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Nativity Catholic School3
Posted May 07, 2014
- a parent
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.
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.
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