Sarah, our son's teacher, is wise and makes careful choices and decisions. She is compassionate, and the children love her. Sarah is highly professional, and cares about the character of the children in her care. She provides a safe, peaceful, and harmonious learning environment. Sarah is flexible and delightful to work with.
As a family that transitioned from Clonlara's homeschool program to its campus-based day school, we could not be more pleased with our experience. Unlike some other recent reviews, our engagement with the administration and teaching staff has been open and cooperative. While our son does have a learning disability, he is gifted in several areas, and both the administration and teachers could not have worked harder to address his academic strengths and weaknesses. That said, the prior criticisms that this is a "special needs school" are unfair and unfounded, as the school does not purport to provide special services: it does not advertise itself as having a child pyschologist or speech pathologist on staff, but it does provide the flexibility for outside professionals to visit the school and work with individual students. Instead, it emphasizes unique and customized programs, which are not necessarily remedial, but often complements the gifted children's interests and talents.
When we went on a recent field trip, we were delighted by how courteous and well-behaved the Clonlara students were to those inside and outside the school community. We were able to see this in comparison to other school groups at the same site, where mutual respect and care clearly were not valued as they are by the Clonlara community.
On several occasions, we have seen other families welcomed and warmly received, with parents and grandparents coming to participate and celebrate children's achievements and special events. This is indicative of the transparency that we have experienced from our first meeting with the head of school when we were considering our options for where our son would attend after several years of homeschooling. There has been an honest and ongoing conversation. Potential disciplinary scenarios were discussed with the teacher ahead of time, which allowed us as the parents to have a say in what would constitute a just and appropriate response if our son were to misbehave.
There is an active and intentional mentoring program at the school, in which the older students take on and nurture the younger students. This already has been very beneficial to our son. For us, Clonlara has been all we could have asked for in a warm, caring and academically engaging context. In many ways, Clonlara has exceeded our expectations.
You may be thinking about attending this school because you feel like you have nowhere else to send your child. Please be warned that we found the administration and staff of Clonlara to be totally unequipped to deliver on their mission and philosophy. The student population of this school is made up of young people, who may have emotional, academic, and behavioral disabilities. Clonlara does not have the appropriate professional staff to help the environment be one that nurtures the growth of the students; for example there is no child psychologist on staff and the turnover in teachers has resulted in a very inexperienced staff.
The discipline employed is odd and strife with unbelievable inconsistencies. Our experience was one where extreme amounts of time were spent on discipline issues of the students with ineffective and inconsistent approaches leaving near zero time spent on academics. If you speak out about any school related situation expect to be scorned and punished by an administration that does not like to be questioned.
If the mandatory parent meetings offered any value at all Clonlara would not need to fine parents for not attending. At one recent meeting Clonlara asked the parents in attendance to leave positive reviews on the Internet to counter the negative ratings that they receive. Wow, if the school did not have problems they would not have to ask for positive reviews.
Some of the teachers there are very kind with good hearts and this is not directed towards all of them. However, the actions of a few, along with that of some in the administration shows otherwise. When my son attended, the rules did not apply equally to all children. It lead to confusion for younger children who saw conflicting consequences for the same behavior from different children. This was just one example of many.
This school touts itself as creating "custom programs" for each child. My son did have special needs but no custom program was created for him. No special steps were taken to work with us as parents and; communication with the teachers had to go through the administration who clearly managed the conversations. There were also no counselors, psychologists, therapists or other certified professionals on staff to assist these special needs children.
Lastly, for the last 9 months he was there, my son was severely bullied physically and/or mentally on a daily basis there by a boy 4.5 years his elder and the school did nothing to stop it. They told me they had a plan to keep the two children apart but when I saw my son's behavior turn very angry, aggressive, physical with severe bed-wetting, I started to do surprise visits and found otherwise. Nothing had changed, the boys were together frequently. When we questioned the school, they became affronted and their behavior towards us and our son became confrontational to say the least.
My son attended this school for 1.5 years. During that time he actually learned LESS then he went in knowing. It was like a romper-room.
there was so much wrong with it it hard to even start most people leave for a public school any way and unless this is the only choice you have i still say don't i could go on for days about poor staff terrible ran campus home program is ok.
Clonlara is the home we wanted for our daughter. I am sad that we are paying tuition but it is worth it to have your child thrive in a supportive environment. The public schools could no longer provide what she needed. Some of the earlier reviews talk about lack of accountability and poor leadership. The may have been true in the past. The teachers that my daughter has now (and I will say teacher turn over is a problem) are committed and well trained. Students are all accounted for and there is no "sneaking off". My daughter is a high achiever that has hit some bumps in the road. Clonlara is letting her get back on track. Clonlara is a chance to let your child blossom, not just get by. The low student/teacher ratio is great!
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!