This is a safe place to share your honest opinions of a school, whether good or bad.
The International School of Minnesota5
Posted August 21, 2014
- a parent
ISM is a gem! The SABIS teaching model is amazing. The teachers are smart & engaging. The class sizes are small and children receive specialized attention if needed. There is no cookie cutter mold and each child is free to excell at the appropriate level. Tri-mester assessments and regular teacher feedback is top of the line. We chose ISM over Blake and Breck and are very pleased with our decision! The school offers an amazing curriculum, well rounded education in the arts and sports, and the most diverse student body!
This is a for-profit school. None of the money you spend goes towards your child's education. The teachers are all unhappy and they often leave midway through the year. The school is also run on the idea that fear and intimidation are the best ways to inspire students to learn. I feel obligated to warn anyone considering attending this school to reconsider.
We had kids at ISM for 13 years. Best school in the Twin Cities. We love the academics - for practically half the price of other, well known private schools, our kids received a better education than these more expensive schools provide. And unlike the more expensive schools, which just pick the kids who have the highest IQ and then, not surprisingly, move them on to college, ISM is less selective, and makes it its charter to bring out the best in every child - the proof: virtually every graduate goes on to college, too. The school is small enough that there is a lot of attention paid to the students, the student body is diverse and the opportunities for participation are amazing, whether in performing arts, robotics, sports. What stuns us is that ISM is not very good at tooting its own horn - many people (for example) have no idea what a robust athletic program the school has. The High School soccer teams compete at the top of their conference every year, the basketball teams have won their conference on many occasions, or been in a top spot at least, there is a great track team, baseball is starting this year. Plays and musicals are unbelievable. We did get what we paid for ++!
I've been researching schools, and just stumbled across this gem. The facility itself is just beautiful, and the sense of community is powerful. On my tour, I saw the SABIS teaching model in action, and I just love the way kids break into groups to discuss concepts and confirm each other's comprehension -- so empowering. It's much cheaper than some of the other privates around here and has less of a "rarified" feeling. We're submitting our application.
ISM has served us well for 9yrs. Here is what we love. 40% of families have a parent or child born in another country. However, it is NOT a school only for those families with international connections. It is a school for everybody! World language is taught daily by native speakers yet it is not an immersion school. The language department offers classes for the beginner, regardless of the grade your child enters. The music, art, and PE departments are exceptional. Every child has an opportunity to sing or speak at their concerts. The art department teaches the kids to work in a variety of mediums, the displays the art all over the school. The PE department uses the entire 55 acres of our natural and beautiful campus for sledding, X-country skiing, snow shoeing, geocaching, hiking, fishing, tracking, and trail-running. These specialists see students weekly, and sometimes more, starting in preschool. Extended Day is INCLUDED with full-time tuition. No prior arrangements need to be made. If you are late getting out of work, no problem. Your child is safely playing with friends until you arrive. We love ISM!
My son attended ISM for one year of preschool. Our teacher was wonderful and we had a good year. I have to give ISM an average rating for several reasons. The curriculum is one size fits all. They have the educational belief that no child should be allowed to accelarate beyond his peers. So, if you child is exemplary in one area, they will be bored. The children begin rigorous testing in kindergarten. For some kids, this caused much anxiety. Yes, 50% of graduates are Merit but graduating classes are of only 12 kids. The concept of this school being diverse is true culturally but not socio-economically. Most families are from other countries and are very wealthy. One reason for this is that there is very little scholarship money given to lower income families. And what is given does not start until 6th grade. By then, most chiildren have settled in to a school. Your money wil be much better spent elsewhere.
Our daughter is currently attending ISM. We considered other options (Breck and Blake) but found that ISM was the right fit for us. In talking with friends that have kids at those schools, ISM offers more. She is gifted but they do offer much to keep her busy and challenged. And as far as cost goes, there are additional costs not covered by tuition. It is still much less than other alternatives and a much better value. One final note, their lunch program may be a bit more but it is actually really good food. And in keeping with their international nature, reflective of foods from elsewhere in the world. The only thing I can't give 5 stars to is the Principle but that is only because I have yet to meet her.
Not a great experience at all. The math program uses very green teachers, and my son's scores declined after he was there for two years. The head of the school is very rigid. The text books are dated. The learning is rote. The kids are placed under intense pressure. They have very little time between classes to get from place to place which intensifies the pressure. There is shame based approach to discipline. Very strong emphasis on materialism. The add on costs are substantial. Lunch is expensive, the bus is expensive. All the extra curriculars are expensive. Not a great value and it was an unfortunate experience.
I started at ISM 5 years ago, and I have loved every part of it. The class sizes are small (my French class last year had only 6 people), so the teachers can provide help to all of the students, not just the ones that are having serious problems. I know just about every teacher in the school, and it's so nice to walk down the hall and know everyone - including all the students! The Student Life Organization can't be beat! It gives all the students the chance to get involved in the student community in any way they want. The academics are wonderful, and there are so many options for students who want to do AP classes. The teachers are amazing and work so hard to help students succeed. Peer tutoring is great; I have tutored countless lower schoolers and have loved having the ability to get to know them. It's such a connected school. The all-school musicals (and the whole music department!) are top quality. Coming from a public school system, I love that anyone can get involved because of the small size. We have a good sports department with about 7 different sports. We just built an awesome new track and soccer field. Come take a tour at our school, I'm sure you'll be impressed!
My children attended ISM for Pre-K - 5th for my daughter and PS - K for my son. They are now in 6th and 10th grades. I still think ISM was the best school they have attended - we moved back to our home city - we left ISM,because we moved back to Missouri. ISM pushes the students to excel academically & I believe this environment set the standard for both of my children (especially the older one) in the schools they have attended since. At the time, I thought the price was a bit high for what I was getting, but know now the price was right! I have paid the same since fo since, but have gotten a lot less.