Active duty Army, our children have attended parochial, public/gifted, & DoDDS, (12 diff schools), from preschool-HS. Recently PCSing from Germany, we attribute our boys positive academic experience to what a special place Nativity school is. Countering concerns in other reviews: It is common in private schools to move kids into 7&8 public middle schools for easier transition into public HS because of $. Also, be aware of helicopter parents in all NOVA! Cossetting parents try to control the Nativity principal & teachers (All which are certified w/ MA) & think their children can do no wrong. When they don't get their way, spread gossip, trying to undermine the school. Thankfully, Ms. Kelly does not give into threats, takes concerns to heart, & settles issues in a fair manner, both for students and her staff. As a result, many of these cosseting parents have left- Thank God! Lastly, I want to emphasis the Middle School Team is SUPERB! My 8th grader will be graduating w/ HS Alg & Geo, & Spanish I. Also, science program exceeds the gifted program in the Fairfax public schools & why we chose Nativity over the GE in public schools. Most impt, my sons love Nativity- can be themselves!
The preschool at Nativity is outstanding. Early elementary is strong. Upper elementary and Middle School need work. Families begin to leave in 5th grade. What we need at Nativity is good communication since at present there is no forum for discussion between parents and administration. Bi-annual 'Town Hall' meetings would be helpful. Meetings in October and a second meeting in February to discuss areas of strength and growth would help. Questions/concerns could be prepared & reviewed in advance, an agenda set & solutions discussed in open & transparent communication. Meetings should be grouped (K-2, 3-5 and 6-8) in order to best address topics pertinent to the grade levels. The handbook should include a section for parent expectations of the school (professional conferences, responsive classrooms etc.). There are outstanding STEM opportunities (robotics, math and chess clubs). It should be clear that these are after school and wknd activities entirely initiated & supported by dedicated parents. Without parents the programs would not exist. Caution should be taken describing others as spiteful. As parents, we are concerned about our children, naturally.
I don't believe some of the negative reviews are based out of spite, but concern. The low student numbers in the upper grades are very disturbing. The mixed level of teacher certification (state certification, not VCEA) is a cause for concern. We will be leaving Nativity after this year because we feel it is not an academically challenging school, while it is a mostly friendly environment. Others may disagree, Though it was selected as a "Blue RIbbon" school in 2008, it has not received that distinction in subsequent cycles. That selection was 6 years ago. A few of the current teachers are excellent and dedicated, while many seem simply under-qualified in both credentials and in practice. Note: The pre-school program is probably the best in NoVA. So, I would not tell prospective parents not to enroll their children there, but would encourage them to ask hard questions about why many students are leaving well before 8th grade. Ask about specific teachers your children will have. Ask about specific testing and grading methods and ask a lot of questions about gifted and/or special needs programs, if those are a concern. Everyone can make up their own mind.
This is our first year at Nativity and I am pleased we chose this school. My son has adjusted well and loves coming to school. Nativity cultivates confidence, fosters leadership and responsibility rooted in the Catholic values of faith, hope, and love. It s a safe and supportive learning environment enforcing mutual respect among students, faculty, and the administration. The teachers I ve interacted have all been responsive and kind. My son s teacher is simply phenomenal! She has been very responsive to our inquiries and requests. She s simply a great teacher, I can t say enough about her. The school offers rigorous academics and appreciates all learners. The school administration addresses concerns quickly. It s a wonderful caring and nurturing community that values the uniqueness of each student within a truly supportive environment. I can t wait for my younger son to join Kindergarten in the fall.
I respect free discourse. However, I am wondering if some of these negative reviews are simply out of spite. My family has been very involved in this school for many years, and we have seen an increase in the number of children enrolling in the school, the teachers work very well together and have shared learning communities. My children have all gone through this school and outperformed their peers from other schools in high school. The principle is very responsive to parent concerns. This is a fully accredited and a National Blue Ribbon School of academic excellence with advanced middle school math programs including Pre-Algebra, Algebra I, and Geometry. It has rich and rigorous STREAM learning, a robotics program, chess club, X-STEM math tutoring, and sets high expectations for student participation. The small class sizes in middle school are a big strength, together with a flexible program that allows for the students to maximize their educational experience and developmental growth.
The proof is in the pudding! I believe most parents want their children to have as much personal attention as possible. After all, we spent enormous amounts of time nurturing them when they were infants. If we can make it happen, we want them receiving as much individual attention as possible in the preschool and primary years. Nativity offers advanced middle school math programs including Pre-Algebra, Algebra I, and Geometry using fully equipped classrooms with ActiBoards, Visual Presenters and Computers the smaller classroom sizes in middle school enable teachers to work with each student individually; they are challenged enough to stay interested but not so much that it takes over their lives. My 6th grader s teacher has been wonderful, the principal responds to email questions very quickly and thoroughly, and the teachers have all come across quite reasonable when we've interacted. The proof for us is that our child is happy on her way to school and when she arrives home.
