This is a really big school. I believe that there are way too many students for the space and the number of staff. My child's kindergarten class had 23 students and only 1 full time teacher and 1 part time aide. The level of supervision was inadequate for this age group (for example children left behind in bathrooms, lunches left uneaten). Neither my child's teacher nor the principal was great at communicating with parents and neither did they welcome parental involvement. Extremely disappointing.
This school has an adversarial climate.The staff appear to be under qualified to deal with "problem" children. They pay great lip service in IEP meetings to educational goals for under performers, and then drop the ball. It takes months to get going, and so problems don't really receive adequate attention until a good portion of the year/s has/have gone by. They "encourage" the parent to medicate for ADD when the staff's understanding of a child's disability falls short. Disabilities are handled rather tediously and in lean measure, in spite of caring specialists. Administration here is very punitive and inexperienced in dealing with difficult children. There is some disturbing dishonesty that crops up now and then, when failures on their part are exposed. It seems they would like to remove children with serious difficulty. I have seen some positive trends in attempts being made to try some new things to help struggling students. So far, it just isn't good enough. They need more staff and tutoring for those who are barely advancing. More staff education for those in administration is essential, to help them understand the behavior of difficult children.
My daughter goes to West Parish and I feel that it is the best school in Gloucester. My daughter is young for her grade and an only child, so she started out less mature than the other kids, but when she entered West Parish in 2007 as a barely 5 year old kindergartener I was immediately pleased with the attention they gave her. Half way through that year we moved to another part of town served by another elementary school, but they allowed her to stay there since she had already become adjusted. She is now in the third grade and I have been very pleased with the education that she has been able to get at West Parish despite the fact that the face the same funding issues as the rest of the schools in Gloucester. They do very well with what they've got, and they treat the children as individuals with their own needs and learning styles. My daughter has a hard time staying on task and the teachers have communicated this with me and been willing to work with me to find strategies for dealing with this without medication. I appreciate West Parish but worry about what we'll do after fifth grade.