My son attended school in Florida, and he never made any gains (has a learning disability). We moved to Vermont, and the gains he has made at SCS is astounding! The teachers, principle, para-educator, and other parents and faculty have grown long-lasting relationships with my son and us as well. I love the community atmosphere they offer, and the fact that they teach kids how to look out for each other as well as living an active and healthy life-style. The teachers are good about responding to any email's I send promptly (as well as much of the staff). They are also good at sending my any curriculum my son needs to know so I can help him at home as well as them helping him at school. I enjoy the mandatory parent/teacher conferences (two a year), as they help me keep up with the progress my son is doing (as well as the emails). I also like how they set up their IEP's for my son. We fight to keep our son in this school and tell others our opinions of this school. I do not think there is any school better!
There are minor issues mainly due to decreased funding. Class sizes are small (Average is ~20 students in elementary classes with one teacher, a para educator, and full time one-on-one aids for those studentheming special needs), the arts have been left intact (art and music each 2x per week with chorus and band electives), and students continue to perform well above the national average on standardized tests. Grade levels are grouped into teams where the administration assigns each student according to accademic and personality strengths and weaknesses based on information gathered from teachers, parents and the students themselves. Parent control within this placement is discouraged, however, any problems are dealt with promptly (inside and outside of the classroom including bullying). Shelburne is a pretty well-to-do community (less than 10% free and reduced lunches) and parents can come accross as entitled and demanding. All in all, this is a very good school. I will update as my fifth grader enters middle school next year. PTO is wound a bit tight, and although that can be intimidating for new members, they are effective and manage to get a lot done.
The changes in administration - new middle school and new elementary level principals - have been extremely detrimental to the school. While the school had challenges prior to these changes, those challenges are now exacerbated and there are many more. Chief among them is the absolute unwillingness of the administration to listen to and address serious concerns - academic, social, etc. While there are some excellent teachers at SCS, there are some extremely poor teachers as well, and no accountability or efforts to remedy those situations. Academic rigor depends on the teacher, not the curriculum, which is problematic. Limited resources and opportunities for the majority of kids. Very sports-centric. Board not responsive, nor is superintendent. FAR too extensive use of "para-educators"; they have a lot of power and no background/education - kids are terrified of them. And while everyone sings the praises of the community of involved parents, the reality is the PTO presidents are "tenured", the same parents do everything and do not welcome outside input.
I would just like to point out that the school has had a change of administration. There are very high reviews of SCS prior to the hiring of the new middle school administrator (principal) in 2010. Draw any conclusion you would like. I just think it is an important fact for all to be aware of and perhaps something will change!
Don't be fooled, if you are well connected or have a relative on the school board you will get a good teacher. If however, you are not, you will find you child crammed into a classroom with 40% higher student to teacher ratio, while the board members' child will have your child s teacher and a low ratio. The administration cares more about their own jobs then the lives of the children they are destroying. If you would like your child to succeed, don't go here. There is not a second language until too late, no science and no history, as it does not fit in with their indoctrination.
Don't be fooled. We talk about how great SCS is but that's relative to Vermont's other mediocre schools. Teachers mean well but are fundamentally mediocre and fail to challenge kids with rigorous curriculum or standards. There's significant diversion of resources to children with special needs or behavioral issues instead of core students. The facilities are poor and there's limited supervision of children during lunch and 'in between' times. Administration seems confused about pedagogy (e.g. teams, multi-age classes). Parents are involved and there's a great community feel to the school. But at what cost? We can't afford another option for our three kids, two of which are already at SCS. But I see how far behind my 4th grader is from kids of his ability in CT/MA/NY. We are fooling ourselves that all the property tax money is going to educate our children. I believe in the progressive value of public education, and I want to support my local school, but I cannot keep denying that my kids are just getting lost at SCS. I want them to be challenged.
First the outside "breeze way" the Pre-K - 3rd graders have to pass through to get to music, lunch, art and PE throughout the day (at times alone). They expect the younger kids to go outside and then back inside to get everywhere. My son hates it! Not to mention the lack of security. When a group of parents brought up the security issue they put up a security camera. Also, they have 8 different after school activities FREE to the 6-8th graders to be involved in (cooking, dance, etc) besides the sports & a free late bus. But nothing for K-5. K-5 needs to pay for some reason, & I have been informed that is not going to change. They don't seem very open to new ideas unfortunately and very stuck in their ways. I am happy about an online program my child is using Lexia Learning and Fast Math. The teacher can see when you log on at home & follow your progress. My son does love the music teacher & the art teacher does a great job exposing them to a variety of types of art. I don't like the inconsistency between teachers in the same grade. Our teacher is very good, but doesn't believe in homework, while others are sending home book reports & other work, & they're in the same grade.
The school, particularly at the middle school level, has really gone downhill in the last two years. Very little accountability, no academic challenge. The most troubling thing though, is the significant increase in the number of very serious bullying incidents. These situations have not been handled effectively and thus continue. The bottom line is, if students don't feel safe and secure very little learning can take place.
The 'community' in the name of the school is more than an aspiration -- it's the way the school culture is organized among faculty, administration, and families. Parental involvement is very high, and students are organized into academic 'teams' that build long-term relationships across grades. Older students can sign up for in-school community service that includes mentoring younger students or working with kids with special needs. Faculty members seek out ongoing e-mail input and feedback from parents and act as sponsors for a wide range of academic and extracurricular activities. It's a very intentional community that surrounds our kids with eyes and ears, and with hands to help, and teachers are strongly focused on academic performance. Our family has had a great experience at SCS.