I love Nativity Catholic School. I am so happy with the teachers and staff here. Each one is so welcoming and affectionate. My child is excited about going to school everyday. I feel so blessed.
Unfortunately I have to agree with the previous, concerning reviews. There is no teacher accountability. Teachers do not respond to emails from parents.Homework is not posted. The in-house Moodle system is ineffective. It is not used or current. Any suggestion that homework is posted is false and deceptive. Homework is supposed to be written down each day by teachers on a homework board, but this task is delegated to students who may or may not write everything down. Teachers make sometimes sarcastic and cruel comments including, "You are not smart enough for this .", "This is the work of a kindergartener", Though some families like K-4th, from 5th grade on, there are serious problems. There is no effective discipline. Friday detentions are a badge of honor for poorly behaved, but "cool" students. There is no in-house or out of school suspension.There are dwindling numbers from 5th grade on. Eight students in 8th grade. It is not the economy. This is an utter fallacy given our small school & our overcrowded & affluent parish. WE are in desperate need of professional intervention. Cardiac care is needed because the school is unresponsive and bleeding profusely.
I unfortunately need to agree with the 2-star review of August 2013. This school is in a state of decline and teacher quality is uneven at best. Academically, it is not a very challenging school, with many teachers striving only to teach everyone at the level of the slowest students. A few teachers actually are outstanding, but with single-class grades, it is just the luck-of-the draw for students. Sadly, a few teachers seem to actually dislike their students (!), particularly the boys (evidenced by the rapidly dwindling numbers in the upper grades). I do not believe that all teachers are truly state certified, but all at least have VCEA certification, which is a joint diocese, not state, initiative. Agree that some would benefit greatly from a better grasp of teaching theories, along with student teaching experience (required for actual state certification). Great observation on the lack of a dress code for teachers. Some (not all) of them dress like they just do not care. We find this rather surprising for a Catholic school that rigidly enforces its student uniform rules. I wish Nativity luck in getting back to its old standards, but this will likely be our last year there.
This is an excellent small school. Ms. Kelly, the principal, is wonderful and extremely involved with the students and parents. The classroom teachers all have a bachelors degree, most have their masters, and all are state certified. The children are wonderful and the parents are very involved. Our sons truly enjoy going to school together here. Cursive writing is still taught at this school.
This school provides, for the most part, a caring environment for students. The principal wants to make it a great school, but the current teaching staff (with some notable exceptions) is not up to the task. The dramatic drop in enrollment in the upper grades (very few boys remaining) might raise red flags for some parents and students. Though the school claims 100% "certification" of its teachers, parents might research the standards for "VCEA Certification," which are rather sparse and vastly different from those required in VA public schools (note: a few Nativity teachers do, I believe, hold state certification). While certification alone does not guarantee quality teaching, it does ensure that teachers have some background in childhood development, teaching theories, etc. We have found both excellent and very poor teachers at the school - truly the entire spectrum of teaching abilities and personalities. However, the frequent lack of professionalism (evidenced in small part by no teacher dress code) and discipline (a few teachers act VERY immature, with no repercussions) made us finally give up. We are searching for a new school. Nativity could be great but, sadly, is not.
The administration at Nativity is unavailable regarding parent concerns and uneven in decision-making when they finally do get involved. Huge disappointment. The middle school enrollment is shrinking drastically, with far less than 10 students entering 8th grade. Not a good environment for every child.
I am a parent of a Nativity alumni. My son graduated a couple of years ago from this wonderful school. I happened to come across this website while surfing the net and was shocked to read the post below. I really feel sorry for this parent's negative experience. We had quite the opposite experience. My son who was a below average student in the public schools flourished immensely at Nativity. From a C grade student, he graduated as an A grade student. He graduated from High School with an above 4.0 GPA. He took many AP courses and Earned 4s and 5s in final exams that earned him about 20 college credits. We are so thankful to Nativity teachers and administration for believing in him and molding him into an excellent student and wonderful human being. We always felt welcomed in the school and the administration was always available to meet with us and discuss our concerns.
Nativity Catholic School provides children with safe and secure place to learn, explore, and discover with the emphasis on living the gospel. The curriculum at Nativity is Gifted and Talented. All children are encouraged to stretch their minds as they reach for the stars. Nativity has a small-town feel and often people who visit will comment on how much it feels like home. Parents at Nativity are invested in their children's education which is witnessed by the numerous social and academic events throughout the year. Nativity students participate in their own annual Thanksgiving feast, Christmas Pageant, and a Seder meal. I encourage you to visit the school ( schedule an appointment) and see what makes this little school shine.
