This is a safe place to share your honest opinions of a school, whether good or bad.
St Thomas Episcopal School5
Posted May 02, 2015
- a parent
The lower school has exceeded my expectations. My children receive classes in the fine arts taught by specialists. Art, Dance, Music, PE, Library, & Spainish are part of my children's school week. The curriculum is solid - memorization of facts is expected in grades 1-3, so the child is ready for higher level analysis of literature and computation of algebraic equations in grades 4 & 5. There is daily Chapel and recess. Security is taken seriously. Very family oriented.
I love, love, love this school! It's a place of substance where the Classical canon of academic literacy in math, English, natural science, social studies, and foreign languages is still honored (sadly, this is becoming increasingly rare in education). The students are remarkably respectful to teachers, and they're kind and supportive to each other. It's a formula that works: acceptances to Stanford, Princeton, Caltech, Rice, and Carnegie Mellon this year; state champions in swimming, cross country, and basketball; state champions for their string orchestra; one of the best yearbooks in the nation; and one of the best Scottish band and dance programs in the world prove that this is a small school that packs a big punch! I know my daughter's friends will be her friends for life, and she couldn't be surrounded by a better community of people.
Having three of my children graduate from STE, I can say that attending STE was a life-changing experience for my students and family. Academically based on curriculum, AP test results, SAT/ACT scores, college acceptances, teacher retention, and the expectation teachers have of students STE is one of the finest school in Houston. Even more importantly, it is a classical Christian school where virtues like character, honesty, discipline, and respect are taught and modeled by the faculty and staff. It s a family oriented community where the bullying and social competition is not tolerated. This is not a school for the lazy or for families that gravitate to the latest marketing trends disguised as education. Children are taught using proven pedagogy (dating back to Socrates), they are challenged in the best possible way, and most of them are involved in numerous activities sports, music, art, theatre, clubs, and volunteerism.
I agree with the previous post that the curriculum is outdated, promotes rote memorization and severely lacks in encouraging creative and critical thinking. I have seen teachers raise their voices and threaten the kids "to take away their party" if they dont be quiet. Again, some parents may feel that is okay. However, this is not a conducive learning environment. Most importantly, is the bullying. With so much awareness nowadays regarding bullying, it is pitiful that it occurs here at this school. The idea that ANY school who would not take this subject seriously, is ludicrous. Many emails were sent with no REAL plan of action, only pacifying words. The poorest marker of any school, is their lack of an avenue for feedback from the parents. When we decided not to re-enroll our child at St Thomas, there was not an email or letter inquiring why. This lack of desire to know parallels St Thomas's outdated curriculum and way of thinking. Again, some families will enjoy St Thomas, but it was not for us. Not all "great" schools per these reviews, are "great" for your children. I wish more updated reviews had been written before we enrolled our child there 3 years ago.
My daughter attended this school for seven years and the principles of the school are astounding. This is the type of school where your punishment for a "too short" skirt is much worse than the punishment for bullying. In fact the bullying problem is practically entirely ignored by the staff, and other parents when confronted about their child's behavior don't even bat an eyelash. The curriculum is outdated, and many concepts are taught robotically and the concepts are ignored completely. The entire school is rather sexist, with practically no middle school sports for girls other than volleyball. The sports program is kind of pathetic- there is no football team, no baseball team, no upper school softball team, and the only sports for lower school are soccer and highland dance. There is no traditional band, but a Scottish Pipe Band, which I will admit is amazing but isn't very helpful in life. By the way girls have only been allowed to be in the band as of two years ago. Haven't they heard of gender equality? Highland dancers and band members get special treatment from the staff and tend to get away with bad grades and misconduct. I truly regret sending my daughter to this school.
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.