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3421 SE Salmon St
Portland, OR 97214

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(503) 916-6226
(503) 916-2676
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Map of Sunnyside Environmental School address.

3 stars
Based on 39 ratings

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September 21, 2014
Sunnyside Environmental School... I've now graduated two years ago from SES. I started in Kindergarten and finished through 8th grade. Would you say that I wasted nine years of my life? Some would say yes some would say no. K-3rd grade were easy because I didn't have to learn or do anything yet. In 4th grade I had to write complete sentences and do multiplication problems, I knew nothing because SES didn't set me up. 5th grade was very concerning for my parents because I hadn't learned nearly enough yet to go to middle school. My parents wanted to transfer me to Mt. Tabor middle school; I begged them and cried not to do it because I was so attached to all my friends at SES. When middle school came it was barley enough education. This is concerning, I only had two periods 3 times a week. Math and Spanish and they were only an hour long. I had Science, PE and Art once a week for 45 minutes each. At the end of 8th grade I had my first final and it was to name 25 native plants to Oregon. I knew I needed to change my life around so I applied to a private High School I wouldn't recommend this school unless you're a hippie and you don't care about your child's life.

- submitted by a community member
September 17, 2014
My family is relocating to Portland and Sunnyside was one of the 10 schools I was excited about visiting. Unfortunately it was the only school out of the 10 that was rude. I walked into the office and politely introduced myself. A woman with a name badge on, Kristy Pearson-Denning, came over to speak to me. She told me that we would be welcome there, but he teachers wouldn't like it if we did. She recommended that we move to the East side of Portland and when I said that this was the neighborhood I was interested in, she told me "not to have an attitude" about the East side of Portland. She advised me that it was very expensive in the Sunnyside neighborhood and that all the people coming to Portland have "pushed the poor people out to the East". Ironic words, since that is where she advised me to go. I asked if I should basically avoid this neighborhood when I look at houses and she backtracked a bit. You couldn't pay me to send my children to this school. The office was so rude and unorganized and it was clear we were not wanted. Good thing the other 9 elementary schools I visited were warm and welcoming. If her plan was to keep a nice, involved family out, she has succeeded.

- submitted by a parent
June 03, 2014
Our child is finishing up her second year at SES. She is excited about school every single day. I firmly believe this is because her teachers make the teaching "come alive" in real ways for children through their Storyline approach and integrated curriculum. the learning is deeper, and more meaningful, than in most traditional schools. My only concern about the school is the open campus set-up. I do worry about safety during recess and would love to see this concern addressed.

- submitted by a parent
April 03, 2014
Sunnyside is an amazing school. I am in 7th grade and have been at the school since kindergarten. It is great!!!!!!!!!

- submitted by a community member
October 30, 2013
There are some wonderful things about this school such as teaching social responsibility and the importance of protecting our environment but they give out an incredible amount of homework (in middle school at least) and offer no tutoring/after school assistance. If your child has any difficulties academically this is not a good school for you.

- submitted by a parent
May 03, 2013
After 3 unsuccessful years at SES we have finally decided to move our child to a private school. In our opinion the first and foremost thing teachers in early grades have to do is to make children enjoy learning. The school failed on this big time. The homework assignments were easy but complex (most of the time spend with cutting and gluing than actually learning useful information), and they were rarely graded or returned; this lack of feedback severely undermines learning. The teachers and the principal behaved in ways that will never earn kids' respect, not a good social model. Big emphasis was placed on things that seemed inconsequential (like not wanting to stomp in mud!?). Starting at the private school mid-year she barely qualified to be in her grade (even with once a week private tutoring for 2 yrs). We don't understand how kids can learn in the chaos reigning at SES. All the "great" things SES offers are things parents do at home. I expect a school to teach study habits, self-governance, how to be part of society at large, general knowledge, and reading, writing, and arithmetic. SES is a fail in those areas. If you want your kids to succeed later, look elsewhere.

- submitted by a parent
February 18, 2013
My child is thriving at Sunnyside Environmental. I would say it's not for every child or parent. There seems to be more emphasis on the whole child, and this is definitely not a "kill and drill" environment. I love the emphasis on personal responsibility and respect within the student body. The culture is unique, creative, and loving. My kid looks forward to going to school, and that says it all.

