This is our 2nd year here. Our daughter is thriving. She is with students who are like her, has teachers who truly understand giftedness, and has competent, caring administrators. It is not perfect, but I am pleased with the responsiveness and the commitment to the students and to the mission. The school facilities aren't the greatest, and there have been more staff changes (not faculty) than I'd like, but the majority of core personnel are stable and rooted. I have researched far and wide and I cannot find any school in the Houston area that is truly designed for young gifted learners. The "best" public school GT programs in highly ranked school districts fall way short, as do most of the private schools. For my non-gifted children, Houston has a plethora of quality educational options. But these schools are not appropriate for my gifted child. They might have more resources, prettier buildings and more advanced technology. But they are not set up to address the academic and psychosocial needs of gifted children in the way Rainard is. We are fortunate to have found a place where my child can embrace herself and where she finally belongs. We are proud to be a part of Rainard.
We have one child in the Elementary class and this was his first year at Rainard. He (and consequently, we) could not be happier. He had been in our local public school (one of the best in the Houston area) for two years, was increasingly straining under the pressure of a large class and teachers who emphasized sitting still above all else. His 2nd grade teacher constantly complained that he was day dreaming, even though she was giving him all A grades. He simply was not understood the way teachers at Rainard understand him - and he is not twice-exceptional, ADD, or anything similar. Fast forward to this year - within a week, he was more talkative and expressive than he'd ever been, has gained immensely in confidence, and advanced 3 grade levels in language arts in just one academic year. There are only 10 kids in the class, and therefore individual tailoring of the teaching approach. Above all, he feels like he belongs! We are able to talk to his teachers almost daily after school. The administration and communications can sometimes be less than organized, but all in all it hasn't affected our child's learning. We look forward to more confidence-building years at Rainard!
We have two children at Rainard and we are looking forward to our third year at the school. Although there have been administration changes during our years here, the changes have all been for the better. The core curriculum teachers have not changed, and, in fact, the majority of the core teachers have long histories with the school. The small classes and character of the school encourage daily contact with your children's teachers. Any classroom or educational issues are dealt with promptly and goals can be made and adjusted easily this way. The administration has been very open and interested in suggestions and observations and several positive changes are being made that reflect this. There is no beaucracy, tenure problems, and red tape like at a public school - if a teacher or student or administrator is not working out, they are replaced. Very refreshing. Our children are not 'twice exceptional' and we could easily aford to send them to any private school in Houston. We choose Rainard. Other schools may promise differentiated curriculum for the gifted student but Rainard actually delivers. And my children wake up eager to go and are sorry to have the summer off!
All schools have issues. This one is no different. But it is important to compare it to the alternatives... Public schools may have 22-30 pupils/class and many children in those classes may also have ADHD or ADD or learning disabilites. They offer gifted students a pull- out class once a week at a separate campus as the differentiated learning experience. There is no effort to individually test and continue to follow the students progress and continually challenge them at their level. Other private and public schools are not interested in students graduating early and moving around to ensure that they take challenging classes with students at their level regardless of age. When we compared the alternatives, we knew we could either homeschool our accelerated children or enroll them at Rainard. We are very happy at Rainard. 12 kids/class, all gifted kids all the time, always differentiated learning and an administration not afraid to have a 10 year old in the high school classes.
My child couldn't be happier at Rainard! The school provides a challenging and nurturing environment for highly gifted kids, giving them significant opportunities for research and writing. The assignments emphasize analytic and conceptual skills. Other schools may claim that they have an advanced curriculum, but those schools rely mostly upon rote learning. Rainard actually delivers when it comes to the development of creative and critical thinking, with a project-based learning curriculum. Also, my child is amongst intellectual peers, which helps with both educational and social development. The teachers and current administration really "get" the highly gifted mind too. The kids are encouraged and nurtured, but the school demands respect and appropriate behavior. Consequently, some students had to leave/left because of their behavior (many of whom were legacies of past administrations who seemed more interested in achieving higher enrollment figures). The school is small, meaning that parents have a chance to be true partners with the school in achieving its mission. There are a lot of volunteer opportunities for parents and most families are actively involved.
This is the second year my son has been at Rainard. Before Rainard, he was always the "misfit" kid that the teacher's didn't know what to do with. He wasn't interested in doing his work, participating in group activities, and always gravitated towards the adults in the room. He wasn't a troublemaker and didn't have conflicts with other kids, but was stubborn and non-compliant when it came to participating. At Rainard, it feels like he's with his own people. He looks forward to school, has friends that he can play with and relate to, and is learning those social skills that he was missing out of in a non-gifted environment. He's also integrated very well into the educational environment. The school recognizes that a lot of extremely gifted children also exhibit other personality traits ("twice exceptional") and does their best to work with kids who have some behavior issues. At the same time, the current administration seems to understand that Rainard isn't a therapeutic school and doesn't have the resources to deal with children who are too far out on the edges of the behavior spectrum. Overall, very happy with Rainard.
