I was a member of the first class to go from kindergarten to fifth grade at CPSC (graduated in 2009), and had an amazing 6 years while at the school. I wouldn't trade my experience there for anything. The school's original principal made it a top priority to have a diverse staff and a diverse student body. It was important to her that teachers of color would be hired to act as role models to less advantaged students. The student body was diverse, and kids came from all backgrounds. The class projects were captivating, and we were often plenty of responsibility and freedom.
However, it seems that the school has changed a lot since I've been there. As opposed to being around a 50/50 split of white people and minorities when I attended, white students make up 80+% of the school's population. Students who graduated years after me told me of the school's changes. Diversity seemed to be a stated priority, and Central Park is moving closer toward being just another 'progressive' private school masked as a charter, a la Voyager.
Although I had a wonderful experience at Central Park, it seems that it was a wholly different one than today's students will receive.
I have read the latest reviews and I respectively disagree with their perspective. This school is a safe haven for people who want an advocacy environment for their child. After being exhausted with the bureaucracy of Durham Public Schools, it is wonderful to be able to simply ask for what your child needs and have people who not only care, but who will work with you to figure out a way to get it. This school exemplifies the phrase, "where there is a will, there is a way". We need more schools committed to this approach.
Great teachers and philosophy but the Principal and Board have created an atmosphere that is hostile to any child and family that they feel is not "right" for their school. Staff who try to stand up are retaliated against. This is not a public school serving all children but an elistist private school using public dollars.
Admin. more concerned with image than with effectiveness teaching. High EOG test scores more a reflection of the high socio-eco. status of students than of quality of education received here. No surprise that children with (non-school) enrichment opportunities score well on tests. This school is not producing high performing children so much as its collecting them out of a poorer Durham student population. School policies, such as not providing transportation, ensure school remains a safe haven for parents whose support for diversity is bumper-sticker thin. EC program- different director almost every year, high staff turnover, low training, little accountability. Durham parents of special needs kids choose the school for same reasons as non EC parents, they've prioritized social environment over education. Parents stridently trumpeting this school show how little understanding they have about how the environment they've created shuts out those different in terms of race, status, social ability or learning style. Read parent forum for open commentary by those who pulled their "non-conforming" kids out of the school. Great facade hides poor teaching, cliquishness, hypocrisy.
Well said, parent reviewer on Nov. 1, 2013. I wrote the previous post on August 8, 2012. I don't know what the exceptional program is like now but my child did not receive adequate support. My "exceptional child" was once frustrated and cried a lot, is now a happy, confident "honor" student. I firmly believe that this is due to the support from a teaching staff and EC Department skilled in teaching diverse learners. I am no no way saying this is not a good school for some. If you have a "model" student, it's the place for you!
My son received less than average education after kindergarten. Admittedly, he wasn't particularly motivated to please his teachers; preferred play to work. He's bright, funny, inquisitive... just not academically motivated. Administrators & some teachers responded by making it very unpleasant for him. He spent much time sitting in hall and was constantly reprimanded - even for slight offenses. He dreaded going. This had a significant impact on his self-image; he was the 'bad kid'. Once labeled, he didn't stand a chance there. (He's now a good, solid middle-school student; engaged & notably well-behaved.) In retrospect, I think CPSC discourages continued enrollment of poor or average students who are not particularly motivated (an effective technique for improving overall test scores). I agree with others: the School doesn't value diversity - they want one type of student. Not a place for happy-go-lucky, strong-willed little boys. Tends toward exclusivity, a place to send your compliant, high achievers. Yes, it should just publicly embrace their MO and go private.
This school is phenomenal. The EC department is one of the best i've seen and we feel very fortunate to take part in it. You can really tell an amazing school by how many smiles you see on the parents and kids faces at pick-up and drop-off time...this is the place.
CPSC is such an awesome school. My son loves it there so much. The teachers and staff are excellent and guide the children in a peaceful way and help them see their potential. It's a project based/hands on learning environment so the children are learning to learn, not just memorizing stuff. We feel so lucky to there.
In response to this: " In subtle and not so subtle ways the director has created an atmosphere that is hostile to diverse families, especially low-income and EC children, and as a result there has been a huge decrease in diversity (literally less than 3% of free and reduced lunch children" Low income children typically don't attend the school b/c their is no bus transportation. And diversity isn't only skin deep. There are a ton of kids that have same-sex parents, single parents and other a-typical family models. That is diversity too. In regards to the statement about EC children, this school has a great EC program and thats why so many parents of EC children chose to go here.
I have two children at this school. Staff and teachers are superior and care about the success of the children. Project based learning has fostered curiosity and exploration in learning -- my children love going to school. After school program is excellent. Take time to visit the school, talk to the teachers, and observe the classrooms. No school is perfect for every child, but this school is keeper!