This is a terrific school! The community is amazing and the children actively participate in their own learning.
Baker is an oasis, teaching in a way that helps children find their passion, enjoy the process of learning, and learn to problem solve in the way that adults do in their jobs. Academic outcomes of Baker kids are very strong, and yet children still learn to problem solve, to find their interests and pursue them, and to self-motivate.
A focus on socialization, progressive learning models, small class sizes. It sounds like a dream come true, right? The only problem is that not all teachers adhere to the standards. My experience has been we'll have three great years, then we'll have a year stuck with a new teacher who still thinks they're at a Chicago Public school--rigidity and lack of creativity. Luckily, we've had more good teachers than bad. A couple of people complained in comments that it's not academically challenging enough for their kids. I know these parents and they're the ones who want rocket scientist kids--I assure you they don't have rocket scientist kids; my son has a child in his class with a genius IQ and he is challenged every day. Baker meets the demands of above-average to incredibly gifted students. I would say that kids who are "average" students tend to flounder at Baker. Most kids are reading proficiently by Kindergarten and leave eighth grade with an excellent grasp on Latin, high level math and science. And the reason I chose Baker in the first place? Daily P.E. and recess. The kids need it and the schools which provide this are fewer and farther between every year.
We have three children at Baker and are thrilled with our experience. Our children are excited about school and learning. They are mastering the necessary skills and developing a broad fund of knowledge. The teachers and administration are caring and deeply invested in the children and the school. We could not be more pleased!
Like the other poster, we are waiting for additional change to move this school back to what it was 10 years ago. Our kids are more creative based but we worry that they won't get the basics for high school. The teaching approach varies, with some so focused on being out of the box they don't prepare kids for basic science, math, reading, etc. At some point kids have to move to high school and the real world. I would compare curriculum carefully...and look at test scores.
Our kids love Baker. They are excited about learning. When they leave school, it is apparent, they have found ways to continue to hold on to the lessons learned.It's not unusual to hear Spanish songs being sung from the kitchen or to observe the recreation of an innovate game from phys ed. When I found myself engaged in a discussion with my 7 year old about whether any other penguin, but an Emperor penguin would meet the height requirements for rides at Great America, I knew he was making the information his own. And when my older son was as excited about the "Battle of the Books" as he was to compete in a basketball game, I knew Baker was the right place for our kids.
We're surprised at the teacher turnover in the past few years and the difference in the way teaching is applied. Some classes are good, while others are lackluster. It really depends on how your child learns, but there is such a wide gap from grade to grade. Not sure what middle school holds, as many teachers there are new.
We have two children at Baker - a middle schooler and one in the elementary grades. The Baker experience for both my kids has been amazing. The middle school structure - with traveling groups, advisories is a wonderful way to prepare kids for high school. Middle school is a rigorous program that really prepares Baker kids for high school. Many Baker kids move straight to honors and AP classes in high school. I am surprised at the comments that mention free flowing and lack of testing and weak math programs at Baker. I have found that there is a lot of rigor in the curriculum. Baker fosters creativity and an integrated comprehensive approach to learning. Thematic units allow for deeper exploration of key topics, weaving in language arts, drama, music, art, math and social studies. Writing workshops at the 2nd and 3rd grades are "fun" because kids create their own stories and write poetry but in the process are taught to think and reflect. Math homework includes problem solvers and playing math games with friends and parents which ensure that you build critical thinking skills and review basic fundamentals in an effective manner. Baker has been an fantastic experience for us.
This is our third year at Baker, and we have been impressed with the quality of education; dedication of teachers, staff, and the board; and the emphasis on how the "whole child" learns. My children are still little, but they get to interact with older kids, and I have seen how Baker faculty and staff foster kindness, generosity, and service each year in each kid. Not only that, but children are taught *how to think.* I was a good student when I was in school, but "book smart." I would have loved to go to a school that got me thinking creatively from Day One, and I am so glad my kids get to experience that at Baker.
This school works for those of us who don't want a lot of academic pressur. The focus is on free flowing creative work, but not on testing and keeping up with the North Shore school systems. My kids like it, but I do wonder how we fare without much testing. Could be a concern when we get to middle school and have to think about study habits, high school, etc.
