Not worth the money. Lots of students leaving to get better educated and more challenged in the public schools. Loads of fluff and no substance. Not on par with any premier independent school. Poorly run. Numbers dropping.
Swain is a remarkable community, filled with caring teachers, dedicated administrators, and a wide range of family types and styles. We have found it to be a wonderful home for our (now) 2nd grader, and from the beginning of her 1st grade year (when she began attending the school), she felt warm and welcome. Academics are challenging, certainly compared to public schools, but they are concerned with educating the whole child. They offer financial aid which makes attending Swain an accessible goal for solidly middle-income families (like us). Cannot recommend highly enough.
The school is NOT academically challenging, with the exception of the science program and one kindergarten teacher. Reading material is grade level, not based on a child's instructional reading level. Reading (4th on) and math are taught as whole class instruction. Starting in third grade, they simply cut the class in half and call that differentiated reading instruction. Little differentiation in subject matters and there is simply no excuse due to the very small class size. Although math is taught a grade level ahead, the math instruction and curriculum are exceptionally poor. Bullying is rampant, especially among the girls. They simply don't know how to handle the bullying problem or don't want to anger parents whom they desperately need financially. Be wary of the promises made by the headmaster! Please don't be fooled by the picturesque building, small class size and rehearsed headmaster's speech. If your child needs academic challenge, you will be much better off at a public school with a gifted/enrichment program where they understand how to correctly differentiate and accelerate instruction.
One of my children graduated from Swain, the other is currently in the middle school. During their time at Swain, I have been impressed with the intellectually challenging curriculum and the well trained and dedicated teachers. My children have been trained to think and create, communicate and analyze, and though the school spends no time on preparing the students for testing, my children have thrived when faced with standardized testing. In short, they are prepared to face what ever life throws at them. My only regret is we didn't start them at Swain earlier!
Swain is a great school. It's a very "homey" and relaxed environment. My daughter LOVES to go to school here. I can't say enough about the administration - so friendly - yes, they greet you with a hug and with listening ears. They know your children by name. Teachers are very knowledgable and enthusiastic. Love the enriched curriculum, many field trips, afterschool activities, small class sizes (teachers really can connect with each child), the buddy system (my daughter knows everybody!!), wellness/peer education - (and bullying is NOT tolerated at this school), technology, community involvement, music instruction, lots and lots of family events ("there's always something happening at Swain"), parent involvement.... the list goes on. Great school to be involved with. Yes some wealthy folks are there, but not all are. The good thing is that among the kids, you just can't tell who is who - they all get along so well. As I walk through the halls I am amazed at how well the kids treat each other with compliments and such like. Great focus on kids. Yes, it is expensive, but money well spent. Highly recommended.
Great School, Great People, Great Program. I have two children at the school -- for four years, thus far. We are very happy with the quality of the teachers and the program. My kids come home thrilled to be at such a great place. The program pushes them, undoubtedly, but the teachers are also there for them, are in touch with us, and welcome our appropriate involvement. Life beyond the classroom is great -- organic garden, excellent enriching field trips, and after school programs. The Leadership is experienced and knowledgeable, but some parents enjoy criticizing in ways that are not very constructive. The school is safe, nurturing, demanding in all the right ways, and very student-centric. I recommend Swain without reservation.
Our two children love Swain. We havew found Swain to be safe, caring, supportive and nurturing. Both of my children at Swain have different learning styles and we have found that their teachers have worked hard to accomodatge their needs seemlessly and without making them feel anything but encouraged to face new challenges. The administration at Swain is also involved in the life of the school in ways that make families and students feel that we are all working together to give our kids the best possible experience.
Don't be fooled by initial appearances! Teachers themselves report that if your child has any type of learning difference, you should keep looking because Swain is incompetent to handle it, and you will be pushed out. This is not a safe environment for kids. Wealthy parents who are big financial contributors dictate to the administration about how to discipline. Many parents are worse than the children with their behavior. The politics overwhelms the school "policies." Bullying is RAMPANT at all grade levels, and nothing is done. It is a business first, before education. Question the teacher's credentials. It is a shame because many good and caring children get pushed out because of arrogant, narrow minded bullies, who harass other kids daily, while the administration ignores it because of the financial assets they stand to gain by keeping these same bullies in the school. Parents dictate the rules and discipline and the administration jumps to their commands, in order to keep the donations coming in. It looks great on the initial presentation, but once you are on the inside, you realize who is really in charge. Enrollment is down, why? Not a healthy environment for any child.