Cons: struggling to keep up with the times. administration more concerned with appearances than substance. aging staff lack energy. conform or be punished and/or medicated. Pros: small community where each child is known well. parents support a variety of fun healthy activities. parents make the best of the situation and build on what's positive. most staff are just going through the motions to keep the the paychecks rolling in until mandatory retirement. kids have developed their own social darwinism to cope with inflexible and frequently hostile adults.
For bright, curious students, this is a terrible school. These students languish academically because the focus is on getting every student to do well on standardized tests. For struggling students, this is terrific. For the average student, it is good. For the student who was already "at grade level"--certain teachers mock or belittle them, saying things like, you think you are so smart (special, etc.)" for knowing the answers before they are taught. A number of families have pulled their children in the last couple of years for these reasons. There is no defensible reason for teachers to treat children this way. When every child in the class knows which handful of kids that the teacher dislikes, it is disgusting. A COUPLE of the teachers are marvelous and parents are heavily involved. There are lots of great activities--for conformist children.
If the student is smarter than the teachers (as I was) then be prepared for the worst school experience of their lives. There ARE a few teachers that genuinely care about every child and do everything to help them but the operative word is "few" and all the other teachers really don't care about the kids. Several teachers were extremely cruel (and extremely idiotic, which is a bad combination, I think you'll agree). Once I was told that Edison invented electricity in science class, and was shot down when I tried to correct her. Another time I was punished for finishing the assignment quickly and accurately. HOWEVER, if you are of average intelligence, this is really a great school for you. If, coupled with your average intelligence, you are also willing to badmouth and betray your fellow students to get ahead, then you will thrive and have an excellent education and I highly recommend this school.
Barnard does a FANTASTIC job with the "typical" child. Most children are taught well and most of the teachers are caring. There are great field trips and learning opportunities. The science and social studies curriculum is superb! On the other hand, the school does not respond well to students with learning differences. The financial resources (above the state average) are spent on the latest technology, but if your student needs an education that does not "fit the box" or the worksheets (attention deficit disorder, or brighter than average), then you will struggle. The principal is overworked and does not follow up well on "plans." The phenomenal parents' group does a lot of terrific work for the school.