This is a great school if your child is average. Average intelligence, average pace of learning, average social skills, etc. Stepehson's staff and administration has no capability to help children who are either above or below average. Services to help kids catch up academically or to provide special accomodations for learning disabilities are almost non-existent, and is available is window-dressing at best and clearly not a priority of the administration. On the other side of the equation, the TAG program is non-existant and I have seen several instances where classic "gifted" behavior is treated with the same approach/response as disruptive behavior. Good luck trying to explain any of this to the staff/administration, however. Despite their 1970s philosophies on special/gifted education they fancy themselves experts because the school is relatively high performing. This is due mostly to socioeconomic mix and scholastic emphasis from the home, however, and NOT staff competence. Lots of kids do well at Stephenson, but I gaurantee the 5 star ratings below are from the parents whose kids are within a standard deviation of the norm.
I attended Stephenson for two years and it was by far the best school I have ever attended. The teachers are amazing and quickly become your friends. The class was like a big family and welcomed me even though I transferred in the middle of the fourth grade school year. The academics were challenging and we learned a lot more because of the way the teachers handled any troublemakers. I would recommend this school to anyone.
My child has attended since kindergarten (in fact I did a huge amount of research when moving to Portland and intentionally moved to a neighborhood within Stephenson's boundaries) and I am actively involved volunteering both in his classrooms and in other capacities needed. Every teacher I've had the pleasure of interacting with helps me understand just why Stephenson is academically superior to other schools, both in and out of the district. In addition, there is huge parental support , not only with PTA and Foundation but simple classroom volunteering as well. The only complaints I've ever heard about the school have come from parents who don't involve themselves in their child/ren's education and expect the teachers to take all the responsibility for the students' successes (or failures). Fortunately with Stephenson those parents are few and far between.
My child has attended this school since K. On her first day her teacher send her home with a sheet of paper, where she -the teacher- wrote 'I like to play with my bruder'. The facilities are decent, the staff are nice but there are 26 students in her class. Which obviously lends itself to a recipe for disaster.
My daughters transferred to Stephenson as first graders last year. They had been attending an elementary school (rated at '10' by greatschools.org) in Redmond, Washington. We were delighted to discover that Stephenson is superior academically to the previous school. Teachers are dedicated and the principal is supportive. But for us the highlight of our great experience has been the warm, engaging, affordable onsite daycare program -- it's simply superb!
Stephenson is a wonderful school with a well-rounded array of programs. The parents and PTA and Foundation are very involved. Best of all, the after school program is truly superb. I wish they still offered Spanish, but budgets have cut that program. They do still offer PE, music and drama. The principal is fantastic and the staff are very professional and caring.
My children love the layout, the small school (not class) size, and the new play structure. Their favorite things are AfterSchool Academy, a wonderful afterschool program on campus, and the SCCA, a top notch daycare program. I love that they have Spanish class, two days of P.E. and computer class in their regular curriculum. Nearly all the teachers are dedicated professionals and kind, communicative people. Talk to other parents and do your research for 4th grade though. It could be a nightmare like it has been for us.
A son and two daughters have attended Stephenson since 1999. All-round excellent instructors with high expectations for their students and tons of parent support from a very giving community. Many excellent programs (art, music, foreign language and a new after-school academy) that you would expect to find in a private school. Students feed to one of the best middle schools in the state (Jackson) and a consistently under-rated high school (Wilson). New housing in the area means Stephenson is one of the best investments a young family can make in their child's education.