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St. Catherines Montessori4
Posted April 29, 2014
- a parent
My youngest is graduating to high school this year and she and her sister have been at St. Catherine's for ten years. We have been through the teacher and head of school changes and didn't find these changes to be any different than what most schools experience over the same time period. St. Catherine's is a special place. However, a Montessori education is not for everyone, particularly insecure parents that need constant reaffirmation that their children are keeping up with their peers in normal schools. However, my two girls grew into beautiful, smart and motivated young ladies in this environment and I am truly thankful for the time my family has been with this school. The parental community is fantastic and the teachers are deeply committed. We put our trust in the school in the beginning and never looked back and we know that this was the best place our girls could have gone to school to learn and grow into really great people. I have closely followed the success of graduates from St. Catherine's now and the vast majority of the kids go to the best high schools in Houston and do very well when they arrive.
I could not imagine a better place for my child. Every teacher seems to have the children at the center of their work - not politics,or test scores, or any other device that distracts most other schools from what is important. The principal has always been accessible and ready to hear any concern I have had as a parent. My child is excited to go to school each day, and is learning so much beyond what I hear other children learning in the same grade at other schools. I was shocked to read some of the negative reviews on here because they could not be further from our experience with this great school. I would recommend St.Catherine's to any parent who wishes their child to develop a great love of learning in a very dynamic place.
There has been lots of teacher/guide turnover over the past 2 years, including the departure of two much-loved and highly-regarded primary guides. No explanation to the parents as to why they left. In a school community where "community" and communication is allegedly prided and of primary importance, I find the lack of communication on this matter alarmingly unfortunate.
This was once a great school, but has significantly declined due to a serious lack of leadership by the Head of School. This person came into the position with no administrative experience whatsoever. She lacks professionalism, passion, basic business acumen, and more fundamentally, leadership skills. The faculty and staff know this, but hide it from the parents, and bury their heads to keep their jobs. To the school's credit, the Primary classes (3-6) are fantastic, because the teachers are fantastic. The upper levels lack boundaries, guidance and consequences. The middle school children spend more time gardening than learning actual skills needed for success later in life. The elementary children behave like Lord of the Flies, and bullying is rampant. This will be my child's last year at SCM.
Our child thrived in spite of the lack of leadership and inconsistent management. There are/were some very great teachers at this school and because of that children can do well. That being said, iI would caution that as a parent the leadership has been dishonest, vindictive and outright cruel in dealing with parents that may bring up suggestions that are not popular or criticize any policy or change. At the moment the attitude is that if it works for your child shut up and be happy. There doesn't seem to be any real community feel in terms of feedback and participation. If you are not in the special circle of parents that will not question the leadership you may not enjoy this experience. We are lucky that we were fortunate to have great teachers who are alas now gone. You may have a good experience but please know there is a risk. I believe the toddler program is strong but its hard to recommend the rest without this caveat of meet with the teachers and talk to the parents and also know the principal will make decisions based on her opinions and not much feedback or only feedback from members she deems worthy. However, if flagpoles are important I guess you are in luck.
I am happy to say thst the school now houses a beautiful American flag flying on its pole! The school is a great community that taught my children well. The transition of a new principal will go well due in part to the strong parent participation. We will always be grateful and recommend our friends and others to this wonderful place!
Sending our children to this school has been the greatest gift we have ever given them. The teachers, staff, student body and parents are wonderful. This is a world-class Montessori school dedicated to the love for learning, taking care of the earth, and loving God.
For the first three years, we loved this school. Our child was learning, making friends, and the parent community is wonderful. However, in June 2009, the principal just announced (without notice to the parents), that she decided to switch teachers in primary -- and she still has not explained the reasons why. Then, in the fall of 2009, the principal announced that she was canceling the after-hours Spanish program -- again, without notice to the parents. It is very difficult to recommend St. Catherine;s at this time, because we are unsure what the principal will decide next and how it will affect the learning environment.