Can't say enough about this school. It has brought out the best in my children, and brought a tear to my eye on more than one occasion- it's just the heartfelt interactions with the happy teachers and staff who care about our kids there. It's the quality of a private education, with small class sizes and excellent educators. This is a racially diverse population, and the school actively pursues outreach currently.
When my son was ready to start kindergarten, I visited almost every school open to transfers. I saw many good schools, but they all felt sort of… homogenous. There was something missing. Then I heard about Pease. I walked through the doors, and I knew immediately--this was it. Pease boasted the same academic ranking as the other schools, but it felt different. It felt like a community. It was, and continues to be, the most racially and economically diverse environment I have found in Austin. We’re the best kind of neighborhood school, because we represent almost every Austin neighborhood.
As the years have gone by, the school has only gotten better. Matthew Nelson is a fantastic principal who looks for reasons to say yes. Yes, we will build an outdoor science classroom. Yes, let’s bring a Holocaust survivor to speak to the 6th graders. Yes, let’s install an apiary and develop a curriculum around it. Yes, let’s host an after-school musical theater program, Spanish class, Math Pentathlon, and Science Olympiad.
Other reasons to love Pease: There is virtually no teacher turnover; it's small; class sizes are tiny; there is a 6th grade; the after-school program is not just a babysitting service but run by teachers who engage the kids, help with homework, and offer extracurricular classes like photography, soccer, coding, and chess, as well as plenty of free play. The 5th graders learn and perform scenes from Shakespeare. The 1st and 2nd graders go to the library to read to Tucker the dog. The kindergartners can’t wait for Fridays, when they get a visit from their 6th grade buddies, who mentor and nurture them.
Above all, what I appreciate most about Pease are its teachers, and the diversity of its families. Both of my kids have friends from all over the city. They are not Black, but they attend African-American Heritage Night. They are not Hispanic, but they attend Hispanic Heritage Night. And when the 4th graders complete their ancestry projects, the halls are filled with posters covered with copies of antique photos of families from all over the world, and from all walks of life.
Pease is a place where everyone’s heritage is celebrated, where individuality is valued, and where creativity, kindness, respect, and acceptance are not just encouraged, but expected. Best of all, it's also a place where kids love to learn.
To be honest, I have a first grader and I work full time. I writhe on the floor in pain at ANY homework for a kid this small. :)
But it isn't terrible and he usually has it done in aftercare by the time I pick him up.
I had never heard of socioemotional learning before Pease. But it makes sense. Sometimes we assume that kids will learn qualities that make them better citizens by osmosis, forgetting that you need to articulate a fuller picture for them. It take Miss Ko (guidance counselor) to lay it all out, but there are simple ways that it helps kids work through all the natural emotions that arise in humans. Thus you can get past emotions to qualities of honesty, integrity and fairness. Also, the small size of the school helps. I think it is easier to be unfair/dishonest when dealing with "others." There are only two classes per grade. The ENTIRE school sits in the gym together once a week. There aren't any "others" at Pease. Students feel like they are all Pease, and I think that helps the students stay accountable to that community.
As an African American parent, I'm looking for all the things any other parent is looking for, AND a school where my son won’t be the only black child in the entire building. In Austin, that's a tall order.
The school I chose was Pease. K-6, 260 kids total. Two classes per grade, about 19 kids per class.
Every morning, the principal and guidance counselor are in front of the school welcoming kids. The entire school fits in the gym for Friday assembly and parents line the walls. Sixth graders have a Kindergarten buddy that they tutor each week.
Pease feels like a small, neighborhood school, but is made up of families from across the city. This is an all-transfer, free, public school.
The academics, of course, were on point.
At the time I was looking, Pease was 25% black. AND had an African American male teacher. AND black kids do well academically here.
So I made an appointment with then-principal Donna Martinez where I proceeded to bring up every thorny topic concerning African Americans and education. She didn't blink. Had answers for every question.
