I didn't want to go to Sandy Spring Friends when my parent first suggested it. I didn't want to leave my other school, but my parents didn't think I was getting a very good education there. I am happy to say that my parents were right to enroll me at Sandy Spring. I learned more than I had dreamed- so much more than I think I would have anywhere else. The knowledge I obtained goes far beyond academics. Although I was able to take AP classes and was always challenged by the curriculum, it's the ancillary benefits of attending SSFS that have made me the person I am. I was able to travel to interesting places, immersing myself in other cultures. I had classes with students from other countries everyday. I was able to participate in sports that I would have been cut from at a larg school. I learned the beauty of silence. The teachers genuinely cared about the person I was becoming, offering advice along with academics. They also appreciated the things that made me unique in a way I hadn't experienced at my old school. If you're looking for a school that provides more than just AP classes and high-pressure testing, but engages students in a variety of activities, look to SSFS!
I don't know what that other student is talking about. Sounds like a pretty unhappy person, I'm really sorry they have had this experience. But all I can say is I've been here for 5 years, started in the lower school, went through middle school, now in upper school. I used to go to a good public school in MoCo, did fine there and had friends, got good grades, etc. But the academics weren't that interesting and when kids were bullied, nobody really did anything. At SSFS, the teachers make all of the subjects really interesting, they totally involve us students in the learning, and they definitely expect us to be kind to each other, I have NEVER seen anyone here be "bullied." Kids are mean sometimes, sure, but the difference here is that the teachers work with us CONSTANTLY (honestly sometimes it's a little annoying how much!) on how to be kind to each other and take care of our community and the world around us. I love it here, it is like my second family.
We have had four children at SSFS in each of the three divisions for the past 5 years. I am a teacher at another area school, and I researched SSFS very thoroughly before sending my kids there. In the past five years, I have watched each if my children grow exponentially as kind and thoughtful friends, engaged and creative thinkers, and committed, caring members of society. I am 100% thrilled with this school and it's consistently excellent teachers, exacting yet creative and developmentally appropriate curriculum, and commitment to service learning and social justice.
Teachers have been there for years and are not current in professional development. The school has a tendency to hire alumni or family of alumni, who teach the way they were taught . Rather than according to standards and practice. There is little oversight and/or guidance for the faculty because there is a shell of administrative support staff. Suddenly this year, the school has linked some of their upper school curricular content directly to the Common Core outcomes, but few of the faculty have the skills to teach the Common Core because they are not required to learn it or keep current in learning theory. I have heard it is because they are trying to get reaccredited. The school has never functioned as a school with an integrated and implemented curriculum at least for the years our kids were there.
Two of our children attended the Lower School at SSFS. We had an inconsistent experience at the school. The pros: the art and music programs, the beautiful campus, the interaction between the divisions (Lower School, Middle School, Upper School), the focus on service to community and the environment and the time spent engaging with nature. The cons: lack of accountability from the teachers, persistent behavior problems in the classes, lack of differentiation in very small classes, weak math and science instruction. The new head of the Lower School has addressed many of these issues and has made changes to the math curriculum and discipline policies, but some of the veteran teachers pay lip service to those changes at best. K and 2nd grade have outstanding faculty and solid teaching and classroom management; other classes are less positive experiences both socially and academically. The parent group is not particularly involved with a small group of parents who contribute a lot of time and energy and a large group who do very little. Classes are small which seems great on the surface but makes it hard for kids to be part of meaningful academic and social groups.
Sandy Spring Friends Middle School. There are many things to love about SSFS, but the middle school has some challenges. The academic quality ranges from outstanding to poor so it can be hit or miss. After years of complaints, nothing has been done about it; the same teachers are kept for whatever reason although many, many parents have complained. ALL of the teachers are good human beings, but some for some, teaching is a challenge! Unfortunately, the head of the middle school prefers appeasing the teachers to addressing concerns of the parents, so the previous feeling of community that was a strong point of the entire school has been diluted. It is a beautiful campus, with many wonderful people who care deeply for the school and its students, but the Middle School program definitely needs some work!