I, also, am surprised by the recent negative reviews. We have had our two daughters at Baker going on 8 years, and have ridden the ups and downs of the school's transition to independence and search for strong leadership. We couldn't be happier that we hung in when times were tough. The current Head of School has a deep understanding of what progressive education is and can be, and is gracefully bringing that to bear at Baker. Both old and new staff seem to view him with great respect, as do the parents I know. Enthusiasm at the student, teacher, admin and parent level are the highest we've experienced. We are particularly pleased with the increased focus and funding for science and technology at all levels, as well as the new Spanish teacher. The Middle School faculty, many of them relatively new, have been very impressive, and we are thrilled to have our eldest daughter come home excited to teach us about Latin! While it is easy to get stuck in the mindset of times gone by, truth be told, Baker has entered a new era of growth and dynamism which is palpable to those who experience it.
Math and science are major weak spots at this school. We thought middle school would improve, but there is so little focus on the fundamentals. At some point you need structure and some way to measure what you are getting. Not much testing so we can know.
I am a current parent at Baker with one child in Middle School and one in the primary grades. I'm thrilled and impressed by the current leadership. In fact, I'm surprised at the harsh reviews of October 22. The parents I've spoken with are really excited about the health, dynamism and direction of the school. It's true, it took Baker some time to get this leadership team in place, but the current line-up is stronger than it's ever been. Further, the quality of education, particularly at the current middle school, far outshines what my oldest son experienced in the public school system.
We have been extremely pleased with our Baker experience. After struggling in a public school, our daughter has thrived at Baker because of competent and dedicated teachers, differentiated instruction, and an incredible student:teacher ratio. On the occasions that I've met with the head of school, he's been thoughtful and engaged. He clearly loves children and can often be found in the classroom. This school is a gem.
I continue to be amazed by what students are doing, every day, at Baker. My own children have never been more engaged in school, nor enjoyed school so much, as they do now. If you are considering a thoughtful, progressive approach to education for your child, visiting Baker should be your first step. Don't take others' word for it, come see for yourself the incredibly special school that Baker is for students and families alike.
Please come to hear the Baker-hosted series on Progressive Education open to all and free of charge. Noted scholars and educators such as Bena Kallick, author of Habits of Mind: Teaching and Assessing What Matters, will present topics for educators and parents. First one is 10/24/11 with local professor Linda Tafel, "Nurturing the Soil & Sowing the Seeds of Progressive Education in Chicago..." Thanks to our excellent faculty and our nationally-acclaimed Head of School, Baker is connected to current discussions, and bringing the best practices into the classrooms.
Baker has arrived as an outstanding independent school. I have had two children at the school for the past six years. While there were several changes with the head of school and with some of the front office staff during that time, the teaching quality remained excellent which is why we stuck it out. Those glitches have been ironed out. Communication is clear and the faculty and administration are highly accessible and committed to the development of all aspects of my children. Baker is a very special school and community of which to be a part.
Our daughter will be starting her fourth year at Baker and we could not imagine a better school. She loves going to school, thrives in an academic environment that challenges her and listens to her. In first grade, the class was interested in pirates, her teacher researched and found that Illinois had pirate! The kids built a pirate ship while learning about tall tales and the facts of how America was settled. We love Baker for our daughter and as a family (the community is wonderful).
My family's experience at Baker has been extremely positive. Our kids have consistently had incredible teachers AND associate teachers. They have thrived at Baker, and we will continue to stay at Baker not because it's convenient but because we love it. My advice to prospective families: ignore the comments from a few disgruntled parents and go check out Baker for yourself.
My children have had the experience of both another private school as well as the public school system. There is no comparison to what Baker offers in every way and at every level, Pre-K through middle school. From their strategic thinking skills to their test scores to the way they approach their peers and the world around them, I am consistently impressed by what my children have acheived at the hand of Baker and their dedicated, experienced faculty.
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The Community Rating is the school’s average rating from its community members (e.g., parents, students, and school staff). The highest possible rating is five stars; the lowest is one star.
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