I feel that children should have time after school for extracurricular activities, family time, community involvement and playtime. While I understand the need for homework, I feel strongly that overall homework should be kept to a minimum to allow those activities.
The teachers and administration have far exceeded my (high) expectations during the past three years that my child has attended K thru 2nd there. Each year I am amazed with the creativity and passion of the teacher and each year I worry that the upcoming year could never be as wonderful. AND each year we are again met with a heartfelt teacher and a challenging but exciting and engaging curriculum. It is difficult to send your child away for 7+ hours each day and trust that they will be taught, guided and loved the same as if they were in your own care. Here at Holy Cross, it is not difficult to drop my child off there every morning. The teachers, faculty, and school community provide an environment that lives their faith, supports and encourages one another, and where my child is met with both academic challenges and success.
My son just completed Kindergarten. He was very happy and loved going to school. He loved his teachers and they loved the kids as well. I used to teach Kindergarten myself. He sang songs, played, made things. I went in once a month as a helper and saw what it was like. It was a very loving environment. I did not give 5 stars because I feel that there is always room to grow I never give 5 star to anything.
I strongly encourage parents to spend time at this school in their children's classrooms, particularly kindergarten. I have my masters degree in Early Childhood Education. I taught 1st grade for 6 years. My son attended kindergarten here for 5 months until my husband and I pulled him out. He was miserable. He cried every day before school and at night before bed. He told me horrible stories of kindergarten. I heard about a child having her paper thrown in the trash because her writing wasn't neat enough. I heard about how he never used the bathroom in the room because his teacher made them leave the door wide open while they went to the bathroom! On top of this, the school's teaching methods are extremely dated. Kindergarten consists of completing workbook page after workbook page. No manipulatives are EVER used. There are no learning centers for free exploration and hands on learning. There is absolutely no movement. They sit at their tables most of the day. Books are not read to the students by the teacher, instead they are played on the active board along with movie after uneducational movie. His teacher did not like noise. Her room of kindergarteners is often silent, not what kindergarten should be! There is no music, no fun educational songs to teach the days of the week etc. it is a very very sad place for these little ones and sadly they don't know what they're missing:(
My husband and I wrote 2 letters to the principal, about our concerns. When we didn't notice any changes, we then met with her and her assistant principal to discuss our growing concerns. Despite us sharing that we would rather not confront Our son's teacher directly with our concerns due to it having a possible negative effect on how our son was treated in class, the only solution that was offered was that we discuss our concerns directly with His teacher. So after several more weeks of no change and a child who cried every morning because he didn't want to go to Kindergarten, we made the very difficult decision to pull him out of Holy Cross Academy and put him in public school. He loved his new school. We saw an immediate change in him and he actually said he loved going to school now! Please take my advice and spend time in your child's classroom during everyday instruction. This was our experience with Kindergarten and the leadership at Holy Cross.
These teachers care about their students, not their union. This caring makes them more effective, and the openness of contact with parents makes the school and home work together in a way that is much more effective for the growth of the student.
One example: a young student who cheated on a math quiz provided an example of the fact that humans fail morally sometimes. While she got a zero on the quiz, she reminded the other students that they are only cheating themselves when they cheat at school. Good, empathetic teachers reinforced this lesson without lambasting the young offender any more than was necessary and an important lesson about honesty and fairness was introduced.
This is far and away the best K-8 school in the Fredericksburg area (and the preschool is pretty fabulous too). Academically, the advanced students are given challenges commensurate with their abilities while those who need some extra help receive devoted attention to catching up. This happens in the same classroom under the guidance of the spectacular faculty. The Salesian philosophy of learning, which makes compassion a major part of intellectual achievement, ensures that the children are grounded in a moral center that emphasizes kindness, courtesy and understanding. A can-do work ethic is also emphasized, which is a life-long attribute hard to come by in schools these days. Another rarity: actual diversity, with a student body whose parents hail from every populated continent and whose backgrounds include most major religions, philosophies and political views, all interacting respectfully under the watch of the Sisters who make the school run so well. I'd give them six stars if they'd open up a high school, and seven (seventeen?) if they'd move the school downtown. Still, well worth the trip.
God has entrusted six beautiful children to us and we are doing our best to insure that they are raised in the manner that will allow them to grow with His teachings. God has and continues to bless us so that we can send our children to Holy Cross Academy. People often ask why we have invested so much into Catholic education when they can attend school for free. I can tell you that listening to your youngest child (since kindergarten) sing to “God” every night, enjoying going to school, then advancing classes in high school because of the curriculum, makes it worth every penny. Four of our children have graduated HCA and high school but I remember them often coming home and saying that they “missed HCA; praying and talking about “God” in school; but missing all their teachers”. They mentioned that they were ahead of their peers because of HCA’s curriculum, which is geared toward “college” readiness. The middle school teachers are always available for all students needing extra help. I have asked some of the middle school teachers to wait for my last child to go through their class because I know them and appreciate their hard work. As with any school “public or private” there are instances that I don’t agree, however, we find a way to make it work. Our family has been there since the school commenced and it is our hope that the grandchildren can attend as well on day.
I attended Holy Cross MANY years ago, and my 4 year old daughter has now attended their preschool for two consecutive years. The staff is superb! The teachers foster a relationship with the parents and students that supports and encourages each child to be the best that they possibility can achieve. I have no hesitation in sending my now-2-year-old there next year and cannot wait for my eldest to start at HCA in their kindergarten class next fall.