We stumbled into St. James with our oldest child almost 10 years ago and couldn't be more pleased with the overall experience. All of our children have thrived academically as well as socially and spiritually. The teachers with very few exceptions have been outstanding - great educators and even better people. Small class sizes and individual academic attention. Despite the size, there is a wide variety of activities for students from athletic to academic to artistic. The school/parent community is exceptional - warm and inviting.
As the father of two sons who have attended St James Lutheran, I am very pleased to share this brief comment about this school. The smaller size of the school enables very strong attention by teachers to each student, and each student's needs, in the classroom. This is just so critical, and can't be found at area public schools. Additionally, the school is very attentive to its students achieving academic standards, and ensuring students advance according to state/federal criteria. All of this amidst a very warm school community, with active parent participation. Highly recommended.
As a parent of both existing and graduated students, I believe St. James is a fabulous school. It provides exceptional academics in a loving Christian environment. From an early age, the students learn to love learning and continue to foster and develop their minds and their interests, be they on the cross-country team or the chess team. The class sizes are small so there is incredible attention and accountability. The teachers really know the kids and the kids all care about each other, no matter their similarities or differences. The students are very well prepared for high school and consistently get into their first choice of top tier schools. I feel strongly that St. James was an integral part of my children’s development spiritually and educationally through the opportunities provided in the classroom, on the playing field, on the stage and in the community.
My oldest child is in her 5th year at St. James and I couldn't be happier about the education, the community, (a researched based curriculum) and the extra curricular enrichments. The small class size (15) allows her teacher to really know her, her strengths, and how to foster all aspects of learning. The community of teachers and staff demonstrate a true committment to nurturing the whole student, with an emphasis on respect, the environment, and a christian perspective.
At one point, my husband and I had considered moving to the suburbs, but we made the choice to stay at St. James, so that our children could receive this quality education and life experience.
We have nothing but great things to say about St. James. Truth be told, we decided on St. James for Pre K mainly because of its location (we recently moved) and we were planning on going somewhere else for K. But after being there for a year, we decided to stay. We have loved everything about St. James. We looked into a lot of the other private schools in the city (Parker, Latin, St. Clements, FXW) so we know what is out there and we are still thrilled with the educational envoriment at St. James. I can't say enough wonderful things about our children's teachers (Miss. Buschle and MIss. Adams) as well as all of the parents we have met . I know there have been comments about kids leaving every year, but every private school as some attrition as families move to the suburbs or transfer children into their public schools. I also can't speak for the older grades, but we are there until our experience proves us otherwise.
As a graduate, I think the school has both its highs and lows. The highs are that its a great school if you want to be in in a small private school environment. I think the school lacks a rigorous curriculum that prepares students for Chicago's elite high schools. They also don't do a good job of preparing students for standardized tests. Some of the teachers care about their students, but some don't. It was even tough to talk to some teachers when you really needed to talk to them. Some teachers showed favoritism to certain students, and those same teachers were racist to minorities at the school. Teachers there would gossip a lot, and they didn't really give their students personal space. Some teachers also purposely were making sure certain kids were always in trouble. I witnessed this often. The school also doesn't properly discipline certain students. Kids were often being harmed physically and mentally that the staff was aware of and didn't do anything about it. Kids were even being forced to join extracurricular activities even if they didn't want to. There also weren't enough, interesting clubs for students to join. The school also didn't support their students.
Only two questions need to be asked: 1. Tell me about the Board of Education... how is the school governed? 2. How many families choose to move their students each spring? That will tell you all you need to know. There is a small hard-core group that offers unquestioning support there, but many many people come and go dissatisfied.
This school wasnt meant for my child. Number one, her 1st and 2nd grade class consisted of 40 children. Number 2, I at first thought that it was just a cute private school, but once my child hit second grade I pulled her out ASAP. The second grade teacher was awful at helping students and didnt even attempt helping. Once my student was in a new school she started off good, but once she got to a specific lesson, she started to do worse. and its all because of that second grade teacher named, Ms. Cornelius. SHe should be fired.
St. James is a sweet little school but there is no consistency year to year in the curriculum. They have trouble retaining students which means the budget isn't stable so so years you may have a language program and an art teacher when other years these programs seem to disappear. My child gets a loving environment every year (which we highly value) but that is the only constant they seem to offer.