I would not recommend this school for middle school unless you have a highly and globally gifted child who is self motivated. Their is a lack of leadership and educational supports. Parents are expected to be involved, especially because their are many complex projects to be completed. Unless your child is able to keep up with the homework, extracurricular activites are not possible.
This is our forth year at Sycamore and we love it. We have had three 'excellent' head teachers and one 'very good' head teacher along with many excellent special subject teachers. Our son comes home excited everyday about what he learned and experienced that day. The challenging curriculum could be a bit too demanding for some children: after all, it is a school for 'gifted kids'. However, we find the school and staff very welcoming, nurturing and supportive. Parent involvement is expected, as with any good school. It IS NOT just 'books focused'. There is a strong focus on the arts and music. Team sports, individual sports, and other extracurricular activities are encouraged to ensure children are 'well-rounded'. Sycamore helps teach children how to think and solve problems. It provides a great foundation for children to succeed in high school, college and beyond.
Sycamore is a good PreK, K, and lower school. Note what I didn't say.
Most parental feedback is positive for Sycamore students up through 3rd grade. After that, the intense academic focus and need for children to 'exceed to succeed' creates incredible pressure for children who are not equally gifted across the disciplines. Teaching styles vary, but generally the approach is traditional--lecture...test. By late middle school, students are performing at least two grade levels above their age, requiring intense parental involvement to support students so they don't fall behind. Be aware that once 8th graders graduate, many area high schools make them repeat much of this advanced coursework. Weak leadership creates a lack of purposeful direction and curriculum innovation, however, a new headmaster is set to take over for 2006-2007. Parents are highly educated and tend to be overly involved just to see that things happen for their kids.
We are in the middle of our first year at Sycamore (Kindergarten). I couldn't be more pleased! He has such a good time and is learning so much. He has a great sense of ownership and I love the way so many people know him by name.
Sycamore is a community where parents and teachers are invested in their kids' lives.
Sycamore School offers an outstanding academic program for gifted students. Parental involvement is encouraged for activites which supplement the curriculum. My experience as a parent of both a current student and graduate has been very positive. At Sycamore, students are challenged to think at a deeper level and are motivated by their peers. Nightly homework and periodic projects can be extensive, but students are rewarded for their efforts. Teachers consistently write in-depth comments on report cards and are readily available for conferences. Students and parents are respected by the administration and staff. My graduate's Sycamore experience was one of stretching academically, respecting authority, and accepting students of varying personalities, backgrounds and talents. The small size of each grade level contributes to the welcoming atmosphere of the school and encourages families to become well acquainted.
Sycamore is a great concept for differentiated learning for gifted kids. Unfortunately, the hierarchy of administration is very disappointing. Parents would love to be involved because parents started the school but administration keeps it at a polite minimum and in fact is offended when any criticism is made whatsoever. Kids leave Sycamore very well prepared academically for high school but have very negative feelings about it by the time they finish 8th grade. I feel this is mainly due to the 'expected' expectations and little acknowledgment of everyday successes. The teaching staff also varies from outstanding to very poor and is inconsistent. There are even classrooms where aids teach full time when liscenced teachers are absent or off on leave for extended periods of time. The entire focus is academic. Physical, emotional, social, and spiritual developement is overlooked.
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