Why would a family stay at a school where they are clearly so unhappy? Let someone in off the waitlist and go to your assigned school!
Our experience has been stellar - a caring staff, opportunities for our kids to follow their individual interests, and an emphasis on values we care about. Competition is not the focus, test scores are not the main measure of achievement, and being tolerant of others is actively taught.
We really liked Ann Arbor Open until our kid got to 7th grade. We'd heard lots of bad things about the 7th and 8th grade program at Open, and knew several people who transferred their kids out of the school after 5th or 6th grade, in order to avoid the 7th and 8th grade program. We decided to stick it out, putting our faith in a program we liked. That turned out to be a mistake. Our formerly hard-working kid now just coasts in a program that doesn't challenge her or demand much of anything from her. Homework is rare, and when she turns it in, months go by before it comes back to her -- so any real opportunity to learn from it is gone. I don't think our daughter has learned much of anything this year, and now I am faced with the conundrum of whether to disrupt her social relations by moving her to a new middle school for 8th grade or stick with a school she knows and likes but that isn't doing much of anything for her academically. I wish we'd left the school behind after 6th grade.
This school has a committed, caring staff. Decisions are made with input from all stakeholders, and the good of the individual is considered as well as the good of the entire group. Approachable, dynamic teachers & principal, and friendly supportive office staff. Every year, high schools students flock to visit on their days off. That's a testament.
My second grader is thriving. He is happy and eager to go to school. At times I have wondered if he was learning enough because I was used to a stricter Montessori setting, but he is indeed learning tons. Music and art are part of the weekly schedules. Teachers are friendly, casual and approachable. The kids there are smart, interesting funny little people interested in the world. There seems to be a fairly large international community. I counted five languages being spoken at our after school soccer game. I love that. As for bullying, I asked my son if he knew any bullies and he said he had only ever seen a bully on TV, never at Ann Arbor open. There really is a culture of kindness and acceptance there. It is a lesson taught as much as anything else. I think that has value in my sons development that is immeasurable. I can see the influence that this happy community has on his overall good attitude in life. There are a few teachers who parents grumble about but overall, it is a great place to raise happy, confident, interesting kids.
Ann Arbor Open at Mack is an absolutely wonderful school! From their magnificent principal, to their amazing teachers, this school has been a treasure for our son. AAO is unlike most public schools, as each student is nurtured and celebrated to their full potential, with the support and growth that they individually need. AAO is also very parent involved. For example, one parent (who is a writer) has chosen to volunteer weekly to teach the kids how to write poetry. Another organizes the sale of SCRIPP. Others may volunteer to do something only for a few hours, like working at the multicultural fair. We all help to make our child's experience here as successful as possible.I believe our kids are richer on the inside for being a part of the AAO family. The jump from 5th to 6th grade is such a big one for most kids, but this year was very smooth for my son, as he continues at AAO and will remain there until he enters high school in the 9th grade. Bullying is not tolerated and out-casting social clicks aren't prevalent. Everyone is a part of this big family, from K-8th grade. As parents we cherish the love and excitement that our son has about going to school and learning! J.Nelson
There is a flaw in the system when there is an entire school worth of kids who are wait-listed because they didn't win the lottery to get into this school. Some of us moved into the district a week after kindergarten registration, so our kids will never have a chance to see if they'd thrive in an open school environment. What is more cutting is that we live two blocks from the school, and have to pass the school on our long, dangerous journey to our kids' distant and apparently lacking schools. That would be easier if many of the Mack parents weren't rude drivers who block the crosswalks as we try to leave our neighborhood to walk to our far-away school. Why aren't there two open schools in A2 so that all kid who wanted an open school could go to one, and not have to leave the neighborhood they love to do so?
I chose Mack Open over Burns Park for my children. Here they were thriving, they were learning because they really wanted to - they were constantly inspired, encouraged by the best human beings, their teachers. They were always encouraged to express their own opinions, never told that they have no right to speak because they are children - they were always LISTENED TO - something that does not happen unfortunately in other schools. My children were encouraged to think independently, seek their own solutions and ask their peers advice first before turning to and adult. What a life lesson! Teachers in Ann Arbor Open are exceptional in a sense that they are not offering ready made solutions, orders, drills etc. They provide kids with tools to find their own answers. They support the creation of an independent, self motivated individual not a cookie cutter kid churned out by tests, drills and fear of an adult. I would encourage any parent to visit this school and talk to the children there - they will be able to express themselves very eloquently and describe their school environment in the best possible way!