Interesting that my initial review was removed. I spoke no mistruths. I am not sure what would have warranted removal of my review. Here we go again: Do not put your gifted learner in this school. It is not a safe environment for any child to thrive. Ask the following questions: Why have there now been 4 heads of school in the last 5 years? Why is the President of the Board of Directors qualified to run the school? Why were there 11 Board member less than two years ago and now there are only 3?
Not at all like our shadow days. New admin is worse than the old. They are inexperienced, reactionary & ineffective. Cruelty, intimidation & physical violence were excused as GT characteristics or attributed to special diagnoses. Children of those with influence or special diagnoses are protected from consequences while others suffer intimidation, taunts, threats & even physical abuse. Children, including ours, make mistakes, but we believe in addressing those situations to ensure it doesn t happen again. After a baffling half year struggle with nonresponsive/ineffective admin who could/would not ensure our children were safe and treated fairly, we threw in the towel & now couldn't be happier! So this review is not about being invited back we left to ensure our children are safe with administrators who listen and take appropriate action. There are enough choices that are so much better I advise you to keep looking. There are 5 teachers in lower grades - 2 are new and struggling with classroom dynamics (experience with Rainard was limited to teaching as specialists). High school may be better than our experience in the lower grades, but I wouldn t risk it just to get a bargain .
Easily the best high school bargain in the city. The classes have just 4 to 5 kids in most of them and the teachers are fabulous. The relaxed setting and smaller size allows the students to receive significant individual attention and mentoring, creating individualized and customized education plans. The small setting is conducive to developing relationships. The teachers have taken it upon themselves to stay late one day per week so the students can hang out and socialize together, playing games or whatever. And while the field trips are good for all students at Rainard, this is especially true for the high school. Yesterday they combined kayaking in Galveston with art, stopping to paint while on the water, and at the end of the month they go to the Grand Tetons for a week. This has enabled my child to make significant academic progress and is transforming him into a more dedicated and serious student as a result of the attention, compassion and genuine interest the faculty shows each student as permitted by the small classes. This creates the incredible comparative bargain.
Every year Rainard is rated harshly by parents of students who do not receive invitations for their children to return for another year. It always starts in February when contracts are due in March. There are only so many seats to fill in classes that are kept to the ratio of 1 teacher to every 12 students so administrators have to be careful who they choose to fill those seats. If students have not progressed academically, perhaps they would be better off going elsewhere. Some of the previous posts have misinformation about qualified teachers leaving. Teachers who leave have their choice of other places to work because Rainard looks great on a resume'. However, the best teachers stay! In the lower school, 80% of the teachers have 5+ years of experience at Rainard. School-wide, many teachers have over 10 years experience. As for lack of curriculum, several teachers are educational authors. They are happy to write their own books and teach at any level needed. My child who has attended Rainard for 5 years has only known 2 different administrators until this year so I don't understand how other students met more than he did. At any rate, the current two heads of school are the best!
This school has been wonderful for my gifted child. The reviewer below couldn't be more wrong. The previous hos was terrible and behavior problems were high because he wanted credit for increased enrollment and let in students that he shouldn't have. He actually admitted this. My child said he never came into the classroom all year to observe. I would think this a basic job of a hos. He has a phd in education but did't understand gifted students or know how to guide or mentor teachers. The only thing he was good at was charming the parents. The parent who is helping run the school is President of the board and is filling in for the co-head who is on maternity leave. She has taught before, has a phd in psychology and really understands gifted students. I have found her to be very responsive, knowledgeable and the faculty speak very highly of her. The reviewer below is likely one who wasn't invited back because they disrupted campus every day last year. They have weeded out disruptive students and parents and this year has been great. I'm glad we stayed. Anyone with a gifted student should come and check it out.
Rainard School is for people who understand exactly what thinking outside the box means. My son graduated with honors from UT thanks to scholarships that he would not have been eligible for without the support of his teachers at Rainard. They supported him from age 9 to graduation and recommended him for early enrollment at university. Ask yourself if your child has ever struggled with homework or had to stay up all night to complete assignments that didn't make sense to you or the child! If you answer yes, check out Rainard. Get to know the teachers who make the school a great place to find answers and instill the love of learning without a lot of paperwork or nonsense.. The administration is not the heart of a school. It's the teachers who put the work in and the best ones stay through changes because they care about the success of each child.
