The college school has provided an extraordinary education experience for my kids. The whole child is fully developed throughout the "journey" of the school and each year we are there, I am only more amazed at the curriculum, the staff and the faculty capabilities and the awesome parent community. I would highly recommend this school!
Parents at The College School are asked throughout the year to contribute money beyond the (already high) mandatory tuition and fees. Those families who elect not to contribute additional money should not expect to have their concerns taken seriously by school administrators. TCS devotes a disproportionate amount of its resources towards more showy aspects that aid in its marketing efforts, such as outdoor experiential education, and cutting edge technology. Though state and county parks abound throughout the region, TCS spends millions of dollars on its own, private rural property, while its teacher salaries and benefits fall short of those offered by many other independent schools. Some of the faculty are top-notch, but too many teachers at TCS are uncertified. Other teachers and administrators are hired or remain for years in spite of their mediocrity, largely because of their ability to perpetuate the culture and hype of the school’s self-satisfied self-image.
The school presents itself as a place of integrity, but its programs are extraordinarily expensive. The children are not made aware that they are receiving a brand of education that is only available to the ultra elite.
Be careful about trusting this school with your children and your money. There is no apparent accountability in the spending of funds (such as the "adventure education fee" that is not allotted to teachers budgets, but is considered additional tuition without any transparency as to its use.) Teachers are sent to expensive professional development trainings (such as Hawaii or New York) with unclear (if not unlimited) budgets for food and drink, and no consistent expectation of sharing their learning with colleagues. We observed a lack of care for socioeconomic diversity when the admissions office informed us that our son was "not the right type of diversity to be eligible for a scholarship." Their "sustainability" efforts are not present in many classrooms, such as Kindergarten where the teacher throws away partially used art supplies and learning materials every year. One classroom "lost" a student who ended up walking more than two miles home. My son was unable to be located once during ASP (after school program) because of a lack of communication and safety procedures within the staff. And I have repeatedly observed at least one teacher yell at and degrade the students. When that behavior was brought to the attention of the administration, it was simply disregarded. Many teachers possess no certification and others are placed in positions which they are neither certified nor qualified in teaching. Teachers are not observed teaching and can really do whatever they want. Hiring and firing is done by the Head of School based on what he calls "a feeling" rather than quantifiable objectives. The Head of School has no administrative or elementary experience, and the result is a poorly run business that is more concerned with making money than providing young children with a safe and nurturing environment. Shame on them.
The College School is a remarkable school. Their approach nurtures the whole child through solid academics and emotional and social development. The teacher's dedication and commitment shows in every interaction they have with our children. If you don't know much about experiential education, please do not confuse it with "experimental" education. There is a solid curriculum foundation that supports additional theme based work. I'm constantly amazed at how many lessons can be woven into a simple field trip. My children are learning much more than the rote basics. They are picking up a deeper understanding of how the world works at a much earlier age than I did. Themes of community, business, ecology, interpersonal communication, respect and cooperation are woven into the daily routine. I also see my children developing creative problem solving skills and independence. I will admit, I was skeptical at first as to whether paying tuition was the right thing for our family. I can say without a doubt that the College School has been worth every penny.
I love this school. Kids are valued here for the unique people they are. kids love coming to school each day. They feel connected and important. The academics are strong, authentic and meaningful The kids are often involved in real projects in which their research, writing, math and science skills are all applied. They have a lot of choice in their own learning, which engages them from the get-go. The feeling of community at The College School is evident from the moment one walks through the doors. Older kids are paired with a younger 'buddy' and they get a chance to read with them and guide them. Art, drama, music, Spanish and PE are all offered to students. Each eighth grader delivers an amazing speech at graduation. Their speeches really sum up what The College School does for kids whether it's building academic skills, self-esteem, or social skills. The BEST school!
As a parent as alum I can say with all honesty that this school is one of the best in the St. Louis area and in my opinion, in the country. It challenges every child to excel to the best of their capabilities which often are far beyond what the student thought they could achieve. The College School weaves math, LA, science and social studies into their curriculum seamlessly that students often don't know that they are learning vast amounts of knowledge. While I cant say every child will graduate will self assurance and confidence, I can say that most will. They move well into a secondary school of their choosing and are successful. Students from The College School almost always go to on to college. These are highly motivated lifelong learners that graduate from this grade school.
The College School is incredibly diverse in every aspect. The Reggio learning perspective works so well. Not only are the kids getting a full education but they are also well rounded. There are so many various learning aspects. Math is experimented through hands on projects. Language Arts are amazing. Journals at TCS is like drinking water you need it for survival. The kids enjoy writing. They could be sitting at a campsite which is also part of the curriculum journaling about the shooting star they just saw or the hike they took earlier. There are endless life lessons at TCS. Drama teaches students through plays confidence and speaking. Juggling, unicycles, balancing to name a few are part of the drama curriculum. TCS offers an array of opportunities. The teachers at TCS treat the children independence and confidence. You never fail everyone is different. The parent involvement is endless. Love it.