Very organized school. Quick process getting enrolled and established. Excellent orientation day (sneak-a-peek). Organized volunteer program. Love the website. Staff and families very friendly, community oriented and embracing. Some of the typical 'politics' and the normal mix of regular volunteers that become the 'in' crowd but they were very REAL people and not some of the more clique-type gossip hounds. Very impressed with their SCIENCE program! And Band! Wonderful mix of extra classes....LOVE THIS. The only down side for me - mass only ONCE per month! I am a believer in Catholic Mass creating our routine opportunity to build our community with the gospel - praying together and worshiping together. Educating the children on becoming ministers - teaching the we as laypersons create the Mass that it is not just about an altar and a priest. This is NOT to imply the religious education is substandard in ANY way. October was appropriately focused on the rosary - how to pray it, how to use it. This is wonderful community and the teacher's are phenomenal.
Clearly, the parent who wrote on 2/27/12 has some ax to grind. I have a few counter points to this parent's post. The middle school is an exceptional program taught by licensed, certified, talented teachers. Parents sometimes decide after 6th gr. to move their kids to public school for middle school to better transition for high school. The teacher/student ratio at the middle school grades is fantastic; students reap benefits small class sizes offer. The idea girls are preferred to boys is untrue; my sons' experience have been nothing but positive and inclusive. It is unfortunate the parents who posted on 2/27/12 feel differently regarding their own son's experience, but to take 8-12 years to decide a school is not suited to your child is poor judgment by those parents. Religion is taught as a core subject daily in all grades, according to Diocesan curriculum. No teachers have "fled" to St. Bernadette's. Two teachers accepted the same administrative position there (a few years apart, of course), to move from teaching to administration upon completing their masters' degrees for that area of expertise. By the way, our music teacher is also the music teacher at St. Bernadette's. ;)
I would like to address the negative comment the parent who posted on February 27, 2012 wrote about Nativity's talented and exceptional art teacher, Mrs. O'Donnell. This parent must have a personal issue with both her and Ms. Doyle (the music teacher) to write something so pointedly unkind. I would like to say that Mrs. O'Donnell is not only a wonderful art teacher, she is a wonderful person. She provides enriching and varied art skill instruction in all grades, K-8, and often collaborates with classroom teachers to plan cross-curriculum lessons for additional instructional benefit. The artwork she hangs all over our school demonstrates her dedication to her students and working with them at their individual age and grade levels. In addition, she goes above and beyond her position as the art teacher to teach an art elective class weekly to the middle school grades, as well as an after school art club for students interested in this extra-curricular opportunity. The extra time and work she offers to help our school celebrate special religious occasions, such as Christmas, Lent and Easter speaks to her commitment to help make our Catholic school the best that it can be.
In response to the February 27, 2012 parent review. I have one question to ask you. If you disliked Nativity so much, feel the teachers are not qualified, are not teaching religion, art, or music to your satisfaction; why are all three of your children Nativity graduates? There is a reason for Nativity Catholic School being a Blue Ribbon School of Excellence and it is due to the virtuous, excellent teachings of the faculty and staff. However, I do question some of Nativity's parents.
I just thought I'd shake things up a bit and comment from a student's perspective. I attended Nativity for the full 9 years and it was the best foundation I could have ever asked for. I'm currently a senior at my university through which I am enrolled in one of the top nursing programs in the region. I have a job at school and hold 2 active positions in my greek organization, and I do all of this while maintaining a 3.2 cumulative GPA. Now how am I able to do all of this with a smile on my face? It's from the strong foundation I already had from my family coming into Nativity as well as the structure I received through out my years there. This structure led to my motivation, determination, academic excellence as well as my strong work ethic. Keep in mind its not ONLY what the students learn at Nativity, its also the home environment in which learning is supposed to continue, not be criticized. Lets not be so narrow-minded, parents. You have a job to do too. K-8th grade are vital to a child's cognitive development and Nativity teachers do MORE than enough to let their minds flourish that but they can't go home with them. Nativity is an amazing school, everyone can't be so lucky.
We have spent twelve years at Nativity School and greatly regret it--especially once the kids became of junior high age. There is good reason people flee this school beginning in sixth grade, and its not all just because they plan to attend public school. There are 14 kids in the 8th grade class. We have found an utter lack of consistency in applying discipline, uniform standards, and even grading. My children,who previously enjoyed music and art, all grew to hate it. Unless your boy is more like a girl, he WILL be discriminated against. Worst of all is if you take your religion seriously, this is NOT the place to have it fostered. No substance. My kids all attend Catholic high school now, and the difference between what they knew about their religion coming in and what other kids knew, was vast. Academically, it is very hit or miss. Without our constant involvement, it would have been a lot more "miss". We definitely do not feel we got our money worth. Recommend you try St. Bernadette's in Springfield--where some of our (best) teachers and students fled.
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