My 7th grade son is not a great fit for public schools but is a perfect fit for TD. He is very bright, but needs a small class size and excellent teachers in order to engage. He also is not savvy enough to thrive in the public schools' social pecking order. He attended a well respected Blue Ribbon public school through 6th grade where he was an honor student. Academically, TD is significantly more challenging. The faculty expect the children to work hard - 2 hours per night + 4 hours per weekend typical homework -- and to behave. The structure, workload, and challenging academic environment have been a huge challenge for my son, but HE LOVES THIS SCHOOL. After 3 quarters, he finally made honor roll, an accomplishment that required hard work rather than coasting. The school is beautiful and eclectic - small class sizes, excellent and respected teachers, and a headmaster who knows every child and supports every teacher. This year, I've had to work with my child to teach him organizational skills and study strategies. I was much more involved in my son's public school and have yet to become involved in TD's PTO, so I cannot comment on parental involvement at the school.
My child spent a year here. The teachers were mostly good. Some were very good. The headmaster was problematic, and that's a theme you'll see in reviews. My child had problems with bullies. Unfortunately one of the bully's parents were on the board, so we got no support. The headmaster seemed to believe that my child was at fault for being different, and that "kids will do that". This was despite multiple other children reporting bullying. You couldn't pay me to send my child back. I appreciate that others may be happy with the school, but I cannot tolerate bullies, nor administrators who ignore (and seemingly support) bullying.
My son has been going to Thorton Donovan since 2004. I love this school and so does my son. Tuition is affordable and reasonable. The school caters to all families of various socioeconomic backgrounds who wants the best for their child(ren). TD is home away from home. The staff are awesome. They work hard and dedicate their time to teach the students. There were some teachers who came and left for whatever reason, TD continued to move on as well as the students. For those who meet Mr. Flemming for the first time, don't feel offended, upset or puzzled. Get to know Mr. Flemming first and you will find out how terrific he is. Good behavior and respect is a must. Its true that the school does not have a traditional PE but do have areas for kids to play sports due to an updated field. As for travel, I am glad to allow my son to travel internationally to connect his studies. TD may not be for everyone because it is different from all other private schools.
I don't want to sound repetitve, but the previous comments by parents seem to hit the nail on the head, or at least, are perfectly consistent with my experiences. That is, T-D is a unique school for kids who: don't fit it elsewhere, are unique, or march to the beat of their own drummer. I think this is especially true of the high school. Which certainly is an appropriate description of my child. There is no beaucracy at T-D. Most functions are handled by the school secretary. The teachers, like any school, are hit or miss, with probably more good than bad. Contrary to what other parents have said, I don't see a large turnover in teachers. The heart and passion of the school is driven by the most colorful headmaster, Mr. Fleming. Parents, in general, are viewed as an obstruction to Mr. Fleming, so please try not to annoy him. On the other hand, he has amassed impressive wisdom through his decades of experience in edcation. His personality is synonomous with the school, which is (probably) a good thing.
Teachers seem to be brilliant enough though extremely "cliquey". Lower school director has her favorites (which is quite evident in the hallways) and this seems to be the cas with the students as well. Glad my child is graduating and moving on to a more mature atmosphere!
Several have remarked that T-D has very high teacher turnover. This is probably because you can't live in NYS on the salaries they offer teachers, and the school offers no health insurance for employees. Not a good way to treat your teachers. To put it kindly, the headmaster is an "odd bird." Plus, from my research, the school is not accredited by any reputable governing body like NAIS or NYSAIS.
I went to Thornton Donovan, grades 7-12. It may have been some 24 years ago but some of the most inspirational teachers that I ever had are STILL THERE! Mr Griffin and Mrs Petrosino! After Thornton Donovan I went to a good college, got my BA in 4 years flat, and have enjoyed a very successful career. The great people at Thornton Donovan helped to prepare and build the foundations of MY LIFE.
My children both attended the Lower School and one left after 8th grade to attend a larger high school. They both felt like they were part of a family and enjoyed the fun projects, including international travel, linked to the country of study each year. They knew my kids very well, understood how they learned and seemed to really care about them. For this, I consider their time at TD to have been a gift. The kids are diverse, some brilliant and unusual. No cliques or other typical school issues. An eclectic group with an assortment of interests. As for the lack of gym, my kids ran around every day at recess and were more active than ever there. That constant exercise was much more important to me than a structured gym class at their ages. Kids can still participate in their local sports programs, which one of my kids did. It's a special place but not for everyone. Great for a child who is smart and travels to the beat of his own drummer. It doesn't offer the full programs of a larger school, but what it does offer is very special.
I like Thornton-Donovan. However, one should understand that it is an iconoclastic school for iconoclastic children. If you have a child who marches to his or her own drummer, this might be the school for you. There is no large institutional bureaucracy with which to deal as the headmaster runs the school unilaterally. This can be either a good or bad thing depending on whether the headmaster likes or dislikes your child. The headmaster understands children with unusual talents and will go out of his way to accommodate them as long as they behave reasonably. He's not particularly fund of parents although he'll put up with them as long as THEY behave reasonably. if you want a place where a child can learn without school getting in his or her way, take a look at TD.
