This is a safe place to share your honest opinions of a school, whether good or bad.
Charles E Smith Jewish Day School5
Posted January 06, 2014
- a parent
I have had three very different children go through the School with different personalities and needs. They have all graduated as very successful and confident kids and the school has supported their diverse strengths and individual needs. On a couple of occasions, we needed particular help and went to see the Headmaster who could not have been more accommodating and worked with the team to help us through. This has been true for the Upper School leaders and teachers as well (I am sure it is true of the lower school too but has been years since I was there.) There will always be people with individual issues with the School or who didn't like a decision of the Headmaster, Principal or teacher and they will use these forums to try and get back. Also, there are people who have had a genuinely bad experience. However, as you can see from the majority of these posts, great school, great teachers and community, great leadership.
I love my school! Not only is the curriculum outstanding and the teachers passionate, committed and caring, the school promotes and encourages good citizenship in every area of its curriculum. For example, last week the school asked its 4th-6th graders to raise money for Save a Child's Heart, an organization that brings indigent children suffering from heart disease to Israel for life-saving surgeries. My 9-yd-old son was so inspired, he woke up early Sunday morning to make fresh apple juice, homemade yogurt pops and cookies to sell in our neighborhood and raised more than $80. And, all of the credit goes to our phenomenal school which instills amazing values in our children. Each year, I have felt like the teachers are a 3rd parent in my boys' lives, partnering with us to raise kind and caring citizens! Thank you CESJDS!! And, the academics are fantastic. If your child craves a challenging curriculum, there are teachers who are rigorous and demanding. And, if your child needs a little more encouragement, there are nurturing, motivating teachers. It's truly a very special place!
We have three kids, of various ages, at CESJDS in the lower school, and overall are very pleased with the school. The Lower School is very focused on the quality of its secular academics, with a particular emphasis on the mathematics program. We have found the school to be very receptive to working with parents to tailor the experience for a given child, and very open to placing children in a classroom with a teacher suited to that kid. The school is not proactive but it is responsive and a lot of genuine warmth and love has been directed to our kids from the teachers and administrators. On the Jewish side of things, it is very important to understand that CESJDS is focused on teaching Judaics in Hebrew ("ivrit beivrit"). The quality of the Judaics teaching, however, is much higher if your child is in the advanced Hebrew classes (Hebrew is tracked after 2nd grade). If your child is in the lower Hebrew track, the Judaics curriculum can be very weak. A major upgrade to the "Judaics in English" teaching and curriculum is essential if the school is to hold onto observant kids. The school does instill a sense of love of Israel and the more sentimental aspects of Judaism.
As a product of Montgomery County Public Schools myself, I was somewhat skeptical about the value of a private education and the dual curriculum at JDS. After two years at the school, I have to say that I have done a complete 180 and cannot imagine a better education and community for my children and our family. I have two children at the school and have another entering this fall, and we have always had positive interactions with faculty, administrators and staff. The small class size and favorable teacher to student ratio has meant that my children have constant attention and support. My kids are not just learning secular and Judaic lessons, but values that are shaping them into caring, responsible people. When I see the upper school students- their maturity, accomplishments and kindness- I know we've made the right choice for our children's education.
We have been so impressed with and thrilled by the education and community at CESJDS. Our daughter is going into third grade and is having the most fantastic educational experience. The school is very developmentally appropriate; in Kindergarten they learn so much but in a fun way that they don't even realize that they are learning. There is no "busy work" and attention is paid to their social-emotional development as well as their academic skills. Each year builds on the last. Our daughter has been given support in areas where she struggled and has been pulled out for enrichment in areas where she was above grade level. The families are warm and welcoming and we have found a new community for our whole family which was unexpected but wonderful. We have another child coming into Kindergarten and cannot wait for her to experience the school.
I have been a JDS parent for a few years now. I moved my kids from another private school to JDS and it could not have been a better decision. I have 2 children. One has various learning needs and the other does not. We were welcomed to the community by parents, teachers and administrators and have felt supported throughout. I have found the administrators open and responsive to feedback and my children feel happy and more importantly loved by all their teachers. We are quite pleased with the academics as well as many of the specialty areas--my daughter loves her art teacher. We are glad we brought are kids to JDS.
JDS Lower School is totally disorganized and our older child wasted two of his four years. The teacher in third grade missed more than three months of class; the teacher in fourth grade missed more than four months of class. The administration did nothing. Basically our older child received very expensive child care for two years but little effective instruction.
I have 2 children at the lower school. They do not have the support - but they mislead my family into thinking they do - for learning disorders and learning disabilities. If I knew then what I know now, we would not be at Jds. We have speech and language therapy as well as nightly tutoring after the school day finishes in addition to the monthly exorbitant tuition which has increased every single year. There is no visible support or understanding from administrators. As with many other schools, teachers are excellent, midline and a few horrible experiences. But we were lucky to have a few sensational teachers! The school encourages a community feeling and provides many opportunities to give back and be involved in the classroom. Is it worth the money - no.
I have three children at the School and am thrilled with the education, responsiveness, teacher quality and leadership. My kids are all on different parts of the learning spectrum and they have benefited from the learning needs professionals and they have been challenged in many curricular areas.The School is unusual in that it listens to feedback, reviews and improves on curriculum quality. Lower School Math and Science and High School Hebrew have been revised in response to feedback and evaluation. As a family who receives financial assistance, I take issue with people who say that it is a school for the wealthy. From the Headmaster onward, we have been treated with dignity & respect and our needs and requests have been heard and well-handled. This is the experience of the hundreds of other families that I know. Of course not everything is perfect and some families use these websites to get back at a school if they don't like a decision or a person.However, most families who are part of JDS's warm community feel cared for and the kids are well educated. The teachers, leadership and even the facilities staff know our kids and look out for them. Thank you JDS!!
The school is generally good, but is clearly not all it could (and should) be. The school is excellent for kids in the middle 80%. However, for kids who need extra help or with learning or social issues, they will not find it a JDS. Also, the truly gifted kid will not be pushed to excell at JDS. The teachers are generally very good (some truly superb), but they are not supported by the administration (and there are too many adminstrators). The dual curriculum is challenging, but the administration is generally not open to innovative ideas from faculuty and parents regarding changes to the program. Parent input is not welcome unless you are a signifcant donor. The student body is wonderful and much more supportive of each other than you find at most schools. The 3 month program in Israel at the end of the senior year is wonderful, a magical time in which seniors grow closer and experience living on their own (great preparation for college), while learning all about the history, geography and people of Israel.