My daughter joined the newly formed Exploris Elementary School and now has completed 1st and 2nd Grade. Her learning has been IMMENSE. They cover all the basics- reading and math performing well above grade level, but they take it much further. They team them about community, making a difference in the world. Design for change. Project Management and Presentation skills. While doing this they are having FUN. Awesome teachers, awesome school, awesome administration. A school with a a community feel. Our family is extremely grateful to be a part of this school.
Many of the teachers are wonderful: particularly the 6th grade team and most of the 7th grade team. The seventh grade has struggled with significant teacher turnover in the past three years, which makes team teaching difficult. The of educational experience of training of some teacher make them less able to reach some students.
There is almost not homework. If the student is one of the lucky few to get in advance math there is a little more, but only in math. A few years ago the school started making the kids do their homework at school (taking up class time). Teachers commented that some of the students were working too much with parents to complete the assignments. What homework there is now is busy work using online tools.
Over the three years of middle school students do develop a better work product, but after 6th grade they learn how to get by and that the teachers will give them 2nd and 3rd chances to finish things: so assignments don't matter. Students have to be self motivated and have the internal strength to swim upstream amidst the disruption of the cramped building space and the distractions of their peers. Most give up and coast.
The school promotes an attitude that everyone is equal: teachers and students. I think this promotes a lack of respect for authority, teachers, parent and other students. This is apparent when students don't follow the rules or act out in destructive ways. They sometimes damage school property, harass their peers or show disrespect to volunteer adults. Our children have learned to be less respectful to their teachers during their time at Exploris.
At Exploris you seem to get what you started with: compassionate students continue to be compassionate; and cruel students continue to be cruel. I have not observed the school being success developing these attributes through its programs. In fact many students are harassed by other students to a point that they simply learn how to get by.
No, the school is significantly based on group projects and it is common for good students to contribute more of the work while others coast. The teachers don't provide enough team management, project instruction or supervision so it's impossible to tell who contributes to the end product. When students are dishonest they learn that nothing will happen so they continue to do as they please.
The school doesn't have the basic resources of a standard public school: no text books are used, just internet based research with little or no teacher guidance. The kids are learning math with online tools like Khan and Think Through Math. There is no attention given to advanced students. Often the resulting work product contains scientifically invalid evidence because there is no effort to build from core principles. Students learn that they don't have to work hard because they will just be given a retest as many times as they like to get the grade they want. The STEM and NC Green school distinction is baseless because they don't implement the programs on which these awards were founded.
I appreciate the extra effort the teachers have made to improve the school experience for their students. The lack of leadership in the administration and the lack of resources have made their jobs more difficult.