We have been pleasantly surprised with this school. The teachers are reachable and 6th graders have anouth time and guidance to adapt into the new system. My 6th grader transferred from a private school environment and I confess that I was nervous about the transition, but so far, have had only good experiences.
The overall experience was very poor as was the quality of the education. Our son is on the autism spectrum. The school environment is not tailored to him. His class included children with a range of abilities, he was expected to travel and function w/in the everyday hustle and bustle of the school, and his homeroom teacher did not communicate during the year. Our son did not get any homework & he lost an entire academic year here. There was no transition prep for him into this school which is vital for him. The one opportunity we had to meet with his homeroom teacher he basically explained that this was a life skills based program that would not focus too much on academics. The district's special education services while he was in elementary were wonderful, he attended a great school with a great teacher. Our issues started at the middle school and their inability to accommodate a child with his needs. We were diligent in seeking out a private school that was more geared for his needs, but his case manager needed a great deal of pushing on our end to get results.
SOMS has been an incredible disappointment to our family on many levels. There are some great teachers, but in the classes of some other teachers, our child receives homework assignments that leave us scratching our heads and wondering, "What's the point?" We had hopes that under the new principal, things might improve. Rather the changes that have been made this year have been even more alarming. Especially troubling is added busywork in the classrooms and at home. We had hoped that, under the new principal, a more progressive approach would be adopted. Indeed, there was much hoopla upon his arrival to indicate such would be the case. Instead, we find the school further mired in rubrics and less interested in accurately assessing whether students are truly learning what they need to learn to be successful individuals. On a bright note, the arts and music programs continue to thrive. Hopefully, that will continue, as those programs are among the few areas less governed by misguided measuring sticks and in which the students seem to be learning valuable life skills and acquiring knowledge that will serve them beyond the next round of standardized tests.
Since the first day of school in 2010 SOMS didn't respond well to a transportation blunder. They also did not relay an important message and as a result my child was not at the designated pick up. In addition administrators have questionable priorities in regards to student discipline. Disciplining a child twice for the same occurrence is not setting high expectation and high performance.
South Orange Middle School is where our kids matured and were able to nurture great freindships in a warm and caring environment. The principal Mr. Smith is very caring and his efforts to know every child's name reflects his going above and beyond to help solve any issues that arise. The staff is dedicated and caring as well and the teachers are selected for their ability to engage and incite learning in these challenging pre teen years. There have been just 2 or three teachers here we did not care for, but this does not diminish the wonderful instructors who have guided our kids. If you ask me they should get rid of Home Ec and replace it (and the instructor) with Environmental Studies. WE are very happy at SOMS and could not have asked for a better experience.