- submitted by a parent
March 10, 2012
Sunnyside Environmental School is a beautiful community for hands on learning. Our daughter transferred there during 3rd grade, She is now finishing 5th grade with a passion for reading, creative writing and the natural world. She loves her school and teachers. She has a deep sense of community. Morning "Gathering" is a time for singing and joy. She has ownership and pride in her school work. There is a emphasis on community service, right action and global awareness. The structure is a bit informal, but it encourages student autonomy and creativity on many levels. Perhaps it is not the right choice for every family, but it has been an amazing blessing for us. Long live Sunnyside and its devoted teachers & staff!!!!

- submitted by a parent
February 24, 2012
My son graduated from SES 2 years ago. He made great friends, had a good experience, but he didn't learn a thing. With little emphasis on academics or studying for the 3 years he was there, he consequently crashed his freshman year of high school. It took months for him to catch up with his peers from other middle schools. He had no study habits as they were not a requirement at SES. Despite the fact it is an environmental sciences school, my son and his SES friends scored poorly in their freshman biology class that was based on NW ecology and environment. Some of the middle school teachers are good, few are great, and a couple make me wonder why they are teachers in the first place. The math program under Sarah Taylor was sub-par. I hope it has improved with Amy. The mandatory weekly neighborhood field trips were a waste of time. There were no textbooks. The district based curriculum was ignored. And morning meeting was a social club, not a class. In case people wonder if perhaps my son had a poor experience because he is not a strong student, he is now at Cleveland earning A's and B's. His younger brother is at Mt. Tabor with text books, microscopes, and consistent teaching.

- submitted by a parent
February 23, 2012
We adored SES under the watchful care of Sarah Taylor. Current Principal Amy Kleiner & her cohort Rebecca Wagner are systematically changing all that was amazing and inclusive at SES...weekly MS field studies, those famous all school spring musicals, personal fundraising to bring down the (sometimes prohibitive) cost of field trips & overnighters, open communication between parents & administration... Sad. This WAS a fantastic opportunity for our kids, but we (along with MANY others) are transferring our kids next year. Hands on learning, kindness, focus & community are all but extinguished under the new regime.

- submitted by a parent
June 01, 2011
SES is a school where chaos seems to reign & every day there is at least one event happening that belongs in an episode of "Portlandia". From the escaping chickens out front, to the pig they 'housed' early this year (without a permit), everything seems haphazard at best. Despite the principal's "vision", she is very hands-off, & spends much of her time in developing countries working as a lay midwife. The priorities do not seem to be in guiding the school toward excellence. There is an "anything goes/ it's all good" attitude & as a parent, I can see why kids like it. As a parent who wants accountability, it has been very detrimental for my kids' sense of what is acceptable for finished projects & behavior. I would not recommend this school beyond (perhaps) the first grade level, altho' there are several lower grade teachers who are very committed. The overall atmosphere lacks any structure.

- submitted by a parent
March 31, 2011
SES is an amazing school. Our child LOVES going to school every day and the quality of education is outstanding. The direction on academics is progressive. You will not see worksheets or textbooks at the center of any curriculum. These children learn by doing and not just by reading about this world. This school stretches far beyond the basics. The teachers are some of the hardest working people we've ever met. They consistently go above and beyond for their students. There is true caring at this school! We feel blessed to be a part of this school.

- submitted by a parent
March 23, 2011
My child just entered kindergarten this year at Sunnyside. The experience thus far has been outstanding. My child has been safe and has developed a true love for schools and learning. I am relieved that my daughter will be at this school for her k-8. Not only is she excelling in reading, writing and math, she gets to leave the brick walls on a regular basis and see the world outside.

- submitted by a parent
no rating April 15, 2010
Sunnyside offers holistic, hands-on education that focuses on sustainability and community. Students are well prepared to be future leaders and compassionate well rounded people.

- submitted by a parent
February 15, 2010
I attended sunnyside for 6th-8th grade and i loved it. The parents say we didnt learn anything, but i took so much away from SES. There is a community and a sense of belonging that you can't find anywhere else. I had a incredible math and spanish teachers my last year at SES and now am in honors. All my teachers were amazing all 3 years. I can say that without a doubt that sunnyside made me a stronger, confidant and more involved person than before. It has made me concious of the challenges we face and given me the desire to make a diffrence. Most every student took valuable life skills away from SES. Im not saying SES is for everyone, its not. im in High school and i've had no trouble at all

- submitted by a student
February 03, 2010
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- submitted by a parent
February 03, 2010
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- submitted by a parent
February 03, 2010
I was very excited for my daughter to attend SES initially, especially since it took me two years to get her in. I have been very disappointed with my daughters experience at this school. There seems to be a lack of structure in every department. The curriculum is very weak and I feel as if my daughter has regressed academically. I feel the school is disorganized, that reflects in the execution of the courses. I am very sorry to say I actually regret sending my daughter there. I will be honest, there are some good courses there, as well as great field trips (if you can afford them), but all in all again, hate to say it, but I am very disappointed.

