The teachers at this school care about students. The teachers who lead the Science Olympiad and Math team clubs are energetic, inspiring and generally outstanding. The team of teachers assigned to my student coordinate together and genuinely knew my students well.
Assigning the right amount of homework is tricky. The school does not want students to be overwhelmed or stressed; yet, at the same time, teachers and parents want to ensure that junior high students are prepared for the rigor of high school. I think WJHS does a solid job of striking a balance. Students are placed on teams so that the teachers of each student's different subjects have some coordination as far as when big projects and tests are scheduled. This is helpful so that students do not have (for example) a U.S. Constitution exam during the same time period as a large science project. By the end of 8th grade, my students were very well prepared for high school -- much more than students from other sender schools into New Trier High School.
This school, and District 39 generally, has made a visible and strong commitment to social-emotional learning. The characteristics of successful learners, including perseverance, grit, resilience, and determination, are top of mind and integrated into the curriculum and the school day. The district supports and helps facilitate a "Community Review Committee", which is a district-sponsored initiative comprised of parents, administrators and teachers who research, report and make recommendations on a different educational topic each year. For several years, this committee has highlighted the importance of characteristics of successful learners.
My students had a great experience at WJHS, and the middle school (Highcrest). The principals and teachers were impressive in their depth of knowledge regarding academics, educational innovations and the social pressures of tweens/teens. They felt supported and were definitely felt prepared to succeed at New Trier High School after graduating from junior high. They learned a lot at WJHS and talk fondly of their time at the junior high.
I've had two children move from WJHS to New Trier, and one more on the way. Coming from WJHS, my children were 100% prepared for the rigors of high school. And, they confided to me that they felt like kids from WJHS were more prepared than students from other "sender districts". WJHS is indeed a fairly big school with 800+ students in 7th and 8th grade. But, despite the size, I always felt the teachers knew my children very well. My observation is also that the size may be an advantage in terms of WJHS students being well-acclimated to a larger student body when they move on to big high schools in our area (e.g., NTHS, Loyola). The teachers, the facilities/resources and principal are all very impressive. The academic rigor and learning environment has exceeded our expectations.
Amazing school. Team 7b are smart, caring and enthusiastic teachers. They really care about their kids and give them to opportunity to work to their fullest potential. The curriculum is advanced compared to other schools and prepares the students for high school and beyond. Much of the credit goes to the Principal, Dave Palzet. He is progressive and really listens to the parents. Totally worth paying the outrageous property taxes in Wilmette!
While the education and curriculum is very good, there are some issues on the way this school is run. First of all, the school puts a lot of money into anti-bullying programs that are useless due to a basically 0% of bullying at this school. Because of this, most of the teachers are blinded. Really it just gives students a chance to tattle. If they just say exactly what the program says to say, they can get the other student in trouble. This also leads to the Merits/Demerits. If a teacher gets a student in trouble when not at fault, when the student tries to say something, the teacher just checks another box saying, "Talks Back". When trying to get a merit (reward) students just get obnoxious. Only newer teachers or long term subs get these problems. Some of them even skip the anti-bullying curriculum because they know the students really don't get much out of it other than boredom. On the good side, some of the teachers are great and give support such as staying after school for 2 more hours so students can get help or study for a test. Money wise, this school also replaces APPLE technology every 2 years but still, there are no good, working drinking fountains.
This school is wonderful! Most of the staff is very good & cares about the students. They keep bullying to a minimum. Communications are outstanding. The kids can log into their class website & parent's can track their kids grades weekly if desired. I can't imagine a better school for my kids & feel very comfortable recommending this school to anyone! There are advanced classes remedial classes & everything in between. My daughter has ADHD & needs extra math support. We love the Academic Strategies (AS) option for kids that have executive functioning difficulties. An LBS works with a few kids during this period, to help organize their work, reteach difficult concepts & work on long term projects. Her LBS (Megan Spellman) was outstanding. There are so many options offered that other kids don't notice the pullouts. Her teachers were very supportive & understanding, with the exception of a surly science teacher. I am also very impressed with the principal Dave Palzet. He is capable, kind & approachable & the kids really like him. He is frequently seen roaming the hallways & greeting students. WJHS offers a ton of after school clubs & free before & after school study sessions.