My family was very lucky to find this diamond. Warm community, excellent administration and teachers. My son spent two years at Grace and we are very fortunate to have had the Grace experience. I've questioned private schools especially during the early years, and honestly my opinion has swayed. I personally got some what lost during my grade school experiences. With the small classroom sizes and excellent attentiveness your child will not get lost as some may in a public school. This was my first experience with an independent school and I really appreciated the help with moving on to middle school. Grace has an excellent music program and the athletics has been instrumental to my son’s development. Although our son graduated this past year we'll continue to support GEDS.
Both of my children have attended Grace, and we couldn't be happier with the experience. Although the school went through a rough patch when the Head of School left after many years and the community struggled through a long search process, the new Principal, Malcolm Lester, is absolutely first rate. The school does an excellent job of providing an education comparable to the "fancy" private schools - in fact several of Grace's teachers have come from places like Beauvoir -- but Grace is much more down to earth and diverse than many other private schools in the area. Both of our kids read at least two grade levels above their current grade, thanks to good teaching, but they also WANT to read and really love learning. They are also able to name what they are feeling and deal well with conflict in a remarkably mature way. The parents form a loving and supportive community. I want to second another parent's comment below that bullying is really nipped in the bud. Grace is the place.
While we had a wonderful experience in the 3's class, we had a very negative experience in the pre-K (4s) class last year. Children were labled early on as good or bad, and all but two of the six boys in the class were asked not to return for kindergarten. When the parents asked to meet with administrators as a group to discuss classroom dynamics and why so many of the boys had been labeled as having behavior problems and referred for psychological evaulation, the administration flat-out refused our request and we were advised that the Board supported that decision. In the space of a few months, our daughter went from a bright, fun-loving, energetic child to one who hated going to school because she was tired of always being in trouble. Notably, all of the so-called "trouble-makers" are now doing wonderfully in various public schools in the area and have not had behavior problems. Quite frankly, we feel we wasted a lot of money sending our daughter to Grace last year. It is still hard for me to comprehend how 2 teachers were unable to handle 10 children. I would not recommend the pre-K program to anyone.
This is our second year at Grace's lower school and our child genuinely loves it. The teachers we've had contact with have been warm and thoughtful, interested in each child as an individual. The curriculum is very well balanced, with an emphasis on play, movement, music, and all the things small children should be doing. It's refreshing to see a curriculum that's actually based on child development. We really enjoy the other children and families in our child's class; the school community is friendly and welcoming. But the most important thing is that our child has blossomed tremendously at Grace and is excited to go to school each day. This foundation for a love of school and learning is invaluable to our child, and to us as parents.
Grace is great -- our experience has been nothing short of wonderful. It is our 2nd year (@ Silver Spring campus). The teachers are very proactive. If there's an issue or potential issue, it's immediately addressed, and with dignity, respect, and thoughtful reasoning. We had our son tested for speech too -what harm can that possibly cause? Bullying??? If there's any whiff of it I can tell you it's nipped in the bud ASAP. Parents are encouraged, invited, and welcome to participate in various ways and are very frequently asked. Regarding academics, I can speak about it from the Nursery-Kindergarten perspective. The children who go there are bright to begin with. Not sure if that's due to intelligence testing that's done beginning with incoming Kindergarteners or due to the preponderance of kids whose parents are doctors/lawyers/policy wonks. My advice: talk to a current parent if you want information.
We had a miserable experience in the preschool. Awful communication. Parents are discouraged from spending time in the classroom, observing or participating. Children - and I'm talking about 3 yo's here - are constantly evaluated against normative standards and compared to one another. Because our child was shy at the beginning of the year, the teachers sent him for a speech evaluation - without so much as asking us whether he talked at home (he's a chatterbox!). When our child was involved in a physical incident at school, we learned about it from him, not his teachers. When we called his teachers, we were told this had actually happened twice that week and no one planned to tell us! Our concerns about bullying were not taken seriously. The lower school head worked hard with us but the rest of the administration was confrontational and condescending. We withdrew our child midyear.
We go to Grace School and we're happy! My daughter started in kindergarten and was graduated at 6th grade. My son started in the Nursery and is now in the 6th grade. It's been a wonderful place for both kids. I love to go in and see the creative art work that fills the halls and see the kids focused and engaged in their studies. Small class sizes and teachers who are willing to work to find the best way to reach each student have given my kids a very solid educational foundation and a true love of learning. Grace is a gem.
I've had one daughter complete K-6 at Grace, and have two daughters currently enrolled at the school. My husband and I consider the academic program outstanding and could not have imagined a more positive school community for our children. The school is clearly committed to fostering the growth and development of the 'total child,' and works with each child to realize his or her full potential. Parents are encouraged to be actively engaged in the life of the school, and the spirit of volunteerism is obvious. The school really lives by its Mission and Philosophy, and as a result the children seem very happy. We are very pleased that that school is expanding to 8th grade!