- submitted by a parent
February 03, 2010
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- submitted by a parent
no rating November 06, 2009
Sunnyside has a great community of teachers, parents, students, and neighbors. It has a wonderful curriculum with outdoor learning, field projects, gardening, and community service.

- submitted by a parent
no rating October 03, 2009
I went to Sunnyside for seventh and eighth grade and it totally changed my life. I have been more confident and more able to navigate the rest of my school career because of the base they provided for me.

- submitted by a parent
September 09, 2009
My wife and I transferred our daughter into Sunnyside Environmental in 6th grade. She has just begun her 7th grade year. I first want to say that this school is not for every child or every family. It requires a child who is diligent, self-starting, adventuresome, and creative. With that said, our daughter loves the school and is thriving there. The faculty is exceptional, the principal and her administrative staff are caring and expose the children to curriculum, field studies, volunteer projects, and art in a way that cannot be experienced in any other school in Portland. I should also point out that my wife and I have two other children enrolled at Winterhaven School (math and science magnate) and feel it is also an exceptional school and is a very good fit for them. Sunnyside is not for every child but if you have a child with a lot of creativity who loves to read, write, explore their surroundings, and collaborate to find workable solutions to big problems, then you should visit Sunnyside to see if it is a fit for you and your child.

- submitted by a parent
July 15, 2009
A disappointing academic experience and very little support from the principal and teachers when problems came up.

- submitted by a parent
March 16, 2009
SES is the most amazing place. I went to SES for 6th-8th grade. I couldn't have been more happy. Not only did I learn math and spanish, but i learned things that are more important. I learned how to share. I dont mean sharing my toys, but sharing my heart. I learned how to accept anyone despite their opinions, appearence, or background. I learned the importance of family and community. The lessons they taught were ones people dont usually learn until later in life. I was fortunate to learn them early. When it comes to the end of the day, you dont need math to be happy, you need family. I would give anything to go back. Yes, some kids dont work out there. but thats only like 2 in every 300 kids. I loved it more than anything.

- submitted by a student
no rating March 05, 2009
Although Sunnyside Environmental is an expensive school it also gives a great chance to exprience differant curiclums. It has great teacher and classes. It is a comitment kind of a school but in my 3 years it has made me relize how the world really is and could be. SES is an amazing school and if you are thinking of this option I would say please try it. The teachers are very personal and want the best for your individual needs and will spend endless time to make sure you get good grades and they activly participate in the childrens lives. We do have may outside feild studies and over night trips and if you are worried about money you are ussually able to work something out. All around great school!

- submitted by a student
no rating December 31, 2008
I love this school it is so awesome and a lot better than any other school, the teachers are great, great classes, you have a lot of field studies and out door learning, you're learning everything a regular school would teach you and more. Everyone is involved and they have meetings 3 times a week where they sing and tell about events, really a great school

- submitted by a student
December 17, 2008
I LOVE this school the teachers are nice and you feel like you're learning- a John Dewey gem... bravo for making kids come first

- submitted by a parent
August 25, 2008
Sometimes the money issue is important, because although SES is a public school, they go on many extensive field trips about once a week and there is also a special trip to the beach for each grade at the end of the year. Sixth grade and Seventh graders go to the Oregon Coast and Eighth graders fly to LA and stay on the island Catalina at Howland's landing, where they spend eight days learning about the environment and marine life, hiking, sea kayaking and snorkling. There is also an all school camp out at either Mt. St. Helens or Eagle Fern Camp, depending on the theme of the school year (there is a three year rotation refarding the year of the mountain, forest and river). And to make sure your child gets to participate, there are several ways a student can earn 100 dollar scholarships through volunteering during all three years.

- submitted by a student
April 25, 2008
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- submitted by a student
February 05, 2008
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- submitted by a parent
February 05, 2008
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- submitted by a parent
December 13, 2007
We pulled our child out of SES, after giving it a 3 year 'try'. We liked the community and the notion of a enviromental school, but there was little substance to back up the ideal.

- submitted by a parent
December 12, 2007
The teachers and staff are great with the kids! The school is very beneficial for all students .I turned out great! I live on the east coast now and own a Nursing Business, and my goal oriented mind set started at Sunnyside!

