As a former faculty member, I recommend that parents and teachers avoid this school. St. Francis is often suggested for students who struggle. You get smaller class sizes, but the quality of education is worse than public schools that I have observed. Some choose a private school because high tuition implies higher quality education, but this is false for St. Francis and many other private schools.
I am mostly speaking of the science program since that is my area of expertise, but a great school will excel in every department. The curriculum is almost entirely concept memorization with no critical thinking or problem solving. Instruction is reading facts from PowerPoints. There is no need to focus in class because notes can be accessed online. Tests scores are basically a measure of your ability to memorize. A teacher cannot make any changes to the curriculum without approval from an administration that is proud that their system has had little change in 25 years.
Some believe memorization helps students because little thought is required, also known by their condescending phrase “dumbing it down.” This has the opposite effect because you are removing the logical reasoning that one actually needs to understand concepts. Lowering rigor to ensure students “do well” gives parents the illusion that their children are receiving a better education. Many private schools can do this because there are little testing standards that must be met.
The school needs more teachers and many are dissatisfied with the system yet have no power to change it. I fought for positive changes and consequently was not offered a contract for next year. Fear and control keeps everyone in line. I was told that the average employment duration for faculty members is about two years. Several teachers work for a year or two and then wish to leave as soon as a new opportunity arises.
This school gets two stars instead of one because the students are amazing. They have personality, character, and are capable of more than what their school provides. Ironically, these students they claim are slow and require special needs actually understand the flaws of St. Francis that the administration cannot see.
My daughter is a freshman at this school and I had been fairly satisfied until
recently. I was thrilled that she had the opportunity to go here and was sure that this was where she needed to be. Sadly I was wrong. She told me that her teachers did not care anymore than the ones that she had a public school. Her grades are the same as they were in public. I had hoped with smaller class size and private school atmosphere that she would have better success. She does not want to return.
This school needs extreme improvement in every area possible. It saddens me to see how the school continues to be allowed to operate in their current manner. The potential is endless and I just wish someone would be able to recognize the potential and change it for the better.
This is our second year here and we are very pleased with the school. We transferred here from another private school in Atlanta that specializes in above average students only. My child needed more hands on help in reading yet he was accelerated in math. This school offers a tiered system of classes ( at least in the later elementary and middle school years). You can be in honors math yet on grade level for English and vice versa. They also have a support level for kids who need even more help. No one makes fun of which class you are in - as most students are not in all honors classes. The honors class did similar work to the other private school we used to attend - so it is comparable. They do not put up with discipline issues - using a point reward system for non uniform day rewards. The expectations are not unreasonable - in fact, compared to the other private school, St. Francis is a bit more relaxed. I am not sure how it compares to public school for behavior issues though. The school does discourage parents in the classrooms or reading the announcements as this is a distraction for some students. They have your child's best interest in mind rather than appeasing the parents who would like to be there all the time. If your child needs a little extra support, this is a wonderful school.
My children have been at St Francis for two years. After last year, I told myself to give it one more year in order gain enough insight into their academics and environment. After this current year, I will not be returning. I no longer trust the school with the safety of my children. Their philosophy of handling problem behaviors includes not addressing the bad behavior unless a child asks for help. This philosophy applies to kindergarten, as well. To me, this creates a bully environment and cliques within the small sized classroom. Add their philosophy to the fact that there is not a lot of play therapy for the children. The children have very little to play with, therefore they get bored and start picking on one another. Also, they are a very closed door school. Parents are only allowed to eat lunch with their child once a month; other than helping with classroom parties, there is not opportunities for the parents to volunteer and be a part of the classroom. This closed door allows the school to sweep a lot of what happens inside the school under the rug. And yes, they are worried about offending their big $$ supporters ... at the expense of other students/families.
I have been a student since kindergarten at Saint Francis, am now a junior. I have been exposed to many teachers, and of course, many students over these 12 years. I can say that the school has been as supportive as you can expect, letting us grow as students and helping us learn to deal with real-world-like conflicts more and more as we get older. The counselors have all been fantastic as they have helped those of us who may have felt awkward at various times. The support from the academic staff has always been there for those of us who have sought it. I feel Saint Francis has been a good preparation for college.
I absolutely do not agree with the previous two reviews. My children have never felt bullied at St Francis and have a diverse group of friends. They are not part of the Athletics programs and do not feel slighted in the least. They are progressing very well in school and I feel they are better prepared than my child who attends a top Cobb County public school. The staff is supportive, but firm. They expect a lot from their students and won't put up with behavior problems. We recommend this school to anyone who ask us about the program. They have varying levels from support to honors classes and are willing to move children if they prove to need a different level of teaching. Keep up the good work!
My time at St. Francis was nothing short of horrible. The teachers are mean, the "point system" is a negative reenforcement system and as such source of intense stress and fear, bullying and superiority complexes among the students are a major problems which the staff outrightly refuses to deal with, even in serious cases, they're scared of the affluent oversensitive parents is all I can figure. It is not a good fit for children who are different. I'd like to state that I was being generous with this review.
On a good day, this school is mediocre. If you do not mind your children watching TV during physical education, playing ABC Mouse during computer class, learning a reading program geared toward the below average reader, and an overall academic program slowed down and spoon fed in order to keep pace with the overwhelming amount of ADHD students they accept. The administration at St Francis falsely represents their school by not identifying to perspective parents they are a school for children with learning disabilities and behavior problems. If your child is self-motivated, possesses average intelligence, and has self-management tools, I do not feel this is the right academic environment for you. I had high hopes for St Francis Elementary, but instead I have been let down and disappointed.
The admissions director went out of her way to schedule a time and met with me to discuss my child. The admissions director took the time to review my child's file and let me know her thoughts on what St. Francis could do to help my child meet success. My child is having an amazing year at St. Francis. I thank the admissions director for her support during the admissions process.