This is a safe place to share your honest opinions of a school, whether good or bad.
Posted November 07, 2014
- a parent
The family school is a joke for students with special needs. My child was not reading or writing legibly at the end of 1st grade. I was assured that it wasn't a big deal for students at the Family School and the teacher assured me that my child would read when she was ready. After failing to succeed in school by my standards, and after multiple failed IEP's we transferred our student to Meadow View school in Bethel. She has been at Meadow View since Christmas break, half way through 3rd grade. In 2014 (6th grade) she now finally at a point where she doesn't need an IEP (only a 504 plan for some lingering issues related to dyslexia). All of the other parents who had kids with special needs at the Family School seemed to have transferred their kids to neighborhood schools as well. It is my belief that this is how the Family School keeps such high ratings. The Family School is probably fine if you A) Don't care about your child's education and only care about their exposure to counter-culture or B) have a child smart enough to succeed anywhere regardless the quality of the instruction provided.
This post is at end of the 2013-2014 year at Family School. My son was in the kindergarten class and we were very very disappointed. I hear the other grades are better but we are not going back. My son now "hates" school. Both the teachers there were unorganized and unkind and rude on numerous occasions to children and parents. Their communication between each other and with the parents was maddening. The lead teacher regularly failed to follow through on things that she told the children. The family school vision of teaching to individual strengths or learning styles was missing from the kindergarten class. The classroom was challenging for sure and yet it was not met with adaptations to the specific situation. Both teachers often got into power struggles with kids over small issues like fidgeting in circle or keeping hands in lap. The teachers need for control was great and the children's excitement for learning got pushed to the side. They did do a good job at guiding emotional intelligence and acceptance of differences. Overall, though, the kindergarten environment was confusing, very inconsistent, and harsh. Principal did not follow up with parents.
This is our first year at Family School. I'm disappointed that it seems so impersonal. It's rather like a middle school for elementary age kids with children having different teachers for different subjects. However, there is no curriculum night as there is in middle school so you never meet the teachers other than the homeroom teacher, and you have no idea what your child is doing with the remainder of their day or with whom. I find it ironic that the name is "Family" School because it feels much less like a family than a traditional school. I think teachers are more invested in students that they have all day simply because they know them so much better, and students in turn are closer to their teacher. Academically it remains to be seen, but I have concerns that multi-grade classrooms mean kids aren't getting a full curriculum for their grade. I thought perhaps the monthly all school meetings would be where one would meet teachers, learn about what's going on in classrooms, and find out about their child's progress, but those are nothing more than PTA meetings dealing mainly with money issues. Not the family I was hoping for.
My son has been attending Family School for three years and has failed to meet more than 50% of the state standards each year. The multi-age classrooms are a gimmick and don't allow the teachers to focus on teaching what the students need to learn. Students don't need to do Exploration four times a week, they need to learn the core subjects. I can't wait to force my ex-spouse into removing my child from Family School's alternative environment.
Family School has a higher ratio of students to teacher at 21 than the average of 17 for the school district. Then the teacher must address multi-age students instead of instructing multiple students of the same age. It's no wonder that my student is having trouble meeting the state standards!
Family School consistently exceeds state standards, and is known for its project based learning. The teachers here are simply awesome! There is a tight sense of community that is rare in this cookie cutter era of 'pass 'em through the line' attitude in education. Our son has flourished and grown here, and almost every one of his classmates have also thrived. The classrooms all have that sort of healthy 'buzz' of teachers and students exchanging ideas and working together. Our son has attended Family School since the first grade, and we feel so lucky to have this school available to us.
We have two kids in Family School. The teachers are fantastic, the other families are great and the kids are the best. It is a great administration and faculty for encouraging biking and walking too. We couldn't be happier.