The character education starts in Kindergarten with ethical "pillars" built on academics, civility, community. The easiest way for me to remember it is: respect, responsibility and relationships.
The consistency of the character pillars comes through in the behavior and effort by students, staff and parents.
This is a warm, welcoming, diverse community.
The children are respectful and communicative without being motivated by penalties. They make eye-contact with adults, say "hello", "thank you", and "maybe I can help you".
Many private schools motivate the student body using rules, penalties, traditions. Greenmount employs a short list of ethical ideas to motivate students to respect themselves & their community, build healthy relationships, and take responsibility for their effort and behavior. The results are impressive.
The parent community is welcoming and supportive. Families develop relationships across the grades through the co-operative education model of participation. (Handy with tools? Fix a cabinet. Like aquariums? Help with the fish tank, etc. Musical instrument experience? Help with a club or lessons.)
The staff are engaged and the head-of-school is present and involved with the kids, parents, staff, board and community.
The office, facilities, and admissions process are well organized and run efficiently.
The afterschool program is fantastic. Its reasonably priced, includes clubs, music lessons, foreign language, study hall, indoor & outdoor play and arts.
My children are engaged with what they're learning at Greenmount. The classes are small, which means the teachers know each student. We previously attended a Baltimore public school and then an exclusive Baltimore private school, but our experience at Greenmount surpasses both.
We enrolled in the 2015/16 school year and the leadership has been excellent.
The head-of-school is present with the students, staff, board and parents. She's cheerful and clear about objectives, constraints and options.
As a result, we feel respected as part of the school community - more then simply clients.
The assignments that are distributed in class are followed by an email to the parents explaining the current week's work and objectives. This is helpful.
My kids don't spend hours on their homework and weekday evenings run smoothly.
The GreenMount school has been an absolutely wonderful experience for my child and the teaching staff has been utterly incredible. The Math and Language Arts Education in particular are tip top. The faculty is extremely kind and super nurturing.
GMS has been a 5-star school for us. It has changed over time, which is not necessarily a bad thing. There is, though, a lack of transparency and back and forth communication that in the past was open and encouraged. Noticeably absent are weekly head of school communications, parent/teacher curriculum committee, year-end survey (which was way too long = low reply rate, then rethink it!).
The many staff changes underway, including that of our admissions director, a longtime GMSer, with only a letter to communicate this has parents rightfully concerned.
The comment the lower school is great while the upper school is not, does not hold true for our experience. It is rigorous and there is a learning curve making 6th grade a challenge, but my child is now able to delve into a subject, debate and critically think through both sides of an issue, write a comprehensive /informed paper, time manage a project, and even find something deemed "uninteresting" actually is interesting. Special programs round out student's experience: service learning, study skills, camping trips, apprenticeships, and an 8th grade trip (Costa Rica canceled without much communication, but thanks to 8th grade parents a trip to Utah turned out great, yay parents!)
For a school that doesn't do high stakes testing our students test very well, get admitted to the high schools of their choice, and more importantly excel.
Unique, a bit quirky, affordable, parent involved, this is what has drawn diverse families to GMS. While change happens and can be good, if the long held culture and mission of GMS becomes more about the school building, milking parents for money (which seems escalate each year) while voices are being stilled, the question is: will we become just another private school? That would absolutely break my heart.