My children spent two years at OSM before we were relocated to another part of the country. I found the parent politics were similar to most other private schools (tolerable but cliques certainly present). The teachers and staff were warm and caring. However, the academics were sub-standard to other private schools we have attended and my children's current public school. My children were happy with student and teachers there but left unchallenged and often bored.
Not a day goes by that I don't speak with a teacher from OSM or my own child's teacher- they make themselves very available to parents. Also- my daughter loves her kindergarten teachers and raves about them. If teachers were not effective- I would assume I wouldn't be hearing about them.
My daughter has been here for almost three years now. Some previous comments I must laugh at. First of all- the turn over rate is not that great. Plus- many of these are young teachers are getting started- they may move or get married and unfortunately have to leave. As for bullying - that goes on everywhere. My child has not experienced this yet. Some regular occurrences of children disagreeing have happened- but as her parent- IT IS MY JOB to correct the behavior and guide her on how to react. So contacting the parents is the good thing to do- if they choose to do nothing about it-well then at least you know who you are dealing with. It's called life. Academics are fantastic. The teachers are two to a room in pre-school and kindergarten. My daughter is excelling at reading and writing. And as a parent who IS NOT part of the parent clique- I get along just fine. It's called growing up - and being kind and if people don't want to talk to me- I see it as their loss. I am a huge fan of the Parish and the wonderful opportunities they offer to serve the needy and God.
Our child attended OSM. At the beginning (K-2nd) it was great. After Dr. Calihan left, it went downhill. I agree with the other rater(s) who said if you have money or connections, you'll do well. I also agree with the rater who mentioned the bullying. Funny thing is, it's the connected families that have the children who are bullies. My complaints (which fell on deaf ears because we weren't a part of the parent clique) were more specific such as uniform disparity, overcrowding and dirty politics. Uniform disparity: the school uniform policy isn't enforced and changes frequently...sometimes mid-year. We went from woven shirts to polos (in two different colors) mid-year. The gym uniform also changed (other "options" added) at a random time. Children also wear gym shoes with their school uniform on a regular basis even though it's a violation of policy. Overcrowding: students were eating lunch in their classrooms and cleaning their own desks. Not only is that unsanitary, but children need a break from sitting in the same room all day. Dirty politics: one or two families run the show. Don't cross them or they'll act like it's high school all over again. Basically, this is an expensive charter school because there's not too much that's like a traditional Catholic school. In fact, many of the families aren't even Catholic.
My son is about to complete his first year of Preschool at Old St. Mary's School and I have nothing but amazing things to say about it. Like many parents, my biggest concern was how my child would transition from being at home to school. Although my son was very resistant the first couple of days, he always came home in smiles. By the third day he was so excited to go to school, he didn't want to leave! He quickly became very comfortable with his teachers who encouraged him to expand his social skills and make friends with all of his classmates. The progress that the has made throughout this school year and knowledge he has gained is astonishing. The teachers really hone in on each child's interests. It's fun to hear your child come home speaking words in Spanish, have the opportunity to take home the class turtle for the weekend, or bring home their various art projects. Also, every month the preschoolers go on a field trip that parents are able to chaperone; the experience is more than rewarding for everyone. There are so many opportunities to volunteer and get involved. If you don't have the chance to attend the events, the teachers update their activities weekly on classroom blog. In comparison to many of the preschool programs in the South Loop, OSMS is very comparable in price. It is definitely similar to the price of Catholic school in the suburbs. In my opinion, it's worth it to know that your child is happy and thriving! We didn't expect to live in the neighborhood for much longer, but this school has made us reconsider. We can't imagine taking our son out of this school, it is a great program. We can't wait to see what the next few years have in store for us.
My child has been as this school for a few years. There has been a lot of mean/bullying behavior directed at my child over the past two years at least and with every incident the school "talks to the mean/bullying childs parents". Nothing ever changed. The school has nothing in place where they have consequences for such unacceptable behavior. No recess taken away, no detention, no expulsion.. nothing. They take no responsibility other than talking to the parents. They did go as far as bringing in an expert to talk to the children and the parents. Still the school has no policy of their own on consequences of bullying or mean behavior. My child has suffered for at least two years from the actions of the same kids constantly being mean, bullying and ostracizing. We have decided to place our child in another school that has no tolerance and has strict rules in place with regards to bullying and mean behavior. In talking to other parents, this is happening in other grades and they are also beginning to look outside of Old St Marys. I don't believe that the old principal Callahan would have stood for such behavior in her school. There is also a "parent clique" that goes on here. If you are not in the clique, you will never be acknowledged. They do not respond when you say hello at pick up or at functions. These are the parents that are on the PTA. The kids here follow in there parents footsteps. Cliques and mean behavior. Don't waste your money. Its a toxic enviroment. Take it to someone who has and has changed to a school that may be more expensive, but well worth it as there is a sense of community within this new school and my child is thriving there.
If you have a lot of money or connections, you will do good at OSM. If not, they probably won't accept you. I guess if you are paying $8,000+ per student, you have to be well off to go there not to mention the building fund donation and all the other "donations" you have to make. This school is perfect for those families who are well to do and have extra money to give to the school. If you are middle class you don't fit in. It is far from diverse unless of course you are a rich black or hispanic. Go for the "interview" and see for yourself.
Our daughter is now in kindergarten and previously attended OSM for two years of preschool. My wife and I can't say enough good things about this school, from the wonderful modern new building, to the excellent teachers, to the dedicated principal and staff, to the Catholic values taught there. But the best thing about OSM is the sense of community felt throughout ever aspect of the school. We are lucky to have such a wonderful school right in our neighborhood.