Mill Creek is a fantastic school. My child is an advanced reader, but struggles in math. All of his teachers have worked with him on his individual strengths and weaknesses. He was reading chapter books at home and there weren't any in the classroom, so his teacher went out of her way to direct him to appropriate paced literature. When he does math, he spaces out and can't concentrate. He hates it, and all three of his teachers have worked with him on ways to improve, and he has! There is a lot of parent involvement. The parents and teachers are constantly connected which helps keep the kids on track. I feel grateful that we are lucky to be in Mill Creek district. The "overcrowding" has not been a problem for us. The teachers at Mill Creek are all passionate educators that meet the needs of every student. Additionally, most classes have full time aids that team teach. I believe that my child is even better attended to than is completely necessary.
We moved from one of the "best" known school districts in Boston area to Columbia due to work. My daughter had some speech challenges and needed speech therapy. In Boston, I felt the need to sit and work with my daughter daily so that she does well. She would bring a lot of unfinished work(not homework, work she was supposed to be completing when she was in class) from school. Out of habit I kept working with her in the first 6months at Millcreek but realized quickly that she seemed to be learning more at school by herself. All the work from school would be completed and she was bringing it home after it was graded. Also she seemed to be reading lot more at school and her comprehension skills were improving exponentially. Now I rarely ever have to help her with any of the schoolwork. From my perspective, Millcreek is definitely significantly better than the elementary school that she attended in Boston area.
My children have been attending this school for three years. Having experience teaching in east coast and west coast schools, I believe Mill Creek ranks among the best. We have been fortunate to have been in average sized classes with outstanding teachers. My children are excelling beyond the curriculum and being challenged with new material. I have nothing but good things to say about Mill Creek. I must admit that I do not expect the teachers to be the only ones teaching my children and realize my responsibility to make the time to expand on what they are already learning at school.
And I strongly disagree with looking into private schools in town, the only one worth looking into at all is Columbia Independent School. Curriculum at others is pathetic and they only have a good reputations because the students that go there have highly involved parents (which research has proven increases student achievement) and they can cherry pick which students they want in their school. CIS or public school are the ONLY way to go in Columbia!
Columbia is very proud of their school district, but it has serious problems with drugs, a poor graduation rate, and kids with entitlement issues. There have been rumors that new teacher hires are selected from the "middle of the pack," as these teachers are thankful to have jobs and will not "rock the boat." My wife and I have had 5 children attend Fairview, Mill Creek, Paxton Keely, Smithton, Gentry, Jeff Jr., Oakland, West Jr, Rockbridge and Hickman. They all suck. My youngest daughter attended Mill Creek K-2, beginning in 2009. Her kindergarten teacher was nice, but with 25 students, she had little time for anything but herding. By first grade my daughter started falling behind and by 2nd grade was tested at a 68% reading level. Thankfully, we moved to another state and were shocked when her reading score jumped 20 points! She is now an honor student and loves school (whereas she never wanted to go to Mill Creek even though she had many Mill Creek friends from our Thornbrook neighborhood). My advice is to consider the several private schools that have recently opened and stay away from CPS.
This school was great, but since last year when my little kid went to this school, I began to worry about the quality of education here. My kid's teacher seems treat your kids based something beyond the performance of her students. For example, she sent home a list of children's answers to her questions every day. It seems only a few special students were picked by her while others got no or little attention. After I raised this question to her, she just smiled and kept sending the same thing that shows biased attention to her students. It is understandable to give some reward to mom helpers, but sending home such student answers with obvious biased attention made me thinking about the intention of the teacher. I definitely believe that most teachers are fare about their student based on many years of experience with teachers in this school, especially teachers of third grade and above. They are all excellent teachers. But things are changing with new teachers coming in.
This school has a lot to offer but there are some things to consider. Parent involvement is high, for a large school they do a great job of building a sense of community, there are a variety of extra activities and events for students and families to enjoy together, there are some wonderfully caring teachers. What you need to know, though, is that classes are large, there are many bright and gifted children in the school but instruction is often below their ability level and the academically advanced students are not challenged, several friends with children there note that there is little science instruction (especially hands on learning). We did have a bad experience with one kindergarten teacher in particular but had a good experience with another. Overall, wishing there were more individualized instruction at the level of the children.
We moved to Columbia in April 09. My daughter finished K and began 1st grade at Mill Creek. She was very unhappy there. She is academically advanced and well behaved, and in a class of 25 students or more and 1 teacher, she was getting little to no attention. She was not challenged. She multiplies and reads 3 grade levels ahead but was stuck doing simple addition with pictures and reading beginning reader books. She dreaded school each day. She was bored and begged to change to a school 'where they will teach me something I don't know yet.' She is now in a private school and thriving. This is widely believed to be the best elem. school in town, but for us it was simply average.
We have two children at Mill Creek and love it. Parents are very active and teachers make learning fun for the students. Administrators are caring. We spent two years looking at all public and private options in Columbia and chose Mill Creek. We don't regret it.