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Posted February 04, 2014
- a parent
I am the parent of a rising Kindergardener, and this is our base school. The school administration's lack of responsiveness and unfriendly attitude makes me run the other direction. As any new parent, I wanted to learn more about the school. First, I emailed the principal and requested to talk with her about the school. No answer after several attempts. The staff are not knowledgeable and do not know the answer to many a typical qeustions, like observing, touring, parent orientation, etc.This school does not allow for guided tours during instructional time! There is a SELF GUIDED tour on Tuesday afternoon after school hours, but that does not allow to get good sense of the school climate, kids attitude, interatction between kids, teachers, atmosphere in class, etc. When I raised some concerns about this with a staff member, she just simply hung up the phone. I called back, another staff member clarified to me that these are school policies put in place by the prinicpal for privacy issues, end of discussion. It does not seem that our son would be happy here.
We are one of the first to do student registration, still waiting for the student ID. Other capped schools near by were able to send in long ago. And the response from school always say they are busy and swamped. if they cannot get even to the first few forms yet, wondering how long they are going to take to finish up this registration process.
This is our second year at Salem. Last year was good, but I am rating this below average because: 1) I feel that ensuring consistent teacher quality across grades is critical to student success; 2) leadership, namely principal, presence is important to show to the parents and kids. My son, my youngest child, is a 2nd grader and has the least communicative teacher I have ever encountered. Nothing is posted to the blackboard, she does not send home any newsletter, any emails or any other documentation about what is going on at the school or in the classroom. I have yet to see a homework or test grade. During orientation, it was abundantly clear that she did not know how to use a computer. I have now requested a conference in writing, by email, and by phone and have not heard back at all. I have sent an email to the principal and have not yet received a reply. Twice my son has come home with rips in his shirt because he has been chased down on the playground by the girls. If the situation were reversed, he would be in significant trouble. I have tried to tell him that this is a great learning experience but we are really discounting this year, at this point.
Nothing special about this school. I must admit I haven't been to any others but it is just so-so...testing appears to be the most important thing for the administration as is technology. If you are into that kind of thing than you'd be happy. The administrations main goal seems to be smartboards and iPads. Our test scores are good but that is all they are taught. They say science is in the curriculum but I'm not so sure. Playground is substandard with kids not having grass, balls, goals, or fields to play on. There are old playground structures which are falling apart. The playgrounds are frequented by the neighborhood flocks of geese making it their toilet. There is limited shade.
Salem Elementary is an outstanding school! The teachers and staff are very dedicated to their students and really enjoy their jobs. The administration is incredibly charismatic and knows the children and their families by name. All staff members are friendly and provide a nurturing, loving and safe school environment each and every day. The school is committed to making sure each student is successful both academically and socially. Both of our daughters have flourished at Salem and love attending school because of the expectations and environment that the staff provides.
If your kid is gifted and wants to learn more and faster, you will be most likely disappointed, as that's highly discouraged at Salem and no infrastructures for such. I had to transfer my kid to a magnet school despite almost 2 hrs on bus daily. The school's preference for mediocracy has shown in its declining tesst scores and ranking.
Academics seem pretty good here, but there are lots of good schools in this area. I give an average rating because when it comes to being progressive, Salem Elementary is below average. The school is very much about test scores and not so much about turning out well-rounded conscientious human beings. A 5-star school accomplishes both. The school does not make an effort to be a leader. They do not recycle. They don't have a wellness committee, nor are they interested in starting one. The teachers feed the kids junk food in the classroom very often, including using candy and Froot Loops for kindergarten math, and giving junk food as a reward for good behavior/work, even though this is explicitly against school board policy. They do not offer any foreign language courses at all.
We looked at public and private schools throughout the area and as soon as a spot opened up at Salem Elementary, we jumped on it for our son. The quality of instruction there is far and above what our peers are paying tens of thousands of dollars for at private schools. Where the district fails, parents step in and make up the difference, whether it's funding for more smartboards or volunteering to provide more work with gifted students in math and science. Parent volunteers really make this place tick. When testing end of grade testing preparations made it difficult for teachers to find enough time to support a science fair, a parent stepped in and made it happen as an extra curricular. When the number of students involved in AG swelled, parents stepped in to work with those students in math. The school's Scrabble club (started by the librarian) produced 2 national champions. The school had a month long educational effort around space which culminated in a live Q&A session with astronauts aboard the International Space Station.
Both our daughter (who is now a middle schooler) and our son, both who are special needs children absolutely love(d) Salem Elementary. The staff all the way from the principle down to the teachers and support staff really care about the children. They go above and beyond to make sure each gets a good education and support when they need it.
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