This is a safe place to share your honest opinions of a school, whether good or bad.
St. Stephen's Episcopal School4
Posted November 03, 2014
- a community member
I taught at SSES for years. My experience prior to SSES included twelve years teaching in public school, including Wimberley ISD and Dripping ISD. I also had three children that attended SSES and my youngest daughter started in the 2 year old program and went all the way through 8th grade. She then went to HS at St. Andrews in Austin and graduated with honors from the University of the South in TN. I will never forget our pediatrician asking her about peer pressure, she was in middle school at the time, her response was, "I go to SSES; we don't have peer pressure. We are a family!" The school is celebrating it's 25th year and it is going strong! SSES offers an environment that allows students to try new things with the full support of their community. This is a wonderful way to help children develop a strong self image, balanced with the responsibility for supporting others and caring for their world.
When our family was searching for a private school in the area we really appreciated the St. Stephen s campus and how it translated to opportunity for our kids. It s a vast and beautiful campus, with tons of trees, a nature trail, a garden and just lots of outdoor space for eating lunch and playing. They also have a field for playing sports, and a gym with all the equipment for a well-rounded P.E. curriculum. And honestly, that was the ultimate determinant for our family. We wanted a smaller private school education, but we wanted our kids to have access to a real P.E. program like we had growing up with the fun competitive games, learning about winning and losing, sportsmanship, and beginning fundamentals of the sports that they may choose to play as they get older. Most of the other area private school alternatives just didn t compare with what St. Stephen s offered in terms of facilities and having a dedicated P.E. teacher and curriculum. And they have P.E. every day of the week, which is hard to find in any setting these days. This was something from our childhood we wanted our children to experience, and they get to at St. Stephen s.
I've had a child at the school now for three years and he has grown so much - socially and academically. My second child started this year and she has quickly developed a curiosity and love for learning that is beyond any of my expectations. Having them in a safe and loving environment - especially in these early years - is very important to us, and St. Stephen's has been the right choice for our family.
The school has declined. The new head master has done some very questionable things. The best teachers in the school are now all gone! We finally had to take our son out once classes were blended. It's sad. It once was a great school. ***** I find it strange that the last 6 raving reviews a were all placed on Aug 1 and 2! Seems very unlikely that 6 parents all decided to post a review on those 2 days. Seems more likely that the staff or same person wrote all 6. Very dishonest for a Christian school! ******
This is my daughter's third year at this school. She loves it, and has thrived here academically and socially. Her standardized test scores are great. It is the perfect balance of high educational expectations and a cherished childhood.
I am shocked at some of these reviews. My son came to SSES last year and we saw a total transformation. We live over 30 mins. away and I gratefully and happily drive my son to & from school here at 92 miles a day total! (23 miles one way x 4) That is testament enough right there!) We live in Austin 2 blocks from an exemplary school and very close to several other private schools & we choose SSES. Being in an environment that is kind, loving & enriching has benefited him greatly on every level. In first grade he read at a 3rd grade level, does math on his grade level & while is a super bright & "all boy" child, he had a hard time staying in his seat! In public school they just sent all his work home incomplete and seemed to care less whether he learned anything or not. SSES has accomodated us on every level, challenging him where he needed to be challenged, patiently and lovingly working with him where he needed it and most importantly viewing him as a whole person and finding ways to facilitate an environment for him (and all the children) in the best way for the child. Realizing all children learn differently and excel in different areas, SSES really focuses on the whole child.
In response to the comments about staff changes, they are eminent in any organization. St. Stephen s has been blessed with many excellent educators through the years, and many children have benefit. Teachers are people, too, and sometimes decide they want to move on to pursue other endeavors, like a few of the beloved teachers this past year. Some staff changes are simply driven by the enrollment and naturally the School must be flexible and responsible with its planning. The veteran teacher mentioned in a recent previous comment was a part-time teacher by choice. When enrollment drove the need to reevaluate the staffing for the PreK class, it was determined that it needed a full-time teacher. This teacher did not want to move forward in a full-time capacity (and deservedly so she made this decision, she put in over 30 years and earned a little free time for herself!). However, this meant the school must find a teacher that could fill a full-time role. To clarify also, the teacher chosen is NOT a first year teacher. There are other exciting staff additions for the upcoming school year including, one, most recently name Teacher of the Year from her former elementary school!
It should be noted that a few of the recent complaints contain some inaccuracies. Combining (or blending) classes was a practice put in place before the current Head of School, but regardless is a common practice for many smaller independent schools; keep in mind there are always pros and cons for any learning environment. As for teachers' schedules, those who are core classroom teachers and assistants are naturally full-time, or work part-time on their own accord. Those who teach Specials work on a part-time basis according to their teaching schedule. It's that simple. In response to "declining academics," it's not accurate to associate this opinion as a direct result of the current Head of School. In fact, it's the current Head who is doing the reevaluating and improving of programs as needed to assure St. Stephen's continues to offer a rigorous curriculum and exceptional over-all program. It's also worth noting that, under the current Head of School, fall enrollment has actually increased from year-to-year for the first time in about 10 years.
The school has declined in the past couple years and had to lower tuition to attract more children. The Headmistress is not approachable and rude. Academically, the were behind in math and we had to seek additional tutoring to catch my child up and enter another private school.
My child attended this school for over 3 years. Bitter disappointment. We watched enrollment go from 200+ to under 50. Of the 3 headmasters, the current woman is the absolute worst. Combining grades, great teachers moved to part-time and sharply declining academics lead us to move to another school. Only after we moved, did I realize how truly lacking St. Stephen's was in ALL areas. It is sustained only by the parish church and people who live in such a rural area that they have no other viable options except public school. It's been a very sad decline and the school should have closed it's doors years ago when Headmaster Stark left.