Our children attended Gaston Day before moving to PES. We have liked PES better - smaller class sizes and poorer performing teachers are mostly gone (although be prepared to supplement where needed). It is amazing the children feel like they are part of a community and support each other across the grade levels (plus k-8 only is so much better), so the learning atmosphere is just right. Sports opportunities are better for PES students (ie PES students play whereas other schools kids ride the bench). What PES could improve on is its sophistication with addressing low performing aspects of curriculum and/or teachers, and have a far better growth plan. We will keep our children at PES because we know PES challenges are manageable compared to other schools (where many of these same challenges exist, but the student community and learning environment is not at the level PES experiences year over year), the classes will remain very small and tailored to learning, and the better teachers PES is attracting and retaining will, over the long term, provide its students with an optimal environment that most other schools in the area have been unable to foster as a school culture.
I toured 3 Christian schools before deciding on Palisades. All 3 offered similar teaching philosophies and class sizes, but Palisades struck me as the one place where forgiveness, a key Christian aspect, was practiced. And that has been true of our experience. My son is a normal, active child, and they work with him and the other boys to help them learn to manage their activity. Generally, girls are more willing to sit still, and in many schools, the boys are judged against a girl standard of behavior, but not here. The love shown to the younger children by the older children is heart-warming. My son loved one of the 8th graders so much that he invited him to his birthday party--and the 8th grader CAME! It's a newer school, so it doesn't have flashy facilities. I didn't care about that. I'm not into status symbols of any kind. I wanted a school where my moral standards at home would be supported at school. He can learn reading, writing, and math anywhere--but it's the way people treat each other that matters to me. I see the difference at the local playground--most kids are horrendous to others, including adults. I don't see that at Palisades.
PES is a fantastic environment that enables my kid to be cool being smart. I have a 6th grader that tries to teach me about the use of distributive properties , explains the jokes that he can say in Latin and is working feverishly on the piano to learn Billy Joel s Piano Man for the talent show because his classmates think it s really cool. He and several of his classmates were awarded the Duke Tip award. I couldn t be happier about how cool it is at PES.
For too long we hoped that PES would become the great school it professed to be. While there, the math program changed direction four times. Writing and grammar were afterthoughts in the classroom. Project-based learning was another catch-phrase like core knowledge--intended to impress but not implemented. Curriculum questions were often skirted. Specials like Latin are time-gap fillers, and teacher turnover was high. Communication was a constant struggle. Some classrooms were chaotic, and too often classroom management reflected poor judgement and leadership. The facility is disappointing. Parents were asked not to discuss their concerns with others. And students who have left report struggling to catch up. Do your homework when choosing schools. Ask to observe (not just tour). Ask how test scores are utilized (good schools share scores and use them to make improvements). Ask for examples of writing; ask to see text books/materials used; ask teachers about their classroom experience. And ask for examples of problem solving (i.e., recognizing learning challenges, discipline strategies, individualized learning). Be an advocate for your student's academic success.
I love our school and all that it has done for our kids. I love to see how our children have grown with their friends, teachers and community. It is going to be a sad day when they go to graduate but their reward will be in the knowledge, confidence and love of learning they will take into their future. There is no other place like Palisades Episcopal School.
Palisades Episcopal School continues to allow our children to make gains, academically, athletically, spiritually and socially. We came from a previously mentioned public school where we were just a number. Our children were straight A students just memorizing information. The teachers at PES are very much certified and majority have their Masters Degrees. The test scores are high, but not every child can be in the 99th percentile. Our children are challenged and if a child needs additional help the teachers can direct them to the services needed. The current families are actively involved, realistic and loving. We came from a school with over 1000 students and were lucky to see 10% involvement. For families that continue to pressure their children to have perfect lives, perfect grades, perfect friends and perfect test scores PES may not be for you, but the hundreds of other schools out there will not be for you either. This school is a blessing and the current children and graduates continue to amaze us.
Although I wholeheartedly agree with the vision and mission of this school, I am deeply disappointed that they are failing to meet not only the high standards they have set for themselves, but even the basic academic standards we would have expected for our children at any school (private or public). You cant look at the standardized testing scores PES uses as a relevant marker bc IOWA testing is not used by any other valued private school in the Charlotte area. (This is not a coincidece). Poor standardized testing scores and failure of the lower grades to thrive given the small class sizes is directly related to the fact that the teachers are inexperienced (many of them not even certified teachers). Besides failing academically, the social and emotion needs of the children are not being addressed. There is constant strife and drama in the upper grades, bullying amongst kids in younger grades and no evidence that any of the teachers or leaders are willing to step in. If you're considering this school...Ask questions about standardized test scores, family turnover and teacher experience and credentials before you sign up!
PES is a school that will continue thrive as a community school. This is something that is lacking elsewhere as parents drive their children all of the county and out of the county to attend other schools. I love that my children are attending school with friends and familes from Steele Creek, Lake Wylie and Fort Mill and that they can continue friendships after school as well. We are in our fifth year at the school and are amazed at the curriculum. The current families are very actively involved and comitted to the school and the children. The teachers and faculty are phenemonal. We have family visit from out of town and they cannot believe the level of work our children are engrossed in. In comparison to other schools I love that the children are not cramming and memorizing facts just to pass a test...they are actively learning and applying information. The national test scores are based on children that just come to school and apply their knowledge. This test is not something they study for as they already know the information. Investing in this strong program will not disappoint. We can't wait for the upcoming year.
My son just completed his first year at the Palisades Episcopal School and I am blown away by the difference one year makes! The Palisades Episcopal School has exceeded every expectation that we had as parents for our child. The hands-on, differentiated learning atmosphere along with the intimate clasroom size and low teacher-to-student ratio has been a perfect fit for us! My son is reading two grade levels above his current grade and he just finished Kindergarten! I cannot say enough about the amazing teachers who really are the heart of our school. All you need is to take a tour and you will feel the difference. People ask me all the time what makes the Palisades Episcopal School so unique and so wonderful. The short and easy answer is EVERYTHING. Everything about PES is unique and amazing. I could go on for days with my long answer to that question!
After 4 years in public school, we chose Palisades Episcopal School when we realized our daughter needed something more in her educational experience. In her first year at PES, she has been consistently engaged and challenged to do her best. We were so impressed with the school that we moved our son to the JK program after the first of the year. Both of our children have flourished in their academics as well as their spirituality and citizenship. At PES, children are seen as individuals with their own gifts to be nurtured. Teachers meet children where they are academically and help them grow in their own time. Lessons are often hands-on and not dictated by the writers of a textbook. Real world resources are utilized and time out of the classroom experiencing the lesson is just as important as the lesson itself. Growth is gauged by comprehensive review of the student s work. This approach has given us a better picture of how and what our children are learning. If you value individuality, rich curriculum topics and a community of respect not just for others but also for the art of education, then you will want to give Palisades Episcopal School a closer look.