There are obvious classism and racism issues at this school. Most of the fellow parents are cliquey and form their exclusive groups. PTA does not make all parents feel welcome to contribute. Sometimes new kids are excluded by children and I have personally seen some parents who encouraged such behavior in their children. Gym teacher is unnecessarily strict and impersonal. I have almost never seen him smile in three years we spent at Watchung! Most teachers are average at best. We are at a different Montclair school now and as a mixed race couple, we feel welcome and part of the school community. My son comes home happy every day from school. Watchung unfortunately does not have cohesive and supportive environment where every child is valued and every parent is respected.
Large classrooms (over 23 students in a class) is not conducive to higher education. But if your child has a strong personality, they will do well. If your child is shy, quiet, polite or have other 'issues', they will be swallowed up, fall through the cracks or basically just passed. The gym teacher is really strict and kills the fun out of recess and gym. It is not necessary to have kids line up 12 minutes before recess (especially if all they have is like 25 minutes which includes lunch time!) is over and to have kids be completely still and silent all standing with their toes lined up perfectly on the yellow/white line before they are allowed to walk quietly and in perfect military order, one head completely invisibly behind another head back into school. He needs to relax and let kids run around and let loose before they need to go back to having sit completely still in class...again, depending on the teacher.
My child came home from 2nd grade almost every day without homework or papers to show what they've learned in class-throughout the week and nothing noted in his very nice but empty homework assignment pad. I've noticed the other classroom teacher in the same 2nd grade was giving homework and her class coming out with handfuls of projects, posters and much to my chagrin, my friends complaining about all the homework their child was getting but it was good - I knew it all depends on the teacher that your child has. My experience thus is that there was no homework and any project that was done/completed/assigned-it was done at home meaning, my child learned absolutely nothing in second grade. Whatever he learned, he learned at home with me. My child learned absolutely nothing in his 2nd grade year at Watchung school.
Like any school, private or public, it's all dependent upon the actual teacher teaching your child in the classroom. We've had 60/40 experience with the pot luck of teachers at the Watchung School. For example, my child had 3 language arts teachers in 7 months due to the original LA teacher being on maternity leave-only to come back right after the PARRC exams were administered and when she came back, her mind wasn't on teaching. It was still with her new born baby-wished she would have stayed home but then she would have lost her tenured. Also...Since we just moved to the district, they put my other child at Watchung School in a class where the teacher was just an awful teacher but personally very nice as a person. For example, she didn't tell me that my child did not do daily math worksheets (over 120 pages!) until late February during our second parent-teacher conference! She said she wasn't concerned bc he was so smart and she knew he could do it. :-< what about discipline, responsibility and reinforcement?!? -obviously she had no control in the class. Her approach is more free flowing whereas my child needed more structure. I took the workbook home to complete. I've found that he did know most of the math but needed help and had gaps in his learning like telling time and measurement, but I was glad I made him take the time to do all the work he missed out on! It was reinforcing what he already knew and we took time learning areas where he needed help in. Sounds a lot like home schooling here but that's exactly what needs to be done if you get a teacher that's not a good teacher. So I have Watchung School a poor rating bc these are major, core subjects-not music, art or greenhouse. Oh, the greenhouse is nothing to be excited about. The teacher is lovely but again, some students bond and some students get left behind base on their relationship with the teacher. If your child is among the selected and chosen, they may get a more in dept education in what this greenhouse is all about. Otherwise, don't hold your breath. There are a handful of really good teachers-lucky if you get any of them. But new and transfer students obviously get placed in a class with the more undesirerable teachers. Thus, I've moved to Montclair, had my children in Montclair school - Watchung School for a year and now transferred them out and into private school a few blocks away.
Some teachers are amazing...like 4th grade math and other teachers like 4th grade language arts teacher and 2nd grade teacher is...blah...after coming back from maternity leave, her mind is not with her class or with the children. Or you might get s teacher with a whole slew of personal issues so their own attendance is spotty - abc when they are in class, bc of their personal/family issues/deaths/et cetera, kids don't learn anything. But that's with any school. But my rating is for watching school-and base on my experience of having 2 kids go through Watchung school.
Depends on whether your child is favored child or not in a class with your child's particular teacher. But overall, the teachers do strive to be nice and fair with all the students. This is also the job of the principal. Hopefully, Watchung school will have s good/better principal come in; this my neutral rating right now.
Like all schools, (kids will learn honesty and integrity at home and fairness in school), it's all dependent on the actual teacher teaching your child; not talking at them to get through their curriculum. Hopefully your child will be placed with a good teacher and not in a class with the undesirerable teacher with all 13 transfer/new students in one class in your child's grade. Hopefully, the new principal will be much better at Watchung School. I don't know who that will be or how it will change but my rating will be poor for Watchung School until ALL the major core classroom teachers from kindergarten through 5th grade (I'm talking about language arts, math and science) will be good teachers. Please-no teachers back from maternity leave-their minds are just not with the class and no teachers that just bc they're tenured, they get bounced here and there. I know these can't be helped, this my poor rating bc these issues are very real issues effecting our children in the classroom. I've found the resource teachers/the child study team teachers are actually excellent at Watchung School.
It seems to me that the rating has been dropping since 2009 as the principal situation has been unstable since about that time. Underwhelmed with current principal. Preferred Dr. T who stayed for 2 years before moving into assitant superintendent position in Newark.
I've got to say that my feelings have changed about the school, now that my child is in 4th grade. Up until this point, I have been happy. However, this year I think that the way in which the students are taught in 4th grade (switching teachers) combined with an overly zealous language arts teacher and a lack of understanding as to how to effectively integrate differentiated learning on the part of the teachers, has led to a an inapproriately competitive environment. As a parent, I am very frustrated this year, but overall, I do think Watchung's academics are more like Glen Ridge's than like the rest of Montclair, for better or worse.