- submitted by a student
October 28, 2007
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- submitted by a parent
October 24, 2007
The parents are so involved, the activities provide so much room for student creativity, and the teachers are wonderful! The curriculum is very creative, and never leaves kids bored. The school spirit at this school is spectacular, and everyone is treated respectfully.

- submitted by a student
June 13, 2007
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- submitted by a student
August 23, 2006
Both our son and daughter were students at Sunnyside Elem. before it became SES. I was always pleased with the education they received then. I held out some hope that experience would continue. I was appalled to learn that there actually was not a K-5 curriculum in place as in the past. Lesson plans for any given day are at the whim of the principal. The lack of safety in and around the building was also a huge concern. During the numerous times I volunteered in my childrens classes, it was never clear to me who were actually parent volunteers and who were people wandering in off the street.

- submitted by a parent
no rating June 09, 2006
This school has some attributes. They have very educated and dedicated, caring teachers who put their heart and sole into teaching. They place high expectations for their students.There are many wonderful outings and field trips with one special one at the end of 6th grade. Unfortunately, the school on the whole we found to be very disorganized with teachers taking on too much and not able to clearly state what homework/classwork expectations were for any given class. The principal when my student attended was extremely biased and unprofessional when it came to administering alledged disciplinary actions. Actions were taken that did not follow lawful school protocol.This was surprising given their philosophy of acceptance of diversity.This school allows harrassment/bulllying to continue without proper inervention. Snap judgements are made to protect the guilty. I would not recommend this school to anyone who values good sound judgement and fair leadership.

- submitted by a parent
November 16, 2005
I have three childern that have gone to SES, my first started there 12 years ago and is now gradguating early, my two younger ones have gone for the last couple years. I really enjoy being involved in the school, by doing so i am aware of what is happening in the school. Any parent that takes the time to learn about their childs education would be aware of the happenings in and around the school. This school offers more then the three R's because children need more then that to learn about life. The teachers are great, kind caring and very helpfull in many ways. The principal has a fresh outlook and is extreemly involved on all levels with all children on a daily basis. I'm glad complaning parents have taken their children out so that it has let some of the children on the huge waiting list in.

- submitted by a parent
August 12, 2005
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- submitted by a parent
August 02, 2005
We have pulled both of our k-5 students out of the new SES after what we feel was a wasted academic year for our children. The concept of an environmental school is all well and good, but without proper planning, the overall educational benefits for the students are suspect at best. There were several instances where students and parents were not properly informed about school outings and therefore not properly prepared for things like inclement weather or nourishment. .

- submitted by a parent
March 23, 2005
My sons attended EMS for three years. I would not recommend the school unless the student is in a two parent household and the family has no financial restrictions. EMS was expensive! I still find it difficult to believe the school district would allow such required fees and poorly planned field trips. In public it was said that no one would be turned away, but when I asked for financial help for an expensive 4 day trip I was told there was none if I did not make under the food stamp guidelines. Each year we had to bring hundreds of dollars in equipment and supplies. I donated paper cutters that my kids never saw in a classroom. Duct tape was used by students to make wallets! I thought students would learn about reusing, recycling, environmental issues, and preservation at EMS. I loved that students had to do community serv.

- submitted by a parent
January 22, 2005
Sunnyside Environmental School failed our children in many ways. The classrooms were chaotic and loud. The outings were poorly planned with little or no learning taking place, environmental or otherwise. The grammar school operates without a curriculum. The middle school students use profanity around the younger students and can be seen pushing their way through the halls. Despite amazing amounts of parent support and highly qualified teachers the school suffers under the poor leadership of an inexperienced principal. The principal showed little interest in our concerns and directed our family to other schools in the area.

- submitted by a parent
November 08, 2004
Sunnyside Environmental School is not what we thought it would be. The class sizes are very large, math and reading are secondary to learning about the environment. Lack of focus, identity and leadership have made us turn to other sources for our children's education.

- submitted by a parent
September 09, 2003
Sunnyside School has a committed staff to doing what's best for kids. Many of the teachers are veteran teachers, and are really interested in having the students reach their best potential. Class sizes are currently small. However, to keep class size small we have lost our music prgram I guess you can't have it all.

- submitted by a parent
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Sunnyside Environmental School
3421 SE Salmon St, Portland, OR  97214
(503) 916-6226
Last modified Sunnyside Environmental School is a Public school that serves grades K-8. It has received a GreatSchools rating of 9 out of 10 based on academic quality.
Sunnyside Environmental School Rating: 3 out of 5 based on 45 reviews. Top