This is a safe place to share your honest opinions of a school, whether good or bad.
Project Learn School5
Posted January 26, 2015
- a parent
I've been a parent at Project Learn School for seven years and I'm grateful to have been a part of its evolution. PLS is a learning environment ideally suited the 21st century, encouraging children to think critically while working together in project-based groups. Social Emotional Learning (or SEL) -- which has lately become a major buzzword in educational theory -- has been a part of the PLS core curriculum since its founding in 1970. What some other reviewers have pointed to as negatives (the non-hierarchical, cooperative leadership structure) I view as an added bonus: because of the school's "crowd sourced" leadership, I have been intimately involved not only in my child's education, but have been schooled myself in concepts surrounding the educational process -- and community development -- in ways I could not have imagined. Learning, in my mind, is never finished, and PLS is the perfect place for children to set off on the journey of life-long learning and for parents to continue it.
We did not choose this school for it governance style, Town Meetings or Co-oping. We picked this school because it was the Best Choice for our daughter. It has small class sizes about 10 students a "grade." If I wanted to come into the classroom for the day, I can. It is a community that works together to educate its children. No, it is not perfect, but no community is. Within this community, teachers know all the students personalities and interests. They work as a team to bring out the potential of each student and helps students reach additional goals. Our daughter has opened up, made friends across the grades, is growing to positively interact with a diverse community. Project Learn actively incorporates best practices; but, more importantly they live it.
I am sad to say that after a year at PLS, I would not recommend this school, unless you are enjoy monthly endless meetings, having the same discussions over and over again, and spending four Sundays a year cleaning the bathrooms (yes, in addition to the fun of paying $15,000 a year you also get to do 4 cleaning shifts!). As with many institutions that feel that "everyone is in charge," the reality is that no one is in charge. The communication at this school is appalling. And although they seem to believe that decisions are made by the "PLS community," the truth is that a handful of people are the ones who really make decisions. They also seem surprised that more people aren't interested in the school, but they will not change their 40 hour a year co-op requirement. That's just not realistic for families with parents who work full time. I will say that the teachers are generally great, though. But trust me, it isn't worth the aggravation.
Prepare to be disillusioned. Project Learn School does not have a principal. It has an administrative committee that makes decisions about what issues to bring before the parent community for them to vote on. If this sounds cumbersome, time consuming and stressful, that is because it is! I chose PLS because I hoped for involvement in my children's school. However, this place just spins in circles with no leadership and no ability to make important decisions. Read your contract carefully. It is important to note that if the school makes a mistake on its budget (prepared by a parent) and runs out of money mid-year, they have the right to bill an extra tuition payment to each family to make up for the shortfall. They have done this in many recent years so be prepared to pay more than you think. The school environment is warm and friendly but many families have left in recent years due to concerns about academic quality. I agree with the child centered philosophy of the school, however, children still need academic preparation (i.e. cover the appropriate coursework) in order to be prepared to participate with their peers from other schools in high school.
This is a wonderful school, with dedicated, creative teachers and a strong curriculum. There are so many wonderful "extras" that compliment the educational program. Kids are encouraged to work independently, and learn for the sake of learning. I can't imagine sending my kids to any other school.
The art program at Project Learn is excellent. However, sadly, this is where the excellence ends. Although they advertise that the teachers are certified, the majority are not. Also, they brand themselves as a "humanistic" school. At one point, I believe they may have been, however this does not seem to be the case currently. Because of their Humanistic message however, they attract many children who are different learners. They involve the families, take their money, but fail to provide the proper education for these children. They are doing a great disservice to many children and their families, but without their revenue, the whole school would financially fail. As far as the cooperative aspect of this school, there is nothing cooperative about it. A few families dominate, resulting in the minority choosing the school's direction. This school lacks follow through, needed leadership, or resources to teach the majority of it's students. If you are to visit, please note, the physical appearance of this school greatly reflects the school itself, i.e. disorganized. I feel very sorry for the few decent teachers and families that remain. Buyer beware!
PL is the best out there! My daughter attended PL and it was a wonderful part of her educational journal. We loved this school so much that we still support the work that they do almost ten years later. BRAVO PL!!!
This is a wonderful school. I've watched my shy girl blossom into a confident and happy child who loves school, loves reading, and has made really strong friendships. The school provides the right environment for her to feel secure in her own abilities where she can "just be herself." I highly recommend this school to any parent who is looking for small classroom sizes (12 to 16 kids per class!), individual attention, great art, high standards, and a love of learning and teaching!
We have been part of the Project Learn (PL) community since 1997. I love the co-oping and governance structures - parents can get involved in their child's education in a deep and meaningful way, both by using their individual skills, and as part of the Town Meeting which makes all major decisions for the school. Both of our kids looked forward to going to school every day while at PL. Our oldest went to Central for high school, loved it, and graduated in the top 10, then got a scholarship to the Honors College at U. of Md. The staff and community at PL are wonderful, and the kids learn skills about taking responsibility for their own learning and looking out for themselves using social skills and creative problem solving.