My children attended ESK for many years. The K-2 years were very sweet for my children. However, as they got older we realized they were not meeting the academic standards compared to children in other private and public schools. There is not a reading comprehension program in place, the children are not taught basic grammar concepts and the school lacks a writing program. Parents do not realize how far behind their children are until they leave the school. At first glance, the school appears warm, inviting and sweet. The school lacks discipline, leaving the classroom chaotic and little time to focus on academics. The school has continued to decrease the student enrollment, leaving them to add Pre-K programs to make up the deficit. The Lower School Director does not like for parents to come to her with any concerns regarding academics or the teachers. There are several teachers who have had complaints against them. Many of these complaints are serious and involve teachers mistreatment of students. I recommend anyone who is considering ESK to ask to see the ERB scores and ask specific questions about their academics.
I had children in the lower school at ESK for multiple years. This school has a solid enrichment program (daily chapel, gym 3x a wk, Spanish 3x a wk, Chinese 1x a wk, etc.).This enrichment program comes at an academic cost. The students spent more time in a day outside of the homeroom classroom where core learning should occur. There is no formal science program.The school fails to focus on strong academics as it purports. Each grade does hands-on projects which involve abstract concepts for children who tend to be concrete thinkers. The projects were cool and visually appealing for promotion, but they lacked the tie with a larger curriculum. There is a perception that the academics are rigorous because there is a lot of homework.However, since there is little time in the classroom for reading/math, kids are not taught what they need to learn & are not given time to repeat & practice the new skills. Often, my kids would be struggling with homework & tell me that it was not covered in class. My kids were easily frustrated by the lack of instruction & the multiple transitions that occurred during the day.I did not see academic progress, and I had questions regarding the individualized learning plans which were heavily promoted during the admissions process. I discovered that these individualized plans don’t exist at ESK. When I had discussions with teachers/administration regarding my concerns, I was treated disrespectfully & they reacted in very defensive manners on multiple occasions. In addition, I was reminded that I would be required to pay the full year tuition even if I chose to withdraw my children from the school early. It is quite a financial commitment when you are dissatisfied with the education that you are paying for & the school does nothing to improve the situation for your children.The school has other issues as well (enrollment is down, financial difficulties, inexperienced and unqualified teachers, liberal ideology in religion class, & poor discipline program focusing on negative consequences). I cannot recommend ESK to anyone who wants a strong academic environment. ESK’s curriculum & focus is not based on children's educational needs. Unfortunately, the children’s educational needs are being neglected at a cost of around $14,000 per child. There are better public and private school options in Knoxville that focus on what is best for kids!
Our children have had a wonderful experience at ESK. The class sizes are small so teaching is more tailored to the individual child's need. One of the best student teacher ratios in Knoxville! Academics are strong and children excelling are challenged to grow and learn more. Hands on learning is excellent....dissecting cow's eyeball in 2nd grade, projects, Mandarin, Spanish, fabulous art education and fabulous PE! So far, each teacher we've had has had a sincere interest in our child's academic and personal development. Chapel and the inclusive values of the school are a strong draw as well as the focus on giving back to the community and helping others. Families are friendly and real. Children are encouraged to think out of the box and learn various ways to solve problems. ESK is a great school!
This is our third year at ESK. Overall, it has been unimpressive academically and I do a lot of extra schooling at home. They are constantly asking for money and they give special treatment to those who donate largely. The elementary school prinicipal is inexperienced, she was previously a 2nd grade teacher at ESK. She has little social skills and appears nice until you have a complaint. She will then tell you that you are the only person that has ever complained about that issue. She must not realize that parents actually talk to each other. There is not much parent involvement, most PTA meetings have about 10 parents in attendance on a good day and it is so difficult to get any parents to volunteer. About 50% of the teachers are excellent. The other 50% do not belong at a $12,000/year school. 4th and 5th grade are challenging in a good way, but the kids are so academically unprepared for those years-it makes it very difficult for them. The middle school principal is excellent, so that is a positive. We will be going to St John Neuman next year. I would look for another school if you want strong academics and good leadership, it's not at ESK.
Academics are great and seem to really engage the kids. Also, it is a beautiful campus. There are lots of opportunities for sports in middle school--tennis, basketball, football, soccer, cross county, golf, track, trap shooting (and I am sure I have left something out). However, the school aggressively is trying to raise money and the parents who donate certain amounts of money get to name classrooms (and even streets) in honor of their children. I really cannot imagine how it is healthy for a young child to have a street named afar him or her. Also, if you are a family who is really struggling to pay tuition, be aware of the fact that the rich kids seem to rule and be ready to deal with those issues/questions at home. Also, be aware of the fact that many of the kids continue into private high schools. And so, you might have a concern about whether your child is prepared for a public high school. Also, the guidance department does not really seem set up for gifted children. If your kids' test scores are low, you will be required to pay for tutoring. If your kid is gifted, there is not support for that at all.
We love ESK. It's a wonderful school. Our daughter has been a student there for 3 years, and we couldn't be happier with where she is academically. She is routinely challenged, but also nurtured. The only real complaint I have is that there is no athletic opportunities for team sports in the lower school, we have had to seek those elsewhere in the community. Other than that, ESK is still a great school and I would whole heartedly recommend it.