The school has small classes and a lot of individual attention. Teachers have experience with students who have ADD/ADHD. For us the big advantage is that you can work on an advanced level in one subject and in a lower level for another subject. My children did not use it, but I have noticed there are learning specialists coming in during the day and after school on an individual basis. Both my kids love the outdoors play area and the large grounds give contact with nature that can help to channel away stress. The classrooms look more like a family living room than a traditional classroom. The overall atmosphere is very welcoming and friendly.
I am a former student at Rainard having been bullied if not traumatized by fellow students and my teachers in second and third grade. Despite all of this I was leery to start at a new school and was quite nervous starting fourth grade in 2008. Almost immediately I was embraced by my teacher the administrative assistant and two twin boys little did I know would become and still are to this day my best friends. Honestly I cant say that that year was the most educationally focused but having dealt with what I had the previous two years that is what I needed. I had also formed a great bond with the then head of school and the year was a good one. My fifth grade experience was not the same due to the then heads of school who had replaced the former. It was around this time I started exhibiting traits of anxiety so in addition to the school falling apart my parents took me out and transferred me the following year. I later returned for eighth grade after somewhat troubling sixth and seventh grade experiences. I was again embraced with open arms but it was again different I experienced extreme anxiety and left half way through the year. I am thankful to Rainard and all it has done for me.
So pleased I took a chance and ignored naysayers.... The former head of school never took a single moment to meet with my family while we were going through the admission process. He denied our entrance of my 141 iq son when he showed hesitation and nerves the day of the school visit. I was shocked, how could an administrator "get" gifted kids and not understand the anxiety and nerves that almost always accompany these children? I said to hell with this school, but when I heard there were new directors I knew I had to check back in, so I met with the board, met the administrators and I am so happy I took a leap of faith. My son is exactly where he needs to be, has a fabulous teacher, and the new directors are smart and take every necessary step to communicate with all parents. Singapore math and rice university stem scopes are being implemented, but really, I just want a place where my gifted kid could belong and I found it. Gifted parents belong, too. It's a happy place, check it out.
In the past 6 years this school has been through 4 heads of school change, three curriculum changes and massive teacher turnover. My child needs continuity to thrive. My student deserved a school with a clear direction to prepare her for college and the future. Rainard could not provide this. Because of this Rainard is overpriced for the substandard education it provides.
This school has a great mission statement, unfortunately they do not know how to follow it. The school is going through a great deal of transition this year, but that is nothing new. It seems as if the Head of School personnel changes about every 2 years, probably one reason why it is so chaotic, unprofessional, and no one knows what the other is doing. In our experience at Rainard for the past couple of years, I have witnessed children being yelled at publicly in the office by teachers, personnel losing track of students, students who were supposed to receive medication at the school being forgotten... so many things that could easily be fixed. The academics taught at the school vary from teacher. There is no consistent curriculum, so the teachers pick and choose what they want to teach. The quality of instruction is dependent on the teacher (as in most schools), but there is no monitoring of the teachers. I was told that the students would be taught at their individual levels, but I did not see that in my child(ren)'s classes. Instead, I saw children working out of math books with no instruction from the teachers, very few lessons ever being taught in any academic area.
This argument-through-reviews is unsetting but interesting. The theme I notice in both the positive and negative reviews is that the students are thriving. That is worth everything, worth saving, worth fighting for. Engage in discourse, listien to one another, evoke positive changes. Understand you won't always agree. Elsewhere you may find a world more interested in breeding academic jocks in the name of gifted education than nurturing the intelligence and creativity in these young minds and souls. Just a thought:)
I think families will continue to consider the school for its uniqueness. I haven't read one negative comment about the things that matter the most in schools - the children's learning and happiness. If I gave up in a school every time I disagreed with the admin, my kids would be constantly moving. Work it out, seems your school is worth fighting for!
While I agree that Rainard can be a great place for both the social and emotional growth of academically gifted children, for us it has come with a negative academic cost.. My child has not been appropriately challenged. A fact borne out by a peer to peer comparison with gifted friends attending other private schools and tumbling scores on standardized testing. Despite this, I was willing to give Rainard a chance, as I felt they were headed in the right direction. The past several months have proven to me otherwise, and i caution anyone considering this school to definitely do their homework. There are many children at Rainard with difficult behavioral and emotional problems and the school is not adequately staffed to handle these students. The extensive time spent on some of these students disadvantages the other better adjusted gifted children. Some of these children have strong ties to the current decision makers. Last year there were 85 students enrolled at Rainard; ask how many of them have re-enrolled. This is information that can be readily obtained from any other private school in Houston. Meet and spend time with your future teacher. Make an informed decision.
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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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