Kindergarten: Teacher that my child had was HORRIBLE with younger kids, she would go on "sick breaks" because she couldn't tolerate the class.
1st Grade: If your child isn't learning and/or has a diff learning style, they aren't being helped enough to learn what is being taught.
*my child went to this school and i used to volunteer at the school.
From both the perspective of the students learning a second language, and learning educational content, I think the teachers have shown themselves highly effective, demonstrated through their high test scores as well as the very high placement of students and alumni in the annual Grand Concours French competition.
To be sure, homework is a regular feature of the curriculum of this school. Sometimes the volume is challenging. Sometimes the content is challenging. Sometimes it is neither. Certainly, in our house, we have used it as an opportunity to teach our son that sometimes, to get what we want, we have to do hard/boring things, find a way to see the good, and then see them through.
Because of the additional level of learning required at this school, it provides a greater challenge for students that requires the application of exactly these traits in order to succeed and excel. What I find most exciting about this school is that the underlying premise of the entire curriculum is that our goals do not need to be restricted by traditional boundaries and that we need reach beyond the expected.
I think that, by the very nature of the school, teaching students to speak (and think!) in another language, it necessarily requires considering something from two perspectives. So, beside the model of compassion and caring shown by the adults to the students in the school community, the curriculum itself makes the job of teaching compassion, caring, and empathy to the students that much easier. When parents are actively involved volunteering in the classroom, it makes this all the more successful!
Like other public schools even the smallest classes are large compared to well-funded private schools and teachers can't oversee every possible teachable-moment in order to reinforce the school's core values: Fierté, Ouverture d’esprit, Responsabilité, Compassion, Et Respect (Pride, Openness , Responsibility, Compassion , and Respect), however I do regularly see the teachers, staff, and administration reinforce these concepts, which encompass honesty, integrity, and fairness, with the students, and they do it with kindness and compassion.
It has been my understanding that, before the new principal started this year, that there was a more divisive culture affecting the school, but I have not experienced anything like that this year.
My son is just finishing up his kindergarten year and through the PTO I've established great relationships with other parents, staff, and the administration, and I've been able to talk to more people and ask more questions than the average parent. The teachers in this school are all very supportive of the students and approachable by parents. The new principal is a fantastic advocate for the students and very transparent about what she's doing for the school. I've found, in my son's classroom, the curriculum is structured and all of the students in the grade are learning the same thing at the same time, but the content is rigorous enough to challenge most students, and with the French component my son has always been very interested and engaged with the content. Though my son did qualify to transfer to the G/T program at Capitol Hill, I feel that the program here will challenge him in ways that that program will not. Having worked as a licensed teacher in the Saint Paul public schools, I really can't understate what a fantastic school and community we've found here, and how highly it compares to other schools.
My daughter started this Fall, and so far it is great! She is learning a lot of french, and her teacher has great communication with the parents. The first few weeks were a bit tough for her (getting used to the french immersion and structure). However, she is now familiar with the routine and looks forward to school. She has made some friends, and speaks positively of the activities. There are minor bullying issues that I get a bit worried about, but so far only classic kindergarten politics. I just worry about how these are managed as the kids get older and hope that these issues are taken seriously. My daughter has told me that occasionally the teacher doesn't know about some particular occurrences. One other issue is that the bus driver dropped my daughter off and let her off the bus without me at the stop (it came much earlier than it was supposed to one day), and she was walking home with an adult male neighbor (luckily I knew him). This was extremely concerning, though I know this is not specific to LNFI, and I have addressed it with the driver. Otherwise I have been very very happy with everything at the school thus far - will update if I have any change of opinion.
LNFI is a truly amazing school. My daughter is going into third grade this fall and thus far we have nothing but positive experience with the school. Immersion is inherently more difficult than other education methods, and the teachers have high expectations; they generally seem to run gentle but firm classrooms, they know their kids, and they teacher to high standards. After three years of immersion my daughter is above grade level in all her subjects and was able to express herself at a nearly fluent level in the French-speaking world this summer. The principal runs a tight ship but that's a good thing, especially with language immersion.