Our child was recently accepted to attend kindergarten at Grace. We made the decision to apply given the fact that while the parents in our area speak highly of McArthur Elementary, its testing scores have gradually continued to slip over the last several years and it remains the largest elementary school in the area (over 700 students with five kindergarten classrooms) and is about to be rebuilt in 2017/2018 with children either being bussed to other nearby elementary schools, or placed in temporary trailers. This we felt would be entirely too disruptive and ill-planned for a child just beginning elementary education.
While we can't speak for the Kindergarten experience at Grace yet, we were attracted to the school by its small enrollment, personable staff and unique neighborhood community feel once we visited. For comparison, we visited multiple private schools nearby to include St Rita's as well as St. Stephen's, St. Agnes, both much larger, each with their own positives and negatives. But Grace just seemed like the perfect balance of everything we were looking for- traditional academic base, a feeling of community, happy kids, faculty and staff, relatively affordable, and in the neighborhood.
The admissions process was fairly painless as far as that goes. Students applying to kindergarten or later are required to take the WPPSI test and parents are required to complete an application which includes a short narrative on your child. There is a school tour by the wonderful Director of Admissions where you have the opportunity to see just about every inch of the school, as well as meet and interact with faculty and staff. Following the tour, there is a required play date of sorts at the school so teachers can evaluate how your child interacts with others, to include the faculty. The application process remains competitive, surprisingly so for such a small school that is not known to many, however we appreciate the fact that Grace is focused on maintaining the right academic environment for the children attending. As well, some private schools these days seem like glorified colleges, with facilities that rival many campuses. While Grace's is a dash dated, it's entirely appropriate for an elementary school. That said, our one knock would be its library, which is about the size of your kitchen. Hope this helps anyone considering whether to apply.
My daughter is 3 and is a preschooler at Grace. She is the youngest in the class/school right now. Her three teachers have been wonderful with her. We get weekly updates from them about what the class has been doing, and notes about things they notice her doing well, like sharing with other children, being caring, paying attention, being a good friend, etc. There's an overwhelming amount of positive energy when we enter Grace. Every morning when we come in, we are greeted by the school Principal, who shakes each child's hand and says "Good Morning!" I think it is a wonderful way to start the day, and as a result everyone knows the Principal and she knows every child. I think this school is a very special place. It is small enough for every child to be noticed and be able to develop his or her talents, and its caring staff makes every day at school an amazing experience for every child. Parents I've met at Grace are very involved both in their child's life as well as in the overall school life. My husband and I feel that Grace has been a very accepting community. There is a diverse student body here, and everyone can contribute to their child's and the school's success.
Our twin daughters attended Grace for two years, prior to entering kindergarten at a nearby public school. We think Grace is top notch in every respect - the quality of the teaching, the class size, the strong and challenging focus on academics and character building - all in a nurturing, loving environment, with lots of one-on-one focus for each child. The school principal is superb (and widely known and respected throughout the Alexandria school community), and she directs a talented and experienced staff. We would have loved to keep our children at Grace, but finances dictated otherwise. Having said that, Grace is relatively inexpensive compared to other private schools in the area, and a bargain at any price.
My daughter has attended GES since nursery. She has been very happy and has received a wonderful education. The school is very small and provides a very nurturing environment. The one and only criticism i have is Father Mon teaching fifth grade religion. He treats the children as if they were college students, his testing is beyond their abilities at this age. This creates a lot of unnecessary stress for the children. He is NOT qualified to teach and shoud be replaced immediately ! I
Would not recommend this school, lack of teacher oversight makes for poor teachers, I would recommend many of the public schools in the area where I had children and had a much better experience, ttuition free!!!
This is a fabulous school. It is a very nurturing environment while upholding the strict standards of a 'traditional' education. Character is important here and the children are taught early on about respect, honesty, courage, and integrity along with invaluable lessons in Religion appropriate to the age. The teachers are of the highest-caliber--every one of them. To resond to a previous post, they are firm, some more than others, but they are ALL loving and truly want the best for our children. Children at the elementary age need strict boundaries in order to feel safe and they get them at Grace with a balance of kindness, fun, and lots of love! I have to say there are VERY LITTLE to NO behavior and descipline problems at this school because a firm structure is adhered to in the classrooms. The families are diverse and very involved. We love it!
I was a public school student growing up, then a public school teacher, and I was totally surprised by how quickly I found myself commiting to a private school! However, GES is a top-notch, nuturing, loving environment. I especially love how my children receive an A+ education AND lessons in compassion, honesty, respect, and religion. I have been very involved as a parent, and was pleased to learn the variety of ways that working and non-working parents can contribute to the school. My input is valued by my children's teachers (past, present, AND future), by the Head of School, and even by the Board of Trustees. Keeping my children at Grace was the best decision I ever made, and I feel blessed to have gotten involved with such a wonderful community of families, faculty, and staff.
We love everything about this school! My daughter has been at Grace for six years. The atmosphere is nurturing while also maintaining the highest academic standards. Each child receives the kind of individual attention you can only get in a small school like this. Teachers are exceptionally accessible and dedicated, and my child has loved each one. Grace graduates are accepted into the area's most elite private schools, and the parent community is welcoming and friendly. Going to Grace was the best decision we ever made for our child.
Love this school. Very friendly families and the teachers are fantastic. My child is thriving at Grace. Small classes, parents are encouraged to get involved. Teachers do a great job teaching, loving and displining my child.