Parkside Community School is just that: a community. A nurturing community of learning, creativity, and respect, and it has been our family's privilege to be a part of it for seven years. We visited several other Montessori schools before choosing Parkside and found that it offered methodology and structure perfectly balanced with variety and freedom. It is neither "militant" Montessori, nor abject chaos. The children are confident, engaged, and very, very happy - almost as happy as the incredibly loving guides and staff. Joe and Claire Bruno have done an amazing job of cultivating an environment where the whole family is included in the learning process, and the lessons are just as applicable outside the gates as they are inside. We have had one or both of our children in each of the classrooms over the years, and we have never ceased to be amazed at the opportunities and challenges they have been given and, without frustration, mastered and overcome. They are growing into caring, intelligent, and responsible people, and we know that Parkside has played a huge role in that. Our final Gates of Life ceremony will be bittersweet, but we will be a part of this community forever.
The first time I visited Parkside, I noticed that the legs on the benches in front of the school were carefully cut out to fit over the irregular curb. That allowed the benches to be back a few inches to allow more room in the high-traffic walkway. Those benches are a metaphor for how the whole school operates. Everything is carefully and thoughtfully executed. Like the irregular curb, they are able to work with each child, meet her where she is, and build on top of that.
My daughter is thriving! Parkside has been an amazing fit for her gentle heart, inquisitive mind and independent spirit. Having respect and integrity at the center of its classroom creates a wonderful sense of community that permeates through the staff and parents. Onwards and upwards to Upper Elementary we go!
My 2 children are in their fourth and second years at Parkside, and my estimation of this amazing school only increases with each passing year. High quality academics plus a strong social/emotional component makes for a wonderful atmosphere and happy, well-adjusted children. In their entire time at Parkside, my children have never once whined about going to school or asked to stay home - a great sign! Tuition is very reasonable, no intense fundraising pressure, although parents are expected to volunteer hours (20 per year per family). I recommend this school to all of my friends. Advise to get on the waiting list very, very early. It is not a "competitive" admissions environment, but it is a small school with high demand and only so many entry level spots. Highly recommend coming to a "Simple Gifts" assembly and/or scheduling a school tour/visit. You'll walk away with a smile on your face!
We found the teachers at this school were neither nurturing nor very friendly. Parkside preaches the importance of independence and individuality, but our experience there was the complete opposite of that. They also stress the importance of letting your child grow and discover at his/her own pace and we also felt they did not support this belief and actually found them to be very rigid and un-flexible. I felt they put their own priorities before that of the child... meaning politics($)got in the way. I also didn't like the idea that kids couldn't really do many activities together except on the playground and that Montessori in general is very literal.... there is not much room for imagination and make believe. They don't recommend you even read fairy tale books to your children. I also don't like that kids aren't to have conversations while eating. I want my kids to be kids. I learned that Montessori was not for us. I don't want my kids to grow up too fast. I know another family, as well, who has also had a bad experience at this school and another family who has just taken their children off the waiting list. Don't let the pretty campus fool you.
Two of our children attended Parkside and they were some of the best school years of their lives. It's a small school with an excellent music program. It's in a great location, right near downtown and adjacent to Zilker Park and the hike and bike trail. Joe and Claire Bruno have been running the school for 20 years and have done a great job. There is no better school in Austin.
Our daughter attended Parkside Community school for the lower elementary years (1st through 3rd), and we cannot imagine her love of learning blossoming as well anywhere else. We've moved on to a very nice public school since, but there's no comparison regarding the quality of education. The public school and its teachers are wonderful in many ways, but with TAKS prep arching over the first three quarters of their year, it's like comparing apples and oranges education-wise. Children at Parkside don't do worksheets, they learn through doing/making/holding/building/creating, and it REALLY sticks that way, at least for our child. Parkside is idyllic in every way. We will always be grateful to Claire and Joe Bruno for the outstanding oasis of learning they have created.
We visited more than 20 schools and communicated with literally hundreds of Austin families before choosing Parkside Community School for our child's elementary years. We have not been disappointed. The school really is a COMMUNITY, but son is happy, engaged, and challenged by the work. We appreciate the emphasis on peaceful conflict resolution, personal responsibility, respect, kindness, and whole child fitness (mind, body, spirit). The school is a great fit for our child, who is learning so much every day and can't wait to go to school each day. Success!
We absolutely love Parkside. With a focus on grace & courtesy, kids learn the importance of being kind & taking care of each other. And, academically, my son is learning to read, write, & mathematics - all with a focus on true learning & not rogue memorization.
Community ratings and reviews do not represent the views of GreatSchools nor does GreatSchools check their accuracy or verify the reviewers' identities. Use your discretion when evaluating these reviews.
The Community Rating is the school’s average rating from its community members (e.g., parents, students, and school staff). The highest possible rating is five stars; the lowest is one star.
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