This is a safe place to share your honest opinions of a school, whether good or bad.
St Thomas Episcopal School4
Posted July 31, 2014
- a parent
I am a parent of a 13 year graduate who has been extremely successful in college. She was accepted to top tier universities for her chosen field of study and was offered scholarships to many of these schools. Because of the size of the school, the students have an opportunity to participate in many extracurricular activities such as sports, music, highland dance and drama. My daughter's friends were Christian, Hindu and Muslim and I saw no evidence of anyone being treated differently. They have remained very close in the following 4 years. Our younger child is currently a student at STES and we are please to see that the middle school program has had some recent positive changes. While the curriculum is rigorous, my girls never wanted to miss school and were always cheerful as they left for the day.
Non-Christians are welcome but understand your child is attending (or applying to) a Christian school. So Christian view is what will be taught. Academics are excellent and challenging however homework is very heavy. Some children (and their parents) struggle with the workload even if the student understands all the concepts and lessons. Watching a smart, enthusiastic kid struggle under unnecessary piles of paper and books every night is heartbreaking. This is the only reason for the 4 stars. I wish more schools would realize that tons of homework does not necessarily make a better, smarter student. Some actually retain more by doing a bit less!
I am really surprised by the negative reviews, stating that the school does not accept or integrate non-Christian children. This is simply false. As long as you instill an open-mindedness in your child as to learning about another religion, there is no issue. The teachers are very nurturing and loving here and the academic program is first-class. The sense of community and the great values of treating others with respect are additional pluses. We are zoned to an excellent public school but have decided to send our daughter here for two years now because of the great strides she has made both in maturity and academics. It is hard to find a school that balances education so well with culture (art/music program is fantastic) and community.
Academically challenging - my child feels stressed. Tons of homework, demanding academics - a lot advanced when compared to the good public school we moved from (I think this is a con not a pro as many might - I would rather a child enjoy their childhood - there are loads of time to learn). Christian - I have no problems here (we are not practicing christians and we have not felt excluded. I don't care if they make my child read the bible - they will choose their beliefs as they grow. You can expose them to an alternate thought to make them better rounded. I don't mind everyday Chapel either - some quite contemplation time everyday cant be bad for anyone) Community oriented - small enough that all families know each other. Many parents are alumni - tells me a lot about the quality. Friendly and welcoming - our first year here so this may be a premature review. So far so good.
My daughter is now in her 4th year at St. Thomas - and over those years I have come to know several of the faculty and parents, including the headmaster, Michael Cusack. They truly have my respect, not only as teachers.. but as thinkers, innovators, and leaders in education. The curriculum is challenging and encourages an understanding of the liberal arts and sciences, balanced by the values of forgiveness, love, and understanding deeply rooted in Christian belief systems. Their Scottish Arts program is unbelievable to see and I am constantly amazed at the artistic abilities of the students who have been encouraged over the years by the school. We explored several private schools in Houston and decided on St. Thomas' based on a tour of the school and talking with faculty and others who knew of or had experienced the school. Also, I believe that the tuition is quite reasonable compared with other private schools in Houston that we considered. I would also encourage any parents considering a private school education to meet with Mr. Cusack and the faculty and see it for yourself. I believe that you will like what you see.
Not a good school if you are not Christian. Met the interim director and she was very nice and said that my son would get in with no problem. Went for interview with the headmaster Michael Cusack and I already knew that he did not wanted to give admission. Letter said that there are several factors that went into decision for not giving admission and it really irritated me for wasting my time and their time to go through this process. I don't mind them being Christian school but I would prefer headmaster to be straightforward. He also said that my son would be considered for Bridge to K program. So this is confounding to parents who are not treated the same as the other parents who are Christian.
Confounding that someone would not understand that a school name "St. Thomas' Episcopal" with a mission statement "Forming honorable men and women through a classical education in a Christ-centered world view," would be a religious school supporting Christian students. Secondly, even more confounding that someone would not understand why the Bible would be used as an important curriculum tool in "Sacred Studies" and "Ancient History" courses. Say what you will, but STE does not hide their religious identity, nor should they have to. We are proud of what we believe. As for ostracizing non-Christian students, this is absolutely not true. We have students of various faith backgrounds - Muslim, Hindu, Buddhist, Jewish. We openly embrace these students and they are as much a part of our community as any student of a Christian faith. We are diverse population that strives to learn from one another to become better people.
I have had four children go through STE. The first one entered STE in 7th grade, a transfer from a good Fort Bend ISD public school, and struggled the entire year just to keep up. The second one went through HISD's Vanguard program and when we moved him to STE for 6th grade, he knew less than an STE 5th grader. Having learned our lesson, we moved the last two to STE in from the Sights and Vanguard programs in lower school. They knew so little, we held both of them back a year! My point here is that STE is not easy. It is HARD WORK. But your kid will learn more than you thought possible. All four kids went on to wonderful colleges and are successful adults now. Because of STE's emphasis on manners (they must say "Yes ma'am." and "No sir.") and Christian values, they are comfortable in adult situations and are very self-assured. We calculated once that we got back about $45K all told, in savings on college courses they placed out of because of APs and their scores on the colleges' own placement tests. It was a good school when we started and an even better school now. Oh, and the band is co-ed now...finally!
My neighbor just called to tell me about this site. I, too, was a parent, many years ago, and I agree with the comments made before me. My two girls did not come from public schools but they did have to work very, very hard, one with tutoring at times, and both commented that when they got to their universities, they could not believe the poor quality of their classmates' work. It turns out that all of our hard work was worth it - they ended up making money tutoring and correcting their dorm mates' papers. But let me tell you about STE from the point-of-view of a teacher, since I did not stop teaching there when my last daughter graduated. Before coming to STE, I had taught in two, different public schools. To say it was like being in a war zone would not be strong enough. I read some of the negative comments of the other reviews. You want to see REAL problems with teachers and administrators? Try Aldine ISD or some HISD high schools. When I came to my first class, and all of the students stood up and said, "Good morning Mrs. XXX", I thought I had died and gone to Heaven. I hadn't died. But I was in Heaven. I'm still there. And I will do anything for my students.