Our new principal, Matthew Nelson, is also culturally fluent. One lengthy discussion of the dearth of black superheroes let me know that this is a person who is at least aware, and comfortable talking about the little things. So if the big things come up, we can get right to them. None of that "I don't see color" business.
My son named his cat after him. As in, the cat's name is Principal Nelson. A little black superhero talk goes a long way with a six year-old.
There’s a Hispanic Heritage night and an African American Heritage night where the entire school comes together to learn, play and hang out. Everyone puts on the event, everyone comes out and everyone has a great time. Not too rigid and not thrown together. Just events that are part of the fabric of the school.
A teacher said, “When it comes to our demographic pie, we just don’t want any one piece to get too small.” Like Austin, Pease is experiencing a shrinking black population. However, the PTA is making outreach a priority because we all believe that a diverse Pease is a stronger Pease. That is heartening.
So if that’s the kind of school you want for your kids (of any race), I think you’re looking for Pease.
Come to an open house this fall and apply for transfer in January.
Pease is an Austin treasure. Its small size, diversity, and history make it unique. As a small school, Pease has a real sense of community. There are only two classes per grade level, so all the children know one another. Pease is one of the schools participating in the school district's social and emotional learning program, which helps promote problem-solving, responsible decision-making and social awareness. Academically, there is a focus on the students as individuals; teachers frequently customize reading assignments, spelling lists and math problems to challenge each student. Whether they are organizing writing camps, devising science experiments, introducing a classical guitar program, or creating a Shakespeare program for fifth graders, teachers and staff are constantly looking for new ways to go beyond the basics and inspire students.
Pease is an amazing school. We transferred our child here after a not-so-great experience at another school, and the difference was clear right away. Our child has never been bored at Pease. The teachers really tailor instruction to each child's needs. I have never in 3 years heard of any, and I mean ANY bullying at Pease, which I think is amazing. It's an incredibly nurturing and supportive environment. Lots of things make Pease special: the small class sizes, the great teachers, the high level of parent involvement. But I think the principal deserves most of the credit. Her door is always open. She really understands parents and kids. She's caring, flexible, creative, and incredibly hardworking, and she knows everything that goes on in the school and knows each child by name. Honestly, I can't say enough good things about this school.
I LOVE the fact that this is the oldest operating elementary school in the state of Texas. Theres a lot of history here and a lot of wonderful alumni who volunteer their time each school year to make Pease the wonderful environment it is for our kids. That fact, coupled with the small class sizes (2 classes of just 20 students each per grade) makes Pease a fantastic place for kids to receive the individual attention they crave at this age to soar well beyond their expectations. My niece and nephew attended Pease (and are now a college junior and senior respectively) and they rave about the school even now, all these years later. I could not think of a better place for my kids to attend elementary school:)!
Pease is a great school. It has 2 classes per grade level so your students are able to know everyone in their grade which is a huge plus when it compares to the other schools and has a very diverse population as well. It is the oldest continuously running public school in Texas which alone is a unique feature but then the traditions we have truly make it a remarkable school. We celebrate May Fete every year and the 6th graders who leave get to wrap the May Pole and the kids look forward to this tradition in which they will get to do this one day. Hootenanny is also another great event that we have that celebrates our schools birthday. Fine Arts night is also a great time to come out and enjoy a laid back family night with your kids. The teachers are AMAZING. We are now in second grade and we have had a great experience. The teachers give you the tools you need to help your child grow academically and also encourage the students to do their best. When you have concerns the teachers are very responsive along with the principal to make sure that your child's needs are met. I feel that my daughter has truly excelled under the teachers she has had and will continue to do so.
As a parent to a student who has attended Pease now for several years, I can confidently praise the school's administration, staff, and teachers. My daughter is always challenged in the classroom and is therefore always learning. When I need the staff or principal for assistance, they are always quick to respond with a thoughtful suggestion or solution. And then, THEN there's the convenience of location! The ability to walk to my daughter's school and eat lunch with her is priceless. I'm thankful for this downtown jewel in public education.