Our son is thriving as he moves up into his fourth year at Parkside. He has become a voracious reader and seeker of knowledge, and a confident and articulate nine-year-old. His passions are supported and cultivated and he exclaims every day is "awesome" at Parkside. If we plucked him out and placed in him any other school he would be at the top of his class. He loves math and science as much as music and art because it is all nurtured at Parkside. At Parkside he has also learned to be a kind and respectful community member and citizen of the world. The directors' and teachers' love and commitment to the children and their community is evident in every way at Parkside. Our son is inspired and growing in leaps and bounds. It is truly an exceptional school and we are so grateful for our son's early education and life experience at Parkside.
There's not enough space here to tell you about our wonderful experiences at Parkside. We honestly believe that Parkside's approach to the Montessori method has provided "growth to the whole child" with regard to each one of our three children. The 2013/14 school year will be the 12th year at Parkside for our family. Our eldest son began as a 1st year in Lower Elem. and stayed for 6 years. He went on to O. Henry MS and just completed his freshman year at Austin High. He is in the top 10% of his class and played football, basketball and baseball for AHS this year. Our middle son just finished his 9th year at Parkside. He started Primary just before his 3rd birthday and will be at O. Henry MS next year. Our daughter also started in Primary at age 3 and is now entering her 3rd year in Lower Elem. For our family, "the proof has been in the pudding." We have seen how well our eldest son acclimated not only academically but socially into MS and into everything he does. We continue to see these same capabilities in our other 2 children. I would invite you to schedule an observation of the classes and join us for Simple Gifts every Friday morning. You'll be glad you did.
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!