We move around a lot and my eldest daughter has been to several excellent schools. I can't say enough good things about St Francis. It is the best school we've found. They strive to teach the child as a whole, and they certainly do that. They integrate math, reading, technology, social studies and science along with the arts and creativity. The children become totally immersed in the subject matter, and as a result they learn more than if they just sat at their desks completing worksheets and being moved from one subject to the next. My 5-year-old recently engaged me in a discussion about Vincent Van Gogh and Ernie Barnes (who I had to look up). She told me all about their lives and their painting styles, and had me look up their paintings online so she could show me her favorite works. She is reading way above her grade level.
My eldest daughter's class studied Hawaii as part of their curriculum. They learned about the history, culture, volcanic activity, how the islands are formed, and more. They painted a huge and rather impressive mural of the big island, built a huge model of a volcano, went on a field trip to Lava Lands so they could see the basalt and learn more about geology, and wrote several creative stories that had Hawaii as a back drop. Then they had to each look up an animal, do independent research, create PowerPoint slides, integrate video, and give a presentation to the whole class using the smart board. Each of the kids did such a great job and learned a lot about how to develop and deliver an effective presentation. She comes home feeling good about her day and feeling confident. She didn't do that at her last school, where she just had to sit at her desk all day and write. She thought she was stupid. How horrible!!
This is not to say that St Francis is an easy school. It is not. It is designed to challenge the kids and to help them succeed. I was recently impressed by the standardized test scores from St Francis, where the school ranked far above others in the area and in Oregon. However, I didn't need test scores to tell me that. I can see it in my children.
The school helps to build on the children's' confidence and pride in their work, as well supporting good manners, self esteem, kindness and respect. It seems that all of the teachers and staff know each child by name. St. Francis is truly a gem.