This is a safe place to share your honest opinions of a school, whether good or bad.
Forest Knolls Elementary School4
Posted October 24, 2013
- a parent
Forest Knolls Elementary is a great school with teachers and faculty that really care about their students. I have a seven year old there and I am in regular communication with his teacher (who by the way was also a student at FKES) about his progress and couldn't be happier with how he's doing this year.
It is a sad truth! Great schools are consistent with their outcomes inspite of what challenges they encounter. I am not sure why the previous parent spoke about the challenges with non-English speaking parents, when the county and MCPS is so diverse and embraces families regardless of what language a family speaks. Let me share an experience about a parent not located in the Forest Knolls Community who had their child in the same Collaborative Preschool for the Orthopaedically hanidcapped. This parent had to withdrew their child as staff were verbally abusing their preschool child. As there is no representation or advocacy for SN that begins at the school, one would never know the challenges SN parents face at the school and those who leave the school for the same reason this parent transferred her child to another school in MCPS. It is heartbreaking to keep hearing these same stories through the years and to know the administration and some of these staff members who are known to do this are still present. Great schools, especially one that is inclusive for children with special needs should not have these occurrences.
My child is a special needs student at Forest Knolls. He has gone there since he was 3 in the Collaborative Preschool (for Orthopedically handicapped and their typical peers). He is doing great. We have found lots of support in and out of the classroom for him. We have not had to fight to get every service. We are offered the services he needs. The classroom sizes for K - 2 are small because the school receives Maryland Focus Funds to reduce the size of classes. Many of the students have non-English speaking parents and that creates challenges. But overall the kids are getting a great education and are learning about all different cultures. I don't know why the previous poster talked about lack for support for SN. There is a SN committee with the PTA and if no parents want to join it then that is the parent of SN parents who are falling down on the job. My kid is learning lots and he gets extra services for having a physical disability. We get lots of support at this school and I invite other parents to check out the school.
My daugther will be starting 5th grade this fall at Forest Knolls Elementary. This will be our sixth year at the school. I researched the school before buying our house and was quite impressed with the principal, the curriculum and the building. The school and its administration have not let me down in the past 5 years. Forest Knolls has an active parent community. We have a strong PTA that advocates for our children and does a wonderful job of programming for the school and community. We have raised over $10,000 the past few years with a Silent Auction and we are able to return that money to the school for new AP equipment, teacher supplies and my other items. The school assesses all children and groups them by ability for both math and reading. I find this very helpful for my daughter as the classroom is very diverse with ESOL and special needs children along with the Gifted and Talented. By placing students in smaller groups by ability children are able to get the extra attention they need from the teacher. I would highly recommend Forest Knolls to any family that is looking for a strong academic but diverse experience for their children.
Child Advocacy: FKS is a good school. In my opinion and experience a lot of the teachers are unable or unwilling to communicate effectively with parents. There seems to be a lot of passing the buck when it comes to the childs performance and behavior. As a parent I find myself being the one to initiate the talks about my childs progress and or lack there of. Teachers are more apt to contact you when there is a challenge then when there are victory's. As with any school you have to advocate for your child and remember that the teachers are being evaluated and watched by the administration and the administration by big brother. In other words things are not always as the staff presents them to be. Take the initiative to follow up and hold the staff accountable to their actions and choices. I feel strongly that leadership starts at the top. The prinicpal in my opinion is not approachable. When I walk my child into the school there is no greeting or acknowledgement from the prinicipal; may not teach the students but again it starts with leadership. Again FKS is good school and I have not had the pleasure of being in the presence of one of the "best" schools in MCPS.
Be aware of the parent reviewer who has an axe to grind. I can tell that the same unhappy reviewer has written on more than one occasion about the school. In my opinion, this is a wonderful gem of a school, located in a highly ethnically diverse neighborhood. The population contains a mix of single and dual income families with college professionals, tradesmen, and parents who have decided to take time off of outside work to raise children. The school emphasizes caring and excellence in academics. The teachers really are dedicated and work with parents to come up with solutions, when a student is encountering difficulty with a subject or socially. There is a high level of parent and community involvement in the school. I encourage those who have a problem with the school's policies to bring their concerns to the administration, and the PTA. Many issues have been tackled as a joint venture between parents, teachers and administrators. At a time when state and county budget cuts effect all programs, we should spend our energy assisting and lending our time and talent, rather than bashing the school in a public forum.
I am just getting back from Forest Knolls' annual "Good Night, Sleep Tight" event in which teachers come back to school and read books to the K-2nd grade kids in the evening. I was looking around at this room full of spellbound youngsters and teachers who'd been working all day, who were back in their evening costumes of pajamas, and I just felt lucky that my son goes to school here. The principal later got up and read "The Cat in the Hat" to the entire group, wearing a hat modeled after the one in the book. I felt grateful because the teachers are really so fantastic and enthusiastic (many of them moms with young kids of their own). The school community is active and engaged, with numerous events scheduled throughout the year. Our class sizes are tiny compared to some of the schools in the western part of the county. That really helps provide more personal interaction between teachers and students. If you need after-care for your kids, you really couldn't ask for a better situation than the Kids After Hours program run by an energetic dad who's had the job for many years. At any rate, FKES is a strong school.
Be cautious of the overinflated evaluations by zealous parents who have overrated Forest Knolls Elementary School. As the true ratings were modestly low, parents encouraged other parents to write evaluations to boost the school ratings. Don't get me wrong, Forest Knolls is a good school. As with any school there are excellent teachers and some mediocre teachers. Yes, there are teachers who "yell," at students and it seems as if this is tolerated by the administration. Then, there are exceptional teachers who are passionate about their jobs and really care about their students. I believe the excellent teachers and staff out number the few "bad lemons." The PTA is strong and the parent community is actively involved in numerous activities. Diversity is adequate. The administration is somewhat rigid and as one parent mentioned earlier, there is tracking.You must advocate for your child or else, they may be left to lag behind. The school is inclusive and has many support services to offer students who qualify for them. If the administration was less rigid and more genuine Forest Knolls Elementary school would be a great school.
In a word, Forest Knolls Elementary School is wonderful. Our son's teachers have all been highly committed, professional and talented, and hard working. We have been very impressed by the close attention that our son receives, both by teachers and the administration. They rapidly identified our son's reading deficit, developed an action plan, and the issue was quickly and effectively resolved. Doing so required close attention to detail, teamwork, and effective communication with us. Today, our son is a star reader. The PTA is very active, vibrant, and lively. Through a variety of PTA activities, such as International Night, after school activities, the book fair, and the silent auction, there is a genuine sense of a school community. Overall, we feel fortunate to have such a great school in our neighborhood.
The school excels at providing individualized instruction for student, meeting each student's needs. The school has a strong PTA, and offers a very welcoming environment for parents and community. There are many opportunities for parental involvement. The entire staff knows my sons' names, even if they were not actually my child's classroom teacher. I am always greeted with a warm welcome and all my questions and concerns are addressed in a timely manner by the classroom teachers, the administration and the specialists who work with my children. The school fosters a caring environment and the students seem empathetic to the needs of others. It is very diverse in terms of ethnicity. The school hosts the Occupational Health services for the area, so students of varying abilities work together in a co-educational environment. I do not feel that any group suffers from being placed in heterogeneous classroom settings (note: this is a State and County mandate and not particular to the school), if anything it fosters better understanding, cooperation and raises the overall expectations and standards for the classroom as a whole.