This school is not what it seems. Beware of any school where the tours are like a drive-thru McDonalds. You don't get to really dwell and see the quality of instruction. Teachers very old school at the front of the room. Not progressive by any stretch. The environmental is trivial or almost non-existent. It was there for a few years and was really a great part of the day. Now it's gone rather mysteriously. They had this incredible greenhouse and that is not running either. Lots of smoke and mirrors about kids going outside, blah, blah, blah. They don't go out much. Kids are sequestered in their rooms- hardly mix with other classes. Bummer for the kids. Principal and other administration are routinely rude and dismissive to parents that are not valuable to them. It's pretty white bread. I would not put my child there if you value creativity, academic excellence, joy of learning. The place exudes a stay away vibe. Notice the windows to classrooms are papered over. Vice principal is absolutely lacking in social skills. Sent me packing to a charter school.
I have had two children attend Dowling and our experience there has been nothing buy positive. Their environmental focus has strengthened over the past 3 years to include a composting/recycling program, environmental education classes for all grades, a working greenhouse, outdoor classroom and frequent outdoor nature walks and activities. In addition, children swim once a week in the pool, cross country ski and snowshoe in the winter and do bike safety in the fall The teachers are fantastic - from the music and art teachers to the classroom teachers and aides. There are many field trips, resident artists and fantastic parent involvement. The principal is involved, approachable and responsive to needs. The school is very diverse which I feel has been a great benefit to my children. I cannot say enough about Dowling!
The 'environmental' emphasis is all but nonexistant. With Great River Rounds, Mississippi , bird migration, adjacent community gardens and urban woodlands, real creative opportunities to foster future environmental stewardship is forsaken to ANY meaningful degree. Over worked staff, high class size and wide learning disparities leaves much to be desired in terms of individ. student needs (emotional and academic -esp. GT). Oriented towards teaching for the MCA (teacher directed methodology) and not child centered exploration. Bulling rampant. After negative comments from teachers/specialists about our bright timid 8 year old, and no real effective interest from old principal - we left mid year. Bus behavior and reliability worst we've EVER seen. Office detached and hardly knows the children. That greatly lessened safety.
I agree with the parent who said there is little creativity. It's very structured, which was something we were looking for but I think there is room within structure for some creativity. I also am very curious where the Science and Environmental parts of the curriculum are. I feel very disconnected from the school, from the activities and from the other parents. I wish we lived closer or that all the schools were as good as this one is. It's a fantastic school overall that my son loves, his teacher is amazing and very caring. There is swimming which my son loves. The playground area when I saw it needed some work. The art program seems well done. The principal is very visible and obviously also cares about his school. I hope that with parent comments they get back to the 'urban environmental'
My son just finished Kindergarten at Dowling and we are very happy with his achievements and social development. The after-school care is adequate. Dowling is a unique school, with a high percentage of special needs kids, a swimming pool, and huge grounds with gardens and orchards. In addition to the '3 R's', my son learned about plants and about sewing, fabric, and weaving. He adored his teacher and made many good friends. I did some volunteering in the classroom and was very impressed with the organization, commitment, and professionalism of the teacher. The principal is A-1, a highly qualified and committed educator.
You will be very satisfied with Dowling and your child will learn a lot. Many well-structured things going on, great parent involvement, frequent field trips. Jeffrey Raison, the calm and very visible principal, has vision and good leadership skills. My main personal complaint is the schoolwide emphasis on structure, the amount of testing, and the less than inspirational curriculum followed by most teachers. I would like more general creativity, but that is also asking a lot in times of back-to-basics pressure.