This is a safe place to share your honest opinions of a school, whether good or bad.
Posted February 19, 2015
- a parent
My son started as a freshman at Sparhawk High School three years ago, and it has been a wonderful experience for him. He has developed a love of learning and actually looks forward to going to school. Sometimes he complains of having too much homework but that's to be expected from a 16 year old. I don't understand the negative review about the students not having homework. I would question any child that made that claim since I know there's plenty. All assignments are available online and so you can check what assignments are due and what grade your child received. What sets Sparhawk apart is the small classes, the engaged and committed teachers and the positive energy of the place. College preparation is emphasized and proved with 100% of the students placed by the end of their senior year. Each semester, the student is required to participate in a school wide public presentation of projects highlighting a faculty chosen theme. The experience teaches them public speaking and how to research and write, all valuable skills for college. I can't speak about the lower grades, but the high school has been amazing.
Sparhawk is truly a gem- my son is in his third year here and we couldn't be happier. The teachers are brilliant, and obviously love what they do. My son goes to school with several of the faculty children- I remember touring the school and thinking that it was a wonderful testament to Sparhawk that so many of the faculty chose the school for their own children. My son loves going to school, abs is excited about his studies especially math and science. The arts program is phenomenal- it's integrated into the curriculum and there are enrichments and afterschool options as well. Foreign language is also part of his studies- My son has been taking Mandarin Chinese here since kindergarten, how great is that?! We love Sparhawk and are so thankful that we made this choice for our child.
Academics were a disappointment. It was very difficult to discern true performance: We rarely saw any in-class work, and there s no homework. Sparhawk places great emphasis on art and does that well. Outside of art, the curriculum is limited. For example, a yearlong science project focused on local bird habitats and basic facts while ignoring the essence of scientific discovery. It was more important to be able to draw a bird than to characterize a bird. Foreign language is taught but not well. You ll learn most of the kitchen utensils, but not even the simplest of sentences (e.g., My friend s name is John.) Communication, be it teacher to student or teacher/administrator to parent, is poor. We found the school s leadership capricious, reactive and lacking integrity. If your child is not predictable and composed, this NOT THE PLACE. The administration is intolerant of children who show any form of externalizing behavior (e.g., crying, emotional responses). Those who plan to transition to public school should expect to be behind peers, as Sparhawk doesn t hold students accountable for learning. Finally, if you leave mid-year for any reason, you still owe the full year's tuition.
We have three children who have thrived at Sparhawk School over the past 11 yrs, one exceptionally gifted, one musical and kinesthetic with ADHD, and one a quiet, observational learner. Each has been nurtured at Sparhawk, as a learner and as a person, and each has learned to love learning, make good friends, and want to engage with big ideas. Their very diverse needs as students were met through Sparhawk's differentiated approach to curriculum, and the math whiz, the artist, and the science/ELA lover were all challenged and nurtured at the school. The artist is graduating from college next weekend, and I attribute this in no small part to the love and support of the teachers at Sparhawk, and their responsiveness to the way HE learned. The math whiz is at college, forging a path towards sustainable energy and building small, zero impact housing. Sparhawk taught my children to envision a future of limitless possibilities and a commitment to positive social change, and gave them the skills to pursue their goals. The science/ELA lover is in middle school, still loving learning and school. Who will she be? I don't know, but I trust that, at Sparhawk, she'll be the one to decide.
My son attended Sparhawk School for four years. He forged bonds with teachers, administrators, and fellow students and learned that school can be a positive and healthy place, rather than a drudgery. The Sparhawk Middle School and High school experience taught him to use his creative thinking, trust his writing and math skills and to build upon and improve those skills. He worked hard and learned so much while at Sparhawk. He appreciated the opportunities available to him in math, drama, music, and writing and learned so much from 8th Grade Speech and Novice Synthesis. The school does a very good job keeping class sizes small, but as a result the social scene is smaller. I wish this school could increase the number of students in attendance so that there is a broader peer base. We felt like we were in a caring community and currently stay in touch as often as we are able. As parents, we were in control of how involved we were- we helped PTO, gave presentations in the classroom, and helped out the drama program. It is a great place!
My families experience with Sparhawk School has been exactly what I had hoped it would be. My son is in his second year with the school, and he is absolutely thriving. He is not only excelling academically with their dynamic curriculum, he is excited to go to school and absolutely loves it. In a day and age when so many schools are cutting back on their art and music programs, it's refreshing to find a school that emphasizes their importance. The teachers are thoughtful, kind and dedicated to creating the loving community that truly feels like home. Every day when I pick up my son, his reacher takes the time to engage with me and share at least one special moment from the day. In addition I often receive photos in my email showcasing his classes adventures. I can not say enough positive things about this school.
You can see from the reviews that this school is somewhat polarizing. That's because Sparhawk is great for some kids and parents and not for others. If your child is having a hard time firing into the public system or a larger school Sparhawk can be a great place for them to learn and thrive - in particular the High School or Lower School. As with most schools, the Middle School is the most problematic for many reasons but again, including teaching and leadership quality and a lack of process around disciplinary procedures but some kids and parent thrive there. Parents can get as involved as they like - this is encouraged - but if your child hits a roadblock communication with parents, throughout is weak. We have had mixed experiences there so really I would encourage a visit to the school and decide for yourself.
I taught at Sparhawk for many years and then I left to publish books and consult in the field of education. After visiting dozens of schools over the past few years, I can confidently say that Sparhawk is an amazing place for teaching and learning. The teachers are there to help students on a deep level, but that means that the students must be committed to the learning process. The complaints about the school that I have read translate to the idea that some students just want to glide through school without actually challenging themselves as academics. Sparhawk is designed to "Celebrate Ideas" and "Honor Children." This means that students are given every chance, every individualized chance to be successful. Whether they (or the families) take advantage of powerful learning or not, is up to the student. I have been to dozens and dozens of schools as a consultant in the past three years, and I have never come across a better school. People who want more should choose Sparhawk. Period.
There are not words that can describe sparhawk school the teachers are all kind and have a genuine understanding and respect for kids! The schools academics are out standing and it is a shame all kids dont get this kind of learning experience. Having been to sparkawk school i know first hand that it was the best school experience of my life. possibly one of the most important over all experience of my life!
A truly inspiring school where teachers love teaching and children are part of a community surrounded by respect and encouragement. My son is highly motivated in part because his teachers never fail to challenge him or encourage him to take risks. A nurturing enviornment for all learning styles and backgrounds. I am also thrilled with Sparhawk's assistance with college applications and the entire process.