The teachers and office personnel are exemplary, but we had unhappy experiences which we will articulate after our child has left this school. Our advice: if you must utilize the public school system, place your child in the Maury School, which is several blocks away, or in the Lyles-Crouch School, which is not too far away. If you can afford to leave the public school system, place your child in one of the private schools on nearby Russell Road.
To give you an example of what they're turning our school systems into, two years ago (prior to a uniform policy being implemented) they sent home a flier asking the children to wear red shirts the next day, to exhibit solidarity with "the workers of the world." The next day was May Day, International Communism Day. I kid you not. If this doesn't make the hair stand up on your neck, nothing will.
Mount Vernon Community School is in many ways the center of the vital and engaged neighborhood of Del Ray in Alexandria, VA. The community is extremely supportive of the school, both financially and in terms of their connection to the school. The teachers are dedicated and there is very low staff turnover. A recent survey of staff had extremely high ratings by teachers about how they are supported, by both the school administration and parents. MVCS has a very active PTA. The dual language program is a plus, exposing children to this innovative way of learning. There is still work to do to bridge the socio-economic and other divides that exist among the student population, but there is lots of good will in doing that and creating a cohesive school community.
I chose Mount Vernon Community School because it has a dual language program. My daughter speaks both English and Spanish and I feel it is important to reinforce her Spanish fluency. I drive 20+ minutes every day and that does not bother me at all--I feel we have to give our children the most tools for them to be successful. I am really happy to have found a school where I want my daughter to grow and learn and that school is MVCS! The communication with the parents is wonderful, the PTA is outstanding and the leadership of the school principal, teachers and staff is remarkable. We would be even better if we did not have some very negative parents who seem to object to just about everything--from policies to uniforms. Nevertheless we are really happy to be part of the community of Mount Vernon Community School.
We did our research and decided not to ditch Alexandria City once our daughter was school age and we're so glad/relieved/appreciative we didn't make a mad dash for the suburbs! She just finished her kindergarten year in the Spanish immersion program and we could not have dreamed up better teachers and not just for her, we found that the teachers really brought out the strengths in all of the students. This school really is a real-deal community school with the parents and administration harmoniously involved. Coming from a co-operative preschool, we understand how important community involvement is for our children. It takes a village!
This school is undergoing a lot of change, but has a very dedicated and enthusiastic staff. The principal is very engaged and has a clear vision of where he wants to go, while involving parents and the community in the decision-making.
I am very favorably impressed with the dedication of the schools principal, teachers and other staff members, and also a critical mass of parents and local elected officials. Everybody pulls together to help, and this is especially important because of the year-round calendar. My only concern is with the lack of space to store materials for some of the staff members and for the PTA. My son is doing well, academically and socially, after learning some essential social skills in the early grades.
The comment posted May 25, 2010 could have been written by me. My daughter is flourishing, despite having some personal issues last year that staff were very helpful with. I look forward to my son starting next year. The dual language and intersession programs are both terrific. I'm not a big believer that test scores tell all -- still, I'd like to see the scores for the subgroups getting better. I know they work at it, but clearly haven't found the answers yet.
Mount Vernon is a terrific school, with excellent staff and program. When my daughter had some anxiety and attention issues in her class, the teachers and counselors were very responsive and it didn't take long to get the situation turned around. As befits a "community school," there is a great feeling of community and a lot of reaching out. I can't say enough good things about the intersession program, allowing kids to explore favorite or new areas in a more relaxed setting. I do feel (and if you talk to the older students, they'll reinforce this) that principal leadership, especially as an instructional leader, is average. But a new principal will be arriving this summer, so I'll be back with an update.