This is a safe place to share your honest opinions of a school, whether good or bad.
Success Academy Upper West5
Posted August 11, 2014
- a parent
My son just completed K at SAUW and so far we are VERY impressed. My child came in reading and being able to do some math, and his teacher went out of her way to keep him busy and engaged. My son loves science every day. He loves block time and recess, art and sports. At the end of the year he was reading at level L and able to do simple multiplication, division and fractions. We honestly believe this school is better than any local public and possibly the district gifted programs as it has the ability to teach each child at his or her own levels in small groups. In addition to the academics, SAUW is doing an amazing job to foster my child's creativity, curiosity and love and excitement about school and learning. The teachers are amazing, caring and enthusiastic. Despite having a traditional approach to discipline, we find the curriculum to be quite progressive with large project-based learning units and frequent field trips. If you are considering the school, I urge you to tour and talk to current parents. We highly recommend SAUW.
I Have 4 Children in this School and they constantly tell me things about this School that they have not Said about their previous School.This School severely lacks Creativity on its Educational Process.It seems to want to push out Assembly line students rather than Scholars which it is innapropriately named After.1st opportunity I get I am pulling my Children out and enrolling them in a School that can address their Creative/Educational needs.Besides that,this School Strongly discourages Parent involvement.
This school does poorly with inteligent children with special needs. My child was beaten up by other children in this school and although staff witness this, they deny it during a meeting. My child failed at all the tests given in class but when given the opportunity to take the test with special accomodations (after asking for accomodations all year long and finally getting approved on his last test of the year), my child superpassed the class average grade by more than 15%, and still they argued that my child did not need accomodations.
The academics at Success Academy Upper West are stellar. Success Academy hires a very specific kind of teacher: enthusiastic, energetic and engaging/lively. Unlike public schools, they have the power to let teachers who do not meet their standards go. The longer school day packs much more education into the academic year (more in four days than public schools teach per week). Lastly: STEM education is like nothing else in the public or private school system. In public and private elementary schools (including schools with a science focus and/or accelerated curriculum), science is considered a 'special' subject taught periodically (e.g. weekly) to older children. At Success Academy it is a core subject taught by a science teacher daily, hands-on, featuring data collection and analysis -- beginning in kindergarten. Many parents find daily experimental science instruction to be quite forward-thinking. And playing scientist every day has wild appeal for children. There are long wait lists for Success Academy Upper West which attest to the appeal of the school for UWS parents. Our son is thriving in this rigorous school. We only wish we could get our older son in as well!
Generally we have been happy with the school. The focus on academics is impressive. However there are a few areas where the policies go overboard in the pursuit of an orderly classroom. The teachers spend a lot of time correcting behaviors that are not disruptive to the learning environment. For example, students are required to keep their hands in their laps while listening to the teacher. Touching your face or other self-comforting actions are not allowed. Student are afforded precious little time to choose their own activity (clearly there's recess, but even that can be directed activities). As far as I know there's never a time when the students can selcect their own classroom activity, whether it be reading, drawing, math, etc. students are really are really never allowed to move freely around the classroom. Even during dance party breaks they must remain at their desks. All of these things may appear minor, but the bigger issue is that most of these things are the result of network-wide policies. And network-wide policies are not up for debate. From the principal on down the party line is "that's just how it is".
Upper West Success is a godsend for us. My son is thriving at the school. I could not be more pleased. The staff from the Leadership on down is professional and committed to providing the best possible education for the scholars. While we had the opportunity to attend another great school we were pleased to be accepted. We attended the open House and never looked back.
My son is in K at SAUW. We couldn't have been more thrilled. We were nervous about having him in K since he is on the younger side, but he has completely blossomed. In addition to the constant feedback we get from the teachers and the random phone calls to thank me for our diligence with our son, we get many assessments all year long so I know how he's doing. His teachers are caring, attentive, and loving. My son has developed a sense of pride in his work. We also love that the school is so diverse in every meaning of the word, yet every family has the same goal: a great education for their child! It's a unifying theme. We couldn't be happier to have our older son there and look forward to registering our younger son when he gets to K.
We love this school. We have struggled a bit with the long day and my kindergartener is not always capable of listening throughout the day, but we have no doubts about how happy he is and how much he is learning. It is very exciting to hear about his enthusiasm for science, reading and all of his teachers. I sometimes worry that it is all just too much for the kids, but he keeps telling me that I am wrong and that they have lots of chances to have fun during the day at recess (2 times), sports, art, assemblies, field trips, and random times where they play dance party or sing together. I feel very fortunate to be able to send my child to this school to get a great education in a great setting, rather than at his zoned school (that is nearly failing).
There may be more than 25 students per class, but there are also two teachers assigned to the class, a lead teacher and an assistant teacher. What the poster below fails to mention is that the students are usually instructed in much smaller groups (in separate rooms) for reading (based on their level) and math, where the ratio is usually 5-7 students per teacher. Also, the students have specials--such as science, blocks, chess, sports and art--every day in well apportioned rooms. All the classrooms are clean, organized and bright. The school environment is safe, orderly and nurturing, which is very conducive to learning!
The classes are huge, about 30 kids, and the teachers are very inexperienced. Furthermore, the principal took a class the DOE gave the school for a kindergarten class and made it her office. Then put 30 kinder kids on what used to be her office, a tiny space about 1/3 as big as what the class should have been. Not the sign of a principal who puts the kids first.