My biggest concern in preparation for sending my children off to kindergarten was if they would be in the best hands possible-- would the school staff, administration and teachers be enthusiastic about teaching? The reviews on great schools and other online resources had me tentative about this decision but as I learned more about John Adams through visits, conversations with the teacher and principals, as well as parents of current students, the decision was easier than I had prepared myself for. Our son is enrolled in the dual-language program and spends over half his day in Spanish and consistently sings and speaks Spanish at the dinner table (speaks more than us and he is 5!). The new principal, Jill, moved across the country to take the reins at JA and she is determined to make the school the perfect learning environment for the kids who attend from all over the world. We couldn't be happier.
Our son has blossomed at John Adams. We began in the dual language program last year and have found a school full of energized parents, teachers and administrators. Established members of the school mentioned that turnover problems had soured their experience with the school in the past, but this hasn't seemed to be an issue for the last several years. We're very happy with John Adams, and plan to stay involved to make the school even better in the future.
John Adams is a school on the rise, as is the surrounding neighborhood. We moved to Dowden Terrace in 2010 with a 1 and a half year old and another baby on the way and knew we would soon have to be considering schools-- public, private, parochial- so many choices. My wife and I, both products of public schools, certainly leaned toward John Adams, despite some of the ratings and reviews found here and elsewhere on the internet. Ultimately we did our research and now have our son enrolled in the dual-language program and he/we know we made the right decision, as did many of our neighbors and friends from the neighborhood. The fact of the matter is that the quality of a public school is only as strong as the will of the parents to send their children to that particular school. Every parent that chooses private over public for the reason "if only that school had better scores" is pushing that public further down the charts. More and more parents, as it seems to me, are beginning to make the choice of public education for their elementary students in the West End of Alexandria and we will all be better off for it.
This school, located in the Dowden Terrace neighborhood of Alexandria, is the best kept secret in the City of Alexandria. I couldn't be more impressed by the school-- from the small class sizes--19 in kindergarten with two teachers--to the highly regarded new Principal Jill Lee to the standing-room-only PTA meetings and principal coffee hours. This school goes above and beyond to embrace its highly diverse student body and their families--and the result is a highly involved and highly demanding school community. The dual language program has a rigorous curriculum that is only getting stronger, informed by its own coordinator and a PhD from GW who has enriched the program. My child spends 70 percent of the day in Spanish and I am amazed by just how quickly she is learning the curriculum.
This school is getting worse every year. The school used to have Honors Assembly program which encourage the students. That is no more there. We want the school to participate in the National Spelling Bee program and they do not have a clue. We need a big change.
We've had a hit or miss experience at John Adams. One child was in a classroom with some involved parents and great teachers who gave her challenging work even before she was formally classified as gifted later in the year. My other child had teachers who meant well but weren't able to focus on teaching to students of high ability, no involved parents, and students he didn't click with. The school focuses on serving a challenging population--the majority of students are low-income with parents with limited educational backgrounds, including many recent immigrants. The better students don't get much attention, and have a tendency to get overlooked in classes geared towards getting struggling students to meet SOL proficiency standards. The Spanish immersion program--which gets little institutional support--seems to be the escape valve for the brightest students and most involved parents. There is a small group of involved parents who make heroic efforts to support the school via PTA, scouts, etc., but my sense is that many families at the school are either struggling just to put food on the table or so new to the country as to be unfamiliar with these sorts of activities.
My daughter is in first grade, and this is her second year at John Adams. I have nothing but good things to say about the school and everyone I've dealt with, from the classroom teachers we've had to the nurse, social worker, and special area teachers. Despite it being a large school I always see the school personnel calling students by their names which shows that they are committed to the kids and the school. Parents complain about the Spanish Immersion program consistently, but I took the time to learn about it ahead of time to make the right decision for my child, which turned out to be a regular ed classroom. I am an educator, have been for 14 years, and as it is in EVERY school, you as a parent have to advocate for your child. It does start at home! If you send your child to school ill prepared, you will struggle right along with your child. Parents need to stop blaming the school and everyone else and take a look at what "product" they are sending out in the world.
My son has Asperger's Syndrome and is getting exactly what he needs in his K-1 classroom at John Adams. We have seen tremendous improvement in his speech, writing, and social skills. We love his teachers.
My advise to parents with a learning disabled child is to run! this is not the school, nor the school district for you. When the ignorant state 'it starts at home...', It is the uneducated statement of someone who does not have a child with a learning disability. We know what we have to go through. The no child left behind act is a joke in the alexandria city school system.
Despite John Adams did not meet the no child left behind requirements does not mean its not a good school. Education begins at home. It's up to the parents to make sure their child is getting the education that they need. I feel the teachers can only do so much and then the parents need to step up to the plate and take responsibility in making sure their child is getting the education they need. I have a son you attends John Adams Dual Language Program and I am very pleased with program and the teachers he has had for the two years he has been in the program.