Oh Baker. I'm not one to leave reviews, but I found this website helpful when deciding where to send my own children to school and in the effort of helping others decide, I will share some of my opinions.
Baker is a progressive school, and is largely play based. My experience and opinion of the school was up and down throughout the year, but I was finally dissatisfied with my son's class. While they boast being open and progressive, I found that the teachers barely paid any attention to the social dynamics between the children, so that bullying isn't an issue-- only because it goes unnoticed. I had moments where I would watch the kids playing on the playground-- the teachers would stand around like park nanny's barely watching and chatting among themselves.
I suspect part of it was simply a bad fit-- if the idea is that kids will raise themselves and grow into well rounded, kind, and smart people by playing together in an unstructured way (much of which is consumed by talking on and on about whatever movie is popular at the time)-- then maybe I'm just not convinced by the argument. In our experience what actually took place was that some kids acted up and many had behavioral issues, teachers simply were not equipped to keep the place in control, and administration just assumed ("trusts") that teachers can go at it alone-- maybe because they don't have any other ideas, or possibly out of laziness. We did not find that that created an exciting, stimulating, or safe environment for our son and chose another school that offers all of those things to their students.
We've been at Baker for seven years, and every year I leave our Fall Teacher Conference - less than two months into the school year - thinking, "How did they "get" her so fast?" My child is not an extrovert or attention-seeker. A teacher (or any adult) has to be really watchful of a child - truly observant at the individual level - to understand them at the level the teachers at Baker have, every single year. I love dropping her off and knowing she's not just going into the shuffle.
This is our second year at Baker and we have found it to be a stimulating and nurturing environment for our daughter. The progressive philosophy is evident when you enter the building. Walking through the hallways will give the visitor a peak into lively classrooms that are child focused (they have tables instead of desks) and filled with active learning. Community is very important at this school and children work cooperatively as they learn.
Our children love Baker! Kindergarten for our older child at a public school did not inspire a love of learning. Baker's kindergarten has a friendly, loving, and stimulating environment focused on all areas of development. Baker s philosophy (experiential, integrated, developmentally appropriate) and freedom from state and federal mandates allow teachers to be creative and flexible in their teaching. Baker students get to be children: recess, choice time, and family time after school (minus hours of homework). Instead of tickets to motivate positive behavior, Baker students reflect on the type of community they want to create. Overall, our older daughter has been challenged in all academic areas through progressive learning and has found opportunities for leadership. As a young independent school, Baker has had bumps in the road. They are not yet equipped to support children with significant learning or behavior challenges. As with any school, there are inconsistencies in the teaching. We hope these issues improve in coming years. Meanwhile, we are grateful for a top-notch P.E. program, the arts, service-learning opportunities, and flexible before and after school care.
I agree with other reviewers regarding the disorganization of the school. Our child was being relentlessly bullied and we worked tirelessly with teachers and administration to resolve the issues. The principal was disinterested at best, and we decided to leave Baker. It is also sad that there are reviewers in this forum who would bash the rights of other reviewers to speak honestly about their experience just because it doesn't resonate with their own. It's pretty unfair to call people liars or assume they didn't attempt to resolve the issues they were experiencing through the correct channels, because I know we did in our case, and all it lead to was frustration.
This school will not inform you if it is suspected your child has learning disabilities or needs that cannot be met by the resources at Baker. I was told (by their reading specialist) that because they do not provide testing they are not allowed to recommend testing or they would be financially responsible. It seems awfully seedy and HIGHLY unethical to allow a child to fall through the cracks on the basis of unfounded fear.
My daughter goes to Baker, and I can only say that I wish I had sent all of my children- why did I wait so long to find this wonderful school? She is well cared for, educated and known. The staff and students are so respectful of our family's differences and they celebrate it! She is so excited about what she is learning, and I could not be happier. No school, no job, no life is perfect everyday, but this school helps the children to embrace the struggle, and become lifelong learners. I would recommend this school to anyone!
My children have attended schools in different places and for the FIRST time, they are thoroughly enjoying school every single day at Baker. Some schools do not suit the child or the child doesn't suit the school. I have seen many sides to this school. This is a school full of hugely passionate, hard working teachers and staff who go to work every day aiming to make it the best day for their students. At the heart of it, it is what the large majority of the school's population feel about their education and their day to day experience that counts. It is a wonderfully diverse, accepting population and the children love the act of learning because of the way they are taught to embrace it. One of my more hard to please children came home 2 days ago to show me how much he now loves math. He showed me equations, various ways to find the correct answer, and the activities done in class to simulate the mathematical situation. Brilliant! Schools won't always get it right. But from the heart, this is a school that cares for its people, and a staff that work hard to give it their very best. And I can see the proof of this through my children's development, confidence and happiness.
Today, we can say that Baker is an excellent school, why? My son has a team of teachers very knowledgeable and great human beings. Our son is in 6 grade and he has been in Baker since he was in Prekindergarten. Our son is Latino, bi-cultural, bi-lingual and from an immigrant family. He was not fluent in English when he started at Baker, because he stayed at home with a Latina babysitter, and we spoke Spanish at home. While, these could be difficult for some private and public schools, for Baker it was a plus. We have been able to communicate with Baker's administration and teachers about our son learning educational goals as well as to advocated for the improvement of the Spanish program. Based on our family experiences in Baker, we can say, that if we have to choose school again, we will choose Baker.
Be very careful before deciding to enroll your child here. I would give one star for the beautiful facilities and one star for their expensive but fun summer program. Otherwise I have little positive to say about my family's experience. I should have known there would be trouble when my child's teacher, during our orientation meeting, contradicted my own observations about my daughter (whom she had yet to meet) and dismissed concerns I raised about race (my child is African American). After struggling with this teacher for three months I was at my wits end, as was my daughter who would often sob at the end of the school day. I finally broached the idea of withdrawing my child and Baker s principal and director of education gave me no option but to keep her in her existing class, which was a social free for all with ineffectual instruction. I paid 95% of the year s tuition though my daughter only attended for 3.5 months. Baker's administrators revealed a callous disregard for my child's well-being and education. Parents would be better served choosing another school.