Staff turnover at TD is due largey in part to teachers being lured away by higher salaries and better health benefits. All staff members must hold a Masters Degree with most now holding Doctorate Degrees. Class size is kept small so that students may have the differentiated instruction so important in education today. Expectations and accountablity are held high for all in grades K-12. It appears that those with unfavorable reviews didn't have the same expectations for their child as the staff/faculty did!
I am a parent of a child in the lower school. I have read through some of the negative reviews and some of the information posted is just not true. There is P.E., there is outdoor recess (my son comes home with grass stains from playing football everyday to prove it!), and the facilities are beautiful and lovely old homes (not cold and clinical like most other schools). Yes, there is no gym, put the school is currently under construction for beautiful new playing fields, basketball courts, etc. There is tremendous structure, with room for creativity, in the lower school. The headmaster, Doug Flemming is a warm, welcoming and wonderful man. Agreed, a bit eccentric, but it's his independent spirit that permeates the school and is responsible for it's open and creative culture. A very unique and special learning environment. We're hooked!
I had 2 kids in the lower school for about 3 years. I found the teachses to be very well rounded at knowledgeable. However, as another parent pointed out they do have problems retaining and attracting good teachers. The facilities are also mediocre at best. The real problem here however is the headmaster, who does plays favorite with the kids and refuses to listen to the parents. I went to TD with high hopes and left disappointed.
Im a new student at t-d & everyone is so welcoming & helpful also really friendly they make you feel part of the family right away the teachers are great & the head master Mr.Flemming is just such a great guy hes so fun & his sense of humor is really refreshing & he knows its also important to laugh & have fun other than always being serious but don't get me wrong if u screw up uh oh ! But hes a great guy and i feel really safe there & im hoping to stay there as long as i possibly can.
I've been a high school student for about a year now and I don't know much about the lower school. I'll say, it's unusual. I sometimes wish that they had a slightly structured curriculum. And about extra currics and sports, they have none, which is a real disappointment. But those are the things I don't like. What I do like is the amazing close knit community. I also love that it gives you an education, not just in academics, but in life and morals. The headmaster is probably the strangest man I've ever met, but that doesn't matter to me. If you're looking for a close knit community with great morals, go to it. If you want structure, definitely do not!
Thornton Donovan is a peculiar school. Classes are small, tuition is reasonable, but as said, there are no extracurricular activities. The low tuition leads to 'get what you pay for' directly, as the facilities aren't great. There is no Gym, lunchtime in cafeteria consists of watching a cartoon on a small TV for an hour. Teachers who are there long time are good, but they are having trouble hiring and retaining for the most part, especially in the Lower School. Again, must be due to low tuition. They need to spend money and get and keep good teachers. Principal is an odd bird, meet him, you'll see what I mean.
T-D is terrific! No other school here has 10-15 kids per class. Each student receives truly individualized attention. The Headmaster has been there 40 years, and some teachers have been there decades. We spoke to the Headmaster and faculty to map out courses that fit our child specifically. Discipline is straightforward. In a school this size, the faculty and administration become aware of everything. The comment below about sports is true. The School's size makes competitive sports impossible. But students can participate in local leagues (e.g., little league, etc.) The School also has great international character. Every year they focus on a country and study it and travel to it. If you want a School that is small enough to give your child individualized attention yet big enough to give her a chance to become immersed in different cultures and literally travel the world, this is it!
This school is just horrible. There is no physical education and no extra curricular activities. So there is no prospect of your child getting any type of sports scholarship. Another thing is that when they have school field trips mostly in the middle and high school the parents have no permission slip to sign. Also with these field trips the kids have to find there own way there. When they go to the city to visit museums they have to find there own way, be it the train or public bus. The headmaster is also very uninvolved in the academic areas of the school. Over all I would not recommend this school to anyone.
I had two children at this school. One in the elementary grades and one in middle school. The elementary school is fine but the middle and high school is terrible. They have a very hard time recruiting and retaining teachers and the result is a staff that is very weak. Some know their subjects, but very few are trained teachers who know how to reach different types of kids. There is no system of discipline in the school other than turning kids against each other. There is virtually no supervision and kids in grades from 6 to 12 are free to mix with each other. The headmaster plays favorites partially based on donations. There are no extra curricular activities to speak of and no real phys ed.
Thornton-Donovan school is by far, more than I could have ever asked for, in educating my son. It is difficult to find words great enough to describe this school. Some schools claim that their school is like a 'family', but TD IS A FAMILY! My son has received the greatest education, the absolute greatest. . .more than I could have ever dreamed possible! 4 years of Russian, Marine Biology, Forensics, Pirates, Trains and MUSIC, MUSIC, MUSIC! The TDer's have traveled & performed in many countries. The Arts Night Cafe performances will be some of my most treasured memories for the rest of my life! Any parent reading this. . . GO THERE! And do what ever it takes to get your child into this marvelous school. Tomorrow, my son graduates and will be going to college, so it is through tears, that I write this. Oh, I will miss TD!
Thornton-Donovan has made learning for our son as fun and as interactive as he can handle. Every student here gets special attention because they are special people! We had the choice of enrolling our son into public school, or paying for his education at Thorton-Donovan. The attention he has gotten, and the grade levels he has been able to achieve, far outweigh what a public school education has to offer. The staff here is excellent, and the students and their families, feel as if they are extended families of my own. If you are considering a private education for your little one(s), Don't walk, run, to Thorton-Donovan school. Your children will thank you for it when they grow up, with the tools to control their own future.
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