My daughter just started Kindergarten at ADS this year. Although we are only a few weeks in, I will say that I am happy with our decision to send her here. To be completely honest there were a few things that made our decision a bit tough. Most of these things were superficial. Such as the older buildings and the lack landscaping (really does make a difference).I realized though, that what ADS offers in terms of learning experience was well above what our local elementary schools offer. My daughters class size is 17 kids. They hike, have eco-wellness and social and emotional programs incorporated into the curriculum. That's fantastic compared to our neighborhood elementary school. In just a few short weeks, her teachers (yes two) have sent (unprompted) email updates a couple times a week. The principal has sent several as well. We haven't experienced any issues with the "traffic". I'm not even sure what traffic people are referring to. Every school has issues with the car lines. We are really excited for what this school has to offer.
Major concerns about the new principal and 30% staff turnover after he completed his first year. He is trying to do too much too quickly and it is impossible to get a straight answer from him. At the rate he's running off the established teachers, the school will have all newbies within a couple of years which is a shame because one of the things that is unique about ADS is the teachers who are working hard to build a real community. Communication from the administration is non-existent and always last minute. Two examples of recent issues: 1. It's just a few days until school starts and they haven't released class lists yet (probably because they don't want to reveal how much they over-enrolled since one of the school's selling points is the low student:teacher ratio). 2. They have a new bus service and just let everyone know that it won't be running until 2-3 weeks into the school year. The new driver just got his CDL and has never driven children before and he will be driving 70 kids around in rush hour traffic on I35 - scary thought.
The new principal is going to turn ADS into a less than ordinary school. My kids will enter 1st and 4th grade next year and I have very mixed feeling right now. I m extremely worried about ADS's future. I love the community and I LOVE the teachers! However, the new principal is pretty much on probation as far as I m concerned. While he appears to be an effective leader and a go getter , he is pushing through some extremely aggressive initiatives in a short period of time. In my opinion, these initiatives are being pushed out (at light speed) at the expense of other, very important issues that still need to be fixed within the current infrastructure. I feel overall like he s a numbers guy with not a lot of emotional equity in our school (kind of like a career politician). Get the test scores up, attract more families and students, bigger, more not seeing the forest for the trees. I am not a crunchy hipster and I don t care about the sugar rules. What I do care about is this great school, and our community (and our teachers!!) being bulldozed so this guy can say oh, hey, look at all the great stuff *I* did, without considering the collateral damage. Stay gold ADS!!
This school has been such a wonderful experience for my 2 children. No, it's not perfect (is anything?) but I'm left without words with regard to the learning experience my kids receive here. It truly makes learning so much fun for them, not a day goes by where they don't look forward to going to school. The staff is incredibly qualified and so creative working to meet the needs and learning styles of each child. Yes traffic is crazy, communication could be better, but I can look past that for my children. ADS is in our hearts, we all (parents included) love this place.
ADS is the right place for my children and many others. The kids are happy, confident individuals starting in Kindergarten. The learning that takes place happens all over campus rather than just in a classroom. The weekly hikes and Eco-Wellness classes are something that my kids would not be getting at any other school. The teachers are, for the most part, outstanding and committed to this style of education. The parents are extremely involved as they need to be at this type of school. (I wish I could do more for the school myself!) The leadership of the school has gone through some transitions over the past few years however overall the spirit of the school has stayed the same. It is not perfect so I can't give it a 5 but I'd give it a 4.5 if I could!
We have been at ADS for 5 years now and love it. The focus is on real education rather than passing state tests. There is a true outdoor learning component, and kids are truly nurtured in their emotional and social growth.
My daughter is a first grader at ADS and has attended since kindergarten. Even though it is a bit of a drive and much less convenient than our well rated neighborhood school, it is worth it to send her there. The curriculum is centered on project based learning with a constructivist approach, which means kids there are learning by doing, finding connections between subjects and putting what they learn into practice. Instead of daily worksheets drilling facts, she is writing stories, researching and doing poster presentations, and explaining her math thinking rather than just writing down the right answer. She is also happy and excited to go to school because her class is a tight knit and supportive community. The teachers really care about the kids and create an environment where the kids learn to appreciate and help each other. ADS fosters whole child development which is something I really like about it. They just got approval to amend their charter to add middle school and I plan to keep her there through 8th grade.
We joined ADS with a first and a third grader after moving to Austin from out of state. Both kids were welcomed into the community right away. We were impressed with energetic outgoing teachers who teach real life lessons. On the weekly Friday hikes, the children get sunshine, exercise and nature. Ecowellness is a unique part of the curriculum. There is good communication via Rallyhood and email. Our new principal has made excellent changes already and is visible and approachable at school. My oldest, now a fourth grader, is telling me to write "We love ADS!" right now.
Caring teachers, outdoor education, 1:16 ratios, gardens, creative and invigorated teachers, involved families. I appreciate the careful growing and nurturing if my children who attend this school. Positive discipline and loving staff. A very involved parent body. We spent 3 years at another school and are a new family who love the difference. My children have blossomed and are challenged. No grades doesn't mean too easy. I love the portfolio evaluations - they really help us understand what my children are learning.
We have 2 kids at ADS, and we're very happy there. The teachers are highly educated (moreso than our exceptionally-rated neighborhood school). There's no bullying, and the kids are generally sweet and kind. I love that my kids learn so much without realizing they're learning. They also get a lot more individual attention, and more challenge. The homework is less busywork and more thought-provoking. We also love the ecowellness program and Friday hikes. The kids don't feel like they've been cooped up all day, but they're not just "playing," either. They really do a lot of learning outside when weather permits. The teachers really care about the kids, which makes me feel like my children are safe. Most of all, my kids are happy and enjoy going to school.