kindergarten, why did it have to be so stressful???
The homework was nothing but busy work to give the illusion of serving a purpose -- it was mostly worksheets or iXL, which I found to be very punitive. My child's teacher didn't even see homework let alone correct it: she had a student do it. (Giving the child outsized power over his/her classmates.)
When considering Sarah Smith for your child, understand it is two very different schools under one name: the K-2 campus and the 3-5 campus.
The Pros: The teachers at the K-2 campus over overwhelmingly supportive, caring and engaged & seem genuinely happy to be teaching and working at Sarah Smith. The school has an active, vibrant parent volunteer base, including a robust Foundation that provides support for the curriculum. There is a great sense of community around the school. Lots of after school activities.
The Cons: Mainly the 3-5 campus: the teachers here seem to suffer from a serious morale problem, and seem to treat the kids with contempt; increasingly the teachers are young and inexperienced; if your kid is advanced academically, the teachers' solution is to offer more work rather than more difficult work; the math curriculum is horrendous (thanks to APS commitment to Everyday Math); few teachers seem to want to go the extra mile: they have their established lessoned plans and they won't alter them; my children brought home worksheets with spelling, grammatical and factual errors; science was taught from a book rather than with experiments or hands-on activities. In 3rd grade, kids were still doing ELA reading from the "Treasures" text books instead of actual novels. Math is supposed to be differentiated by ability but all the kids were doing the same homework. The kids have no tolerance for children who don't conform to the athletic boy/fashionable girl stereotype & teachers do nothing to encourage a tolerant atmosphere. There is a bullying problem the admin is blind to & teachers refuse to address (mockery, social exclusions). The building itself is bland and soulless; the playground is too small for 400 kids. The biggest problem though is the academics are really geared toward scoring high on the standardized tests. My child's teacher began the drumbeat of text prep immediately following winter break. The teachers put too much faith in the various standardized test scores (eg STAR math & reading). Classes are too big; the school itself is too big (1100 kids). The principal is leaving; the school will have its 4 leader in 4.5 yrs.
Bottom line: Your kids is fine through 2nd grade, but save your pennies for private school from 3rd grade & up.
The grammatical errors that come home on communications are egregious. I am appalled. It seems like few have advanced degrees and attend programs to further their research and education. Teaching seems more like a hobby or babysitting for most of those we've had. My in-laws came to the classroom once and remarked that the teacher was sweet and would make an excellent babysitter. Part of the problem is that the class sizes are huge and the student population is so diverse. The different learning levels within one classroom makes it impossible for one person to effectively communicate a topic to 26 children of varied intellectual ability.