One long-time family's opinion (2 kids, 8 years): This is a unique and earnest school, a gem certainly worth ANY family's consideration if the offered tuition arrangement is affordable. We credit school for turning our kids into social justice advocates/collaborators. They scored extremely well on standardized testing with no outside prep. Maybe they could have learned more traditional 'content' - and they read a lot at home with us - but the rich and varied education in non-traditional topics and skills is worth the trade off. There's only so much time in school. The school's values (like inclusion, multiple-perspectives and skill building) are totally appropriate for 21st century, appropriate for the very diverse group of children emerging every year from lottery admissions, and are the things which Columbia's professional graduate students are rated on. Kids need these skills early and they are more important than test scores. Content ('facts') learning comes in time to all eager learners. Don't want to imply there is no fact or content learning; just that the emphasis is often more on process than rote memorization. The teachers are enthusiastic and academic and the experienced teachers are also. Turnover is average; we've appreciated all (OK, all but one). Lots of curricular structure/ integration (presented nationally) is probably the reason for lots of 'professional development days' which DO make it hard for a working family to arrange childcare, but also probably make for happier teachers. The afterschool program is OK. The nice looking amenities are small and not a reason to dismiss or be attracted to the school. They need more outdoor time. Unsatisfied parents may have valid concerns but may reflect their values and their attitudes about education in general. My advice: understand a family's interests & goals & anxiety level before hearing their opinion on any school. I think parents who are deeply appreciative of the school's mission, and who are passionate about social justice & life long learning tend to mostly tolerate the sometimes problematic things you may read about here ("unsupportive"; the occasional 'mean kid', or 'administration is somewhat limited'.) The relationship to university seems complicated. We are responsible for a lot of stuff in kids' lives and can't leave it all to schools. What a tough job to run a school like this.
Our son just completed kindergarten at The School at Columbia University and said he wished he could start kindergarten here all over again. The teachers and facilities are excellent and there are alot of 'extras'- science fair, swimming, many trips, etc. Our son has learned alot- the science and technology programs are particularly strong.
My experience at this school was good and bad. But when you're paying full tuition, bad is is bad. It's has diversity but it's policies lack "equity" and seems to affect mostly the minority population. There is teacher turnover. The curriculum may seem superior with the Columbia connection but lacks structure and consistency depending on the teacher. If your child has any challenges be aware. They will have some accommodations but they're not consistent and the inequitable policies towards behavior or academics expectations can hinder your child. The school population consist of "Columbia teachers kids" and "community kids" which is not always unified. It is a "new-ish" school that has yet to figure out who they are and needs clear leadership to define it's identity. Unfortunately, the present Head of School has created an atmosphere which does not support community spirit or parental concerns.. I cannot say it was all bad. The school facility , cultural arts programs, few key teachers and parents were a positive experience. Tuition support is provided so if you're comparing it to a public school and you get full tuition then its a no brainer. But it's a lottery to get in. Dec 20015
It is so nice to get away from a focus on testing and instead a focus on collaboration and learning. They work hard to help your child with his/her specific style and level of learning. Not everyone is a genius and not everyone needs remedial work, it is a reflection of the real world where we all need to function eventually.
At first, this school seemed amazing, after-school, the food, facility, amenities, but alas when something seems too good to be true, it most likely is. The people that seem the happiest with this school are the lottery parents from Harlem. The Columbia parents express that the school is not rigorous enough for advance students nor is the peer group challenging & I must agree. I regret placing my kid here because it made my child regress in terms of learning. Some of the kids in 4th grade can barely read & write & how about not knowing multiplication in middle school? Too progressive. The concept is nice, but like with other schools, it's apparent why testing & screening is needed for all kids instead of taking some advance kids, some mainstream & some below average. If everyone is learning from each other, who are the advance one's learning from? The teachers were nice, but inexperienced. Not surprisingly, the head of school & the principals all have elementary aged kids that go to the highly rigorous independent privates, but if this school is so great, then why not have your kid attend? No excuses. You choose what's best. It's like a baker not eating from his own bakery.
It's wonderful to have my daughter in a school that smashes down walls through a diverse atmosphere enabling thinking outside of the box. The students emerge each day more confident in the world in which we live in able to conquer, create and lead tomorrow.
These people have no business dealing with teenage boys. Unless you have a very compliant child, do your child and family a favor and stay away from here. Some of the teachers are great, some way too fresh out of college to be working with such a cutting edge curriculum. The new head of school is completely uninvolved in the children's lives. He does not know them by name and is pretty much clueless about them.
My children use to go to this school. My one child had all great teachers while my other didn't. The kindergarten teacher wasn't warm at all she would be better off in the upper grades. As far as community feel it's not a true unless you live right in the Columbia area. As far as the admin if you were not a Columbia professor they didn't have the time for you. I was very disappointed in the school. The good things were their specials, dance, art, science, spanish and wellness but that's it. Took my kids out they are learning more than they did there.
I have a child in Kindergarten and am just amazed at the individual attention given by the highly experienced and nurturing head K teacher. She spent 26 years as a Kindergarten teacher at Hunter Elementary, and the last 10 at The School at Columbia. She called the curriculum not only "integrative" but also "differentiated" and I could not agree more. At a recent parent-teacher meeting, I was shown a thick file of my child's classroom activities, and each child's file differs considerably. At the same time, the communal spirit within the classroom is strong; the day is punctuated by songs as well as group activities in art, math, and literacy. At the moment, I could not be happier. As one reviewer said, no school is perfect, but I am thrilled that the parents seem so motivated and involved, and if there are problems ahead, I believe our voices will be heard.