Quest has changed our lives. 4 years ago my son was struggling at a public school in Oak Park, Il. We had him tested and found that his IQ was that of only 2% of the world. He just wasn't being challenged or stimulated at that public School. He was also put in speech therapy at that school. After 3 months at Quest he was speaking Mandarin and Spanish. He went from remedial Math to Algebra and now Geometry. Quest Academy has help him support his ideas and goals as well as shown him that he has a voice and a willing spirit to achieve the impossible. I wish I could do my education all over again at Quest. 5 Stars +++. I've raised 4 other kids in private schools but never have I seen a independent school, teachers, support staff and a Head of School like Dr. Kirkland. This place is AMAZING!
We have been at Quest for seven years, and I am sad to say that the school has changed a lot (for worse) in the past couple of years. We see a big difference in the education received at the same grade level by our children who are three years apart. Quest's strength used to be its teachers and students, but there has been massive degradation in both. Enrollment has dropped 30%, and 10 (or more) teachers have left the school in the last 2 years (including the teacher mentioned in a recent review below). Multiple grades lost close to half of the students which effectively eliminated the need for a classroom at a few grade levels. At one time, the science curriculum and teacher were its greatest strength, but after losing two science teachers two years in a row this program has been reduced to a farce. In an attempt to create an impression that children are learning advanced concepts, material from one grade level higher is taught, but its coverage and understanding remain limited to "buzz words" and students are left severely lacking in concepts. This creates a serious situation where the knowledge foundation is weak, parents feel students are being prepared, however the students struggle with even the basic concepts which don't get covered fully. This poses bigger issues when students transition to public school later. Certain parents have taken the approach of providing parallel education to their kids through Kumon but that just defeats the purpose of being in an expensive, gifted school. Also, the school environment shelters the students which hinders them from successfully blending in socially, and students struggle in larger groups when they don't get one on one attention. Although students of all financial backgrounds attend the school, there is clearly prioritization and attention given to families that are affluent, or have multiple children attending the school and donate generously at the annual auction. We are going to examine the gifted program in our district, which also has a competitive curriculum and is also free of cost.
We had not imagined we'd be in this position. Our son started reading when he was 2. We were not sure what to do when it was time to send him to Kindergarten. Our local public schools were of no help. Kindergarten there would be shapes, colors, numbers. He was already doing addition, subtraction, and reading chapter books on his own. We researched every option we could find. We never thought we'd be paying tuition for elementary school, and many people told us we were crazy - including close family members.
He has been at Quest for 3 years now and is thriving. He developed a passion for words and spelling after watching the spelling bee in Kindergarten. Each year since his teachers have gone out of their way to support this interest. This year he won the all school spelling bee as a 2nd grader! The support of everyone at the school was very special to us. He went on to compete in the district bee and was the only kid who looked to be having fun up there. The presentations he has done at school helped prepare him well.
His little brother started pre-K there this year. The teachers in that room are amazing. The room literally transforms with the subjects they are studying. The reading techniques they teach are great too. You can see the passion the teachers have for what they are doing.
The hardest thing to put into words is how this school serves the needs of these very curious kids while still letting them be kids. They can advance as much as they desire to, yet still be themselves and play. It is truly remarkable, and I believe you have to experience it to understand it. I know more than one family who left to try another school, and then ended up coming back in the same year. Quest is a genuine place working in the best interest of the kids. We are very grateful for the education our boys are receiving there.
My husband and I often talk about what an outstanding teacher our son has at Quest. Here are just a couple recent examples:
My son had been struggling with reading. It caught us by surprise. Even more so, it caught HIM by surprise. And the classic gifted child perfectionism/fixed mindset stuff all came to the fore. At home, he was resisting reading. He was saying, "I can't read" a lot. We were keeping things upbeat, but we just weren't getting through. Then his teacher, Mrs. Skwirut, performed an assessment of him and saw he'd regressed since the holiday break. And so she had a discussion with him about it. I do not know what she said to him. I do not know if magic potions were involved. All I know is, my child went from hating reading (and ready frustration) to being on fire to improve. His shift in attitude was remarkable. He also readily agreed to use his precious 20 minutes of daily screen time at home to play educational reading games Mrs. Skwirut recommended. (Seriously, he gave up his beloved video games to find sight words.) And then, two weeks later, we get an email from Mrs. Skwirut saying our son read an entire page from a magazine aloud to his class. This is huge! Major progress. Mrs. Skwirut reports she almost cried. My husband's almost crying. I am in a puddle. And it all goes back to whatever Mrs. Skwirut said to our child. The connection she's built with him. And the way she "gets" him in the most positive sense.
And then there's Valentine's Day. Until Quest, our son never really liked school. Or teachers. This from a kid who loves to learn, a kid who falls asleep at night talking about electrical circuits or dwarf planets or the ethics of the death penalty (please, don't ask how we got on that one). Fast forward to the last few nights as my son lay in bed planning the valentine he wanted to make for Mrs. Skwirut. "Mom, we need to find a sign that says 'I love you to pieces,' okay? Because, mom, I LOVE Mrs. Skwirut! And mom, how many raffle tickets can we buy, because I really, really want to win Mrs. Skwirut's raffle, mom."
It's hard to describe just what it means to see these kinds of changes in your child, but we are very grateful for them, for all the faculty at Quest and most of all for Mrs. Skwirut and the amazing difference she's making in our child's life.