Teachers gossip some great teachers but more bad ones every year. School used to be good but some teachers are very cold. A small group of parents run the show demanding special privileges for their kids. Kids without a parent present for volunteering and helping are overlooked
Two of J.J. Hill's several admirable teachers are about to be rewarded for their work to create a non-bullying, welcoming school community. What a shame it's hit or miss if your child gets the few wonderful classrooms that manage bullying well or the ones where the teacher claims to see no bullying, while the principal folds her arms and claims that children of this age should be able to handle things themselves. (Before you tour, ask other parents how many families pulled children last year because of physical and verbal bullying.) What a shame the whole school can't follow the few amazing teachers who do manage bullying well. What a shame we can't honestly celebrate this as a school's reward rather than feel sickened over the children who do not have teachers gifted at managing bullying, kids who will continue to suffer under this administration.
J.J. Hill used to be such a jewel, filled with passionate, capable teachers who cared deeply about the Montessori Method. Under the new superintendent and the principal of the last three years, the school has suffered badly. Both superintendent and principal are clearly putting career before the needs of the school's children, particularly those of minority children and children of color. Master teachers, frustrated, struggle with the district's demands, with a lack of support for behavioral or special ed needs, and with district-dictated, age inappropriate requirements for the children. Several have taken leaves of absence or left. The Montessori nature of the school grows more and more diluted, with a non-Montessori mantra of "teach to the test" taking its place. Behavioral issues are going unaddressed with parents unsupported as they strive to find answers for their children's concerns. It makes me terribly sad to write this review of a school that all of us--children included--once so adored.
We had moved our oldest child from this school to the Capitol Hill Magnet believing she would get a better education. We were wrong. At Capitol Hill, she was placed in the next grade of math and tested three grades ahead of her peers in reading and writing. A signal to us that the Montessori method does provide a means for children to excel academically if they are so inclined. We were lucky to have both our kids start at this school before the superintendent chose to restructure the school by cutting out 6th grade. Doing this has reduced the Montessori nature of the school and caused parents to move their kids out to other options. This is unfortunate because until recently, the strength of this school was the community involvement of the parents and teachers who felt they were part of something special and worked to make this school feel special. Now will the motivated parents seeking other options, this school will likely diminish in stature in the upcoming years.
We are so lucky to have two Montessori schools in our public school system in St. Paul. I'm a huge fan of the Montessori philosophy as well as JJ Hill's teachers and school community. Families and staff woudl be well served if the principal were more communicative, genuine and showed a passion for and understanding of Montessori education. Our school needs a leader who will advocate to retain and strengthen the Montessori philosophy.