This is a safe place to share your honest opinions of a school, whether good or bad.
Posted June 06, 2014
- a parent
In a world where schools are 'teaching to the test' and churning out students who are seeking right answers, the Advent School is a wonderful example of how to create lifetime learners who are looking for the right questions. The transition last year from a 20+ year veteran head of school to a new head of school was challenging for some families, as many transitions often are. But the school is to as strong as ever, with teachers and kids not missing a beat. There are a few schools where you can find two masters level co-teachers in a room with 16 to 18 children. The numbers alone make for an amazing and individualized educational experience for every child. The progressive curriculum allows the children to voice their interests and follow those interests through student and teacher led inquiries, creating a level of student engagement and innovation not found in most schools. We couldn't be more pleased with our school choice for our daughter - who's now in second grade.
We looked at every public school in the north zone of Boston and at private schools in Boston and Cambridge. Nothing compared to the caliber of engagement and innovation fostered by the Advent School. In her first year, our daughter studied the science of tools and basic engineering through rebuilding her classroom into parts of a medieval castle complete with a drawbridge. She learns quickly because she has fun and is creatively engaged every day. Her experience is a striking contrast to her friends at other schools who do repetitive worksheets day after day in preparation for standardized tests and are already complaining about going to school. The school's success is evident in our daughter's independently reading three years ahead of her grade level and in the well spoken, poised graduates who leave the school and move on to tremendous success at some of the best middle and high schools in Boston.
Advent is a school with innovative, motivated teachers; sound, invested leadership; and an involved, fun parent community. When you walk through the doors, you feel the energy and see the enthusiasm for learning. The science, art, and music programs are phenomenal! The school's greatest strength lies in its development of leaders. From ECC onward, the children are given opportunities to present their ideas, debate, collaborate, and offer critique in a supportive manner. The quality of student graduating from Advent shows that its curriculum and its main areas of concentration - leadership and social justice - produce well-rounded, high-achieving leaders.
My family has been at this school for 4 years. And while I understand the angst during the transition from a head of school who had been there for 18 years to a new one, I disagree with those who feel it has lost its way or is not rigorous enough. What I love - that the school teaches kids to think critically not learn by rote or teach to a test. I also love the way kids are expected to treat each other and the adults at the school. It builds respect, character, empathy and understanding within the entire community. No school is perfect for every kid, but this one works wonderfully for us and I look forward to the rest of our time at Advent, as does my daughter.
I have two children at this school, currently one in the fourth grade and one in the first grade. Both entered in the ECC (pre-K) year. We have had an extremely positive experience throughout. The two teacher model plus specialists in science, art, music, Spanish, yoga and PE mean kids get an unprecedented amount of teaching and attention. The school did go through a change of leadership which, understandably, caused some angst amongst the school community. Happy to say that I feel confident in the new Head of School as well as our experienced and very impressive Assistant Head of School. One element of the school that I find extremely rewarding is the total school community. Naturally my children have developed wonderful friendships, but so have my husband and I. It s an open and fun group of people.
This school is really one of a kind. There is an energy and excitement. Students learn how to link their passion to content. The teachers are thoughtful and energetic and know my kid. The new Head Of School is just as vibrant and is bringing a sense of calmness and transparency after three years of transition. The schools mission is imbedded in what they do and their new leader has really shown she has what it takes to open the doors to show Boston and the Nation what we all have parents have known, it is the best kept secret in Boston doing things that national schools would only dream of. I am sad that a disgruntled parent would post here. This is not a place for everyone, students understand fully the content, they are not just regurgitating information. Just saw the AISNE report, no mention of lacking in academics. High praise on mission driven school. Their ERB ranking is median to high on independent school norms. I wish someone would research before they start blasting. Three kids and seven years later, we could not be happier.
This will be our fourth year at the school and I can't imagine a better fit for my child. No school is perfect, but Advent comes pretty close. My child is thriving and is excited to go to school everyday thanks to dedicated teachers and a close-knit community of learners. The teachers make learning fun! After reading the other recent reviews I admit I am concerned about the upper grades. Advent needs to work on living its mission of social justice and provide equal opportunities for every child. We should not have to hire private tutors to guarantee placement in an exam school or private school. I feel strongly that the next Head is well prepared to fundraise which has been the main challenge. Currently not every family can afford Advent's summer programs and afterschool even with financial aid. This needs to change if the school is truly committed to diversity and inclusion. Otherwise, the lower grades have been amazing and I look forward to Advent's growth for a stronger future.
I respectfully disagree with assessments that suggest the school was far stronger under the previous head of school. In fact, the previous head was a poor leader - no transparency, grew the school with no strategic plan or vision, drove good teachers away. The interim head (2012-2013)was a lovely person who made some minor positive changes, but also was not a leader of any caliber - not a strong administrator, avoids conflict, no ability to fund raise. The Board is a real mess (no transparency or strategic plan) Curriculum not progressive (many children see ERB test scores drop one year to the next) nor child centric (no supports available that other independent "progressive' schools have incorporated into their core academic supports). Some teachers are excellent - others not. There doesn't seem to be any paring of experienced and new teachers. Rules change from classroom to classroom and between specialists - i.e. no consistency in terms of what's expected. I have great hopes for the next head of school - she has a lot of challenges ahead but seems to be entering "eyes wide open". Our first child completed gr 6 but I regret that decision and have moved our other child.
It is worth noting that many of the more positive comments here are from parents of younger children. Especially as children progress through the school, it is very clear that academically, the program lacks the rigor needed to meet standards and excel. The teachers are overly involved with social aspects of the students, but as an educational institution, the Advent is inferior.
The Advent School was a huge disappointment. The school has lost it's way and lost its mission, and doubled in size over the past few years without fully planning for it. This school caters to wealthy families, and the scholastic program is marginal. If you have any intention of sending your child to a school that requires ISEE scores, plan to get your child tutored. The Advent's report card and grading is very poor, but will hold your child back in the end. You will not find this out until after scores have been submitted to next year schools! At a cost of $25,000 plus, with after school, plan on being pressured to donate, donate, donate. If you care about scholastic achievement, send your child elsewhere. Some teachers are good, but have not been given the proper leadership. The interim head of school, who was very very weak, is being replaced by a new head. Things at the school could improve, but I would stay away until progress is made.