This is a safe place to share your honest opinions of a school, whether good or bad.
Posted October 29, 2014
- a parent
My daughter graduated from the campus program in 2014. She attended Clonlara for approximately 2.5 years after having to leave public school due to medical reasons and extensive absences. The staff was supportive and nurturing and helped her to catch up on her credits and graduate on time. Each student had a lot of input to their coursework within the general curriculum guidelines, which was beneficial since students were at varying levels. Some were working ahead for their grade level and others such as my daughter were "catching up". She enjoyed being in an 'all ages" school and spending time not only with her peers but with the "youngers" and "middles" as well. She was given an opportunity to mentor and tutor some of the younger children. We also appreciated the emphasis on community service and the time the students spent volunteering at various organizations.
My son transitioned from homeschooling to Clonlara at 14, where he continued to blossom at his own rate. His very creative, outgoing personality was nurtured there. The staff there is great. They help students explore their passions, as well as learn the core subjects, in creative ways. It is a safe place to be yourself.
My son attended and graduated from the campus program. My biggest wish is that we had found Clonlara sooner. The way their program worked with my son, allowing for his learning style and creativity set him up for high school success. The small, personalize environment where relationships and understanding were key for my son's education. He not only graduated but he left Clonlara knowing how to take action and get projects done, how to communicate and interact with peers/adults, and with a sense that he 'could do' things differently. We will be forever grateful!
Poorly administrated and lacking in understanding of student's needs. No counselor, social worker or psychologist on staff in a school geared towards students with emotional and/or academic disabilities. Rigid inflexible discipline approaches that are not effective. High teacher turn over rates. Low academic learning. Mandatory parent meetings that are not valuable and a fee is assessed if more than one is missed. Poor communication with parents. Not all teachers available at conferences. Seem to feel that parents should just blindly trust them.
Clonlara's home-based program provides flexibility and accountability in education. Like all educational programs, "you get out of it what you put into it". The program offers students and parents the opportunity to design a curriculum that is interesting / challenging for the student. The Clonlara staff provides honest evaluation and guidance on coursework, and it is up to the student and family to strive for excellence. Our son was falling through the cracks of a large suburban high school. He was doing nothing and learning even less. When we could not solve the problems within the framework of the public school, we enrolled at Clonlara. The burden is now on us as parents, but we are designing classes to better meet his interests, and we are enforcing performance. We are meeting our state's merit curriculum requirements while helping our son develop his interests and skills. Those who complain and/or "brag" about doing nothing at Clonlara should realize that they missed their own opportunity and cheated their own future. A school can only offer an education. It is up to the student to accept the challenge and earn an education.
Speaking from experience as an alumni I would just like parents to know that this school is not what it seems. I have to say I love their quote, "We empower students to participate in the design of their own education." The type of education I designed consisted of smoking in the woods, leaving midday to go home and nap, chatting and gossiping with my friends in big comfy couches. Sometimes we would just take naps. Nothing was ever enforced, and we took that inch and made it a mile. I can honestly say I did nothing while I was there for 10, 11 and 12th grade and I ended up graduating. In all honesty the only reason I graduated was because the principal felt bad for me, and we literally added classes into my schedule and gave them grades so that I could graduate. With all that said, I did end up graduating from college and found a great job. I feel like I am really lucky. But I must say I would never in a million years send my children there.
The learning program itself is not to bad, But when 6 year after graduation and you call and request a copy of your diploma and they tell you that you didn't graduate. Even tho you walked and completed the requirements, received a first diploma, they accuse you of not finishing.. I have to say it dropped the school rating to the negatives. All the money paid and time spent for a proud day of graduating, all to lead to absolutely nothing! I don't recommend this school to anyone who wants their hard work and money to matter.
I wish all schools were like Clonlara. The environment is extraordinary - the children learn in everything they do. There is tremendous structure and coherence to the day, yet the children learn without monotony or stress so common in most schools. The teachers are gifted. This is the place to send your child if you want him or her to have the opportunity to learn, to engage in the world, to become a full human being in a world that requires practical knowledge and creative thinking.