Middle school has pockets of brilliance, but is overall a very uneven program with teachers that don't seem to know a lot about adolescent development. There are better options in Austin.
GSA is a good school. Sending our second there for kinder, the first going into 4th having attended previous years. I will speak to detractors only. Sometimes a kid and a school simply don't mesh. It's not necessarily either party's "fault". I'm very wary of parents who say the school isn't up to academic snuff, as if they've done an exhaustive study. Sure, good feelings can be deceptive, but so can bad feelings. When half a grade leaves at once, what does Occam's Razor tell you? Suddenly in 6th the school turned bad, or, there's a bit of Hop on Pop going on? It's all too easy to point at the institution and declare it at fault. A lot harder to to look at the kids and say maybe they've got it wrong. My point: seems an anomaly. Guess we will see. While my daughters attend GSA, and I do think it's a fine school, I am neither a partisan nor apologist. It's not for everyone, nor should it be. Nor can it be. Hurt feeling speak loud, so, just be careful, prospective parent: give consideration to all viewpoints. Don't be unduly influenced by a vocal minority.
GSA is an amazing combination of challenging academics, employing socratic and experiential learning methods that embrace and enhance critical thinking, and enrichment from the arts and music, physical education, and spanish programs. The result is a community of intelligent young ladies that are self responsible and poised to be leaders in their communities. The administration is dedicated to the students and supportive of the staff/guides/teachers. The staff/teachers are qualified, dedicated, and superb. We could not be happier with GSA! Come visit and see for yourself!
Is there a K-8 school with award-winning teachers and students, the highest accreditation rankings, engaged, confident students and graduates, who go on to become independent thinkers and national merit scholars? Yes. It s The Girls School of Austin. Whenever we are asked why we chose GSA, the first thing we say is the teachers. They are enthusiastic experts in their fields who know how to teach and pass along their enthusiasm. Check out the school in person, talk to parents and graduates. They will be your best source of information on any school. Best of luck with your decision. Parent of a 5th grader.
Aside from moving to Austin itself, picking the GSA as the place for our daughter to start Kindergarten was among the best decisions of our lives. She is now in 5th grade and the myriad ways this school has nurtured, challenged, and expanded her are impossible to enumerate. Moreover, we have formed a truly fantstic community with other families in her class and within the school at large. The school's only "fault" may be being too inclusive and tolerant of malcontent or ignorant parents who emerge now and then. But for those who want a creative environment that is nonetheless rigorous, teachers who are as warm as they are significantly overqualified, and a head as serious as an old Northweastern prep school but as tolerant and energetic as Austin itself--well, this is the place to call home.
My daughters will be entering third and fifth grades this year (2010). Both of them have been at the school since kindergarten. In this time, the school has really grown and improved. The teachers have been uniformly outstanding. I oculd not be more pleased with the quality. The small classes (limited to 16 girls) are to everyone's advantage, and I can't say enough for the all-girls environment. There is much more cooperation than competitiveness, and the girls are encouraged to be supportive to students of all grades. Because the campus is small, all of the staff know all of the girls. The girls engage in "specials" which include PE, art, music (strings or piano), Spanish, and drama two or three times a week, which is a much richer cirruculum than is offered by AISD.
The teachers are the best teachers that I have ever seen! They are wonderful and very hard working. The best I have seen so far.
Single sex education is beneficial for both girls and boys. My daughter loves her school, her teachers, and her friends. She is not afraid to try new things or speak in public. She has no preconceived ideas of her academic abilities and takes on academic challenges with an openness to learn. I credit the GSA teachers for this and the all-girls environment. She comes home talking about what she did in science not about the latest fashions or gadgets. Very refreshing. It's been a wonderful experience in every way.
Love it so far. Much more academically challenging than the 'recognized' AISD school she was attending. At least 2 wonderful 'specials' a day like art, music, Spanish, drama, emotional intelligence (!) etc., but they pack a full day's worth of academics into the remainder of the day. The only downside is that the grounds are a bit small; would be nice to have a bigger playground or a cafeteria. Best of all: No TAKS test, which means creative teaching!! The families are much less snobby than what we saw in Eanes.
The Girls School of Austin is the most unique and diverse school I've ever been involved with. Girls are taught to see each other as peers and friends rather than adversaries. They are also pushed to explore their minds in the realms of art and music as much as science and math.
We were disappointed in GSA, especially in the area of academics. They really don't seem to have an aligned curriculum and they focus a lot on 'fuzzy' ways of teaching, ignoring some of the basic fundamentals. As with many private schools, they do not require the teachers to have a degree in education; they may have a degree in another subject. While this can be a plus in many cases--the teacher is actually a math or science expert--we encountered difficulty with this situation in the lower school. Lastly, we expected a more feminist attitude from a girls' school, being more accepting, even welcoming of all types of girls. We did not find that there. On the plus side, you won't find a better art program, and the kids really do love the music and being in a small school.
I agree with the disappointed parents. Our daughter was there for one year, and that was enough to convince us that we shouldn't be paying private school tuition for a public school education (in some ways it didn't even reach that standard).
I give this school an excellent rating. Not because it has all the glitz and glam that well established, academically strong schools have, but because of its eagerness to achieve those characteristics. The headmistress has a solid vision of what the school should become and is intent on seeing it through. Improvements are always in the works. Bottom line- it takes money to do these things which GSA makes a constant effort to attain through donations and grants. The headmistress works closely with the board, the teachers, the students, and the parents. In just the past four months GSA has added several new after school activities and has just added an Ethics course for the 7th grade in the spring. Plans are always in the works and implemented as soon as possible. I could not ask for a better school for my 5th grader, academically or socially.
It s easy to confuse the wonderful school you think you ve found with the one that is actually there. Most of the other parents who have posted here probably have very young children, or were escaping from another environment. Accordingly, they have little perspective on what goes into a good school. We found this school lacks excellent teachers in many grade levels and enrichment areas but especially at the middle school level. We were hopeful about the new leadership change, but our dealings with administration were tinged with hostility and arrogance. It was a great place to leave behind. Choose carefully. Having good feelings about a school is great, but it won t sustain your daughter when you find she is not prepared for the rigors of high school (as is the case with our daughter).
This is an excellent school. My daughter could not wait for summer to be over so she could get back in the classroom. The school brings out the voices and talents of every individual and it is a joy to watch. The girls have an appreciation for learning and take personal responsibility to achieve.
I'm so grateful our family found GSA four years ago. My daughter wants to go to school each and every day and she has transformed from an indifferent and reluctant student into a highly engaged, curious and enthusiastic learner. The all girl environment is strengthening and affirming, ultimately allowing every girl, even those who are naturally shy and quiet, to assume leadership and have a voice. The GSA community is the best in Austin--kind, fun, respectful, creative and enthusiastic and the dynamic new head of school continues to earn the respect and admiration of those with whom she works.
Our daughter just completed 8th grade, her fourth year at the Girls' School. She has grown academically and in self-confidence in ways that I can't imagine at any other school. The teachers are very capable, truly care about the girls and their education, and have the training and freedom to explore new dimensions. It was good to see the GSA flourish these last couple of years after a rocky startup period. Solid leadership, super staff and a creative and challenging learning environment will keep things hopping.
I asked for Chorus and Spanish, and we already had the staff to teach those subjects. We got dodgeball and Health instead. This is the fifth head of school in six years, and the board cannot actually afford her salary, so the talk is about monye, money, money. Pushy parens. One of them even decided she had 'unpaid' work at the school and moved into the office.
What a gem of a school! This was my daughter s first year, and the school has exceeded our expectations. We didn t seek out a girls only education, but now are firm believers. The girls (ages K-8) readily assert their compassion, intelligence and individuality. From the moment we walked through the gate, the creative energy was palpable -- Botticelli-inspired artwork, violin and piano playing, and buzzing classrooms. My daughter s 4th grade teacher was highly qualified and enthusiastic. On the down side, this school has experienced its share of growing pains. However, GSA just hired a new exceptionally-qualified headmaster who will provide the school with capable leadership while preserving its core values. If you want your daughter to develop a lifelong love of learning, an appreciation for the arts, a global awareness, confidence as well as academic strength, GSA is the place!
Excellent school with about 80 girls from grades k-8. Concetrates in community service, confidence building, and math/science and the arts. It is wonderful to see girls in the 6th grade embracing and encouraging 1st graders. This is the only private, non-denominational girls school in austin, texas. My daughter attended k and 1st and loves school! she will returning next year in 2nd grade.
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