We have a Kindergartner at Trillium and over the last 9 months we have been very happy with the academic rigor, education philosophy and general community feel at this school. The process of selecting a Kindergarten in the Portland Metro area was arduous. After evaluating private school and public school options (including charter, alternative and focus programs), we applied to Trillium as an option. After getting accepted, we still had lingering concerns -- was a K-12 school appropriate for our 5-yr old? Is the location and facility a safe environment? Will the Democratic/Constructivist education philosophy meet our standards for academic rigor? Is the environment too liberal for us? Our experience to date has been extremely positive. Our Kindergartner is excelling academically and socially. I believe the small class size, blended age groups (K-1 blend) and exceptional teachers are major contributing factors. We are also very pleased to see that the education philosophy goes beyond academics and teaches kids how to be good citizens. They are learning about conflict resolution, caring and respect. I believe that Trillium is arming my child with skills they need to be a good person.
Trillium is a Portland Public School based around Democratic and Constructivist education and has been such a vibrant engaging place for my two boys. They are learning in an environment that values their voice, empowers them resolve conflict through mediation, and challenges them to keep asking questions.
My children have been attending this school since 2004. One of my students has struggled there (but is now in a new grade level and will have a different teacher which I think was an aspect in his struggles), and the other has thrived. I think both of them are learning what they need to know to operate in the real world. They are both thoughtful, smart and well spoken. There is a great sense of community. Regarding the changes in the administration, there were a couple of very turbulent years, and some tough decisions had to be made, but now they are on solid staffing ground and I have confidence that the new director has the experience and leadership skills necessary to help the school reach its full potential fulfill and exceed its mission.
I have been a parent of a student at Trillium for 7 years, and I highly recommend it for anyone who wants their children to learn problem solving, conflict resolution, and community involvement. It may not be the best choice for every child, but it certainly is for mine.
Unfortunately, I cannot recommend this school to anyone. We spent a total of 5 years with this school and it was a disaster. I didn't realize how much of a disaster until I moved my eldest child out of the school and into a traditional public school. My daughter was horribly mistreated AND emotionally harmed by her last teacher at Trillium. My husband and I pulled her out of the school after an especially traumatic event. Unfortunately, the staff involved in the decision to suspend my child after the fact, never bothered to meet with us nor did they make any effort to resolve the situation. Had this occurred in a traditional school, this teachers would have been fired. My child entered her new school two full academic years behind, she could barely read or compute simple math problems and she had no knowledge of punctuation. She was referred for special ed testing and had a very severe learning disability, something all the teachers at Trillium failed to notice. My son had a great experience at Trillium. His teacher was amazing. Unfortunately, she was forced out by the new administration. Before you decide to send your child to Trillium, attend a Board Meeting.
Trillium was once a great place where the kids were the main focus. The new administration systematically forced out the founders of the school. Most staff members who started with the school have been let go or have quit. The new administration has not one bit of experience in running a school and would rather decorate her office then buy books for kids. Most programs that made trillium unique are being phased out. Such as garden and traveling. The new administration would rather the school be filled with upper middle class white children.
This school has seriously taken a turn for the worst. They used to care about the students. Now they care about making the administration look good. I wish that it was the same place that I loved once, but it just is not. It is a twisted place that needs to get it's head back on straight.
As a parent of both current and former Trillium students I must express an extreme disappointment with the school as a whole. They profess to subscribe to a democratic process, but I have seen that fail on many occasions. There isn't continuity between classrooms and boundaries are almost nonexistent. While much energy is spent on community activities, there isn't enough focus on academics. Services for special needs students are hard to get. I spent 4 years trying to get extra help for one of my kids to no avail. In less than 3 weeks of dis-enrolling from Trillium and enrolling at our neighborhood school we were getting the remedial help that Trillium refused to provide. There is a complete lack of accountability from students to teachers to administrators. Family involvement is strong. Unfortunately the needs of the students and school can take second place to the beliefs of the parents. There is a core of dedicated staff and parents that are keeping the school afloat. The kindergarten program is phenomenal and I would recommend it to anyone, but beyond that I would advise people to make alternate educational plans for their children.
I have had three daughters attend Trillium. It is a wonderful school. Unusual is the decision making process where the children learn that their opinions truly count and they learn to resolve conflict with words. At times this takes a long time and a lot of care, but what a skill to learn. Two of my daughters had Rob Van Nood, who teaches 3,4,5. He is an amazingly creative teacher. This year, he decided to start the year in an empty room with no furniture. They have developed a learning style that is fluid and hands on, with the kids moving around the room in all sorts of interesting explorations. The school is not for everyone, but it is